We all need to consume, but can our consumer behaviour actually do more good in the world than just support the businesses that we choose to buy from? Well, enter TOMS, everyone needs shoes and many people need glasses, just purchasing these items from the socially-conscious business, we can be a part of huge social and environmental good.
What is TOMS?
TOMS is a for-profit business that aims to improve lives and promote conscious consumerism. TOMS (short for “Tomorrow’s Shoes”) sells a style of shoe which is inspired by the simple canvas slip-on shoes that are popular in Argentina. Blake Mycoskie, the founder of TOMS, was inspired to create his business after visiting Argentina in 2006 and witnessing the struggles that children face when they do not have access to proper footwear. Children without shoes are exposed to an increased risk of injury and health issues. Sharp objects, rocky terrains, infections, and parasites become large concerns when a child must go barefoot. These obstacles may even prevent children from attending school, if walking for transportation is not a viable option due to injury.
TOMS’ One for One business model provides a person in need with a new pair of shoes each time a pair of TOMS shoes is sold. This business model makes a significant difference in the lives of those in need because creating social change is ingrained within the company as its main objective. So, you get really cool and fashionable items while supporting others in need. It really is win-win!
Products and impacts
Since the launch of TOMS in 2011, nearly 100 million pairs of shoes have been given to those in need. The success of TOMS shoes has resulted in the launching of an eyewear line which continues the One to One model that is seen with TOMS shoes, a handbag collection that contributes to advancements in maternal health, and a coffee line which helps provide potable water to families in need that live in coffee-producing regions. While giving these forms of aid to people in need has had a significant impact, TOMS has decided to take their impact to the next level by giving donations as well as grants. TOMS has pledged to dedicate at least one third of their net annual profits to a giving fund that is managed by the TOMS Giving Team.
The Giving Team
The Giving Team at TOMS is made up of professionals that are involved with international development, health, and non-profit organizations. This team has developed relationships with over 200 non-governmental and humanitarian organizations in 80 countries around the world. These organizations, referred to as the Giving Partners, are essential in determining how TOMS donations and grants are best utilized by partners in the communities. The Giving Partners help to identify the needs of their communities and how TOMS can help meet these needs.
Along with their humanitarian efforts, TOMS operates in a way that is environmentally sustainable. TOMS carries a product line called “Earthwise” composed of products that are made with earth-friendly materials and made using earth-friendly processes. An Earthwise product must contain a certain percentage of earth-friendly materials in at least one of its main components. For example, an Earthwise shoe might be required to use 100% organic cotton or contain 26% recycled rubber in the soles. Other sustainability initiatives include partnering with organizations that have a high standard for environmental responsibility. Such organizations include Certified B Corporation, Leather Working Group, and Fair Labour Association.
Next time you find yourself in need of a pair of shoes, eyeglasses, or accessories, check out TOMS in order to make a purchase that not only benefits you, but someone in need!
Join my mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. Your information will not be shared.