1. They are very clear that they are a business. TOMS does not pretend to be an NGO or a community development agency. I appreciate this, because I know so many people who are working on the ground for the holistic empowerment of people in developing countries, and pretending to do what they do would be cheap. It works in their favor to stick with being a company with a conscience, especially when they are faithful to their one-for-one promise. I like that they know who they are and who they are not.
2. Eyewear. TOMS does glasses now, and they are super stylish. When you buy a pair, they support the sight of one person through either medical treatment, prescription glasses or surgery. How? Their site says, “We deliver that care through partnerships with expert eye care organizations on the ground, which makes sense since we wouldn’t dare to pass ourselves off as eye care professionals.” Yay! (See point #1.)
3. Wedges. The flats often hurt my feet, especially if I try to wear them all day. But I bought a pair of the wedges about a month ago and they are really comfy. They’re also much cuter than the flats. (Before you cry out in outrage, consider: I have size 10 feet. The flats loot like skis on me. They just do.)
4. Style Your Sole Events. The premise is easy: you buy a pair of white TOMS and because they are canvas, you can decorate them to your heart’s content. My church is doing our second Style Your Sole event at the end of August, which I am very excited about.
Aside from the fun of shoe decorating, what I really love about the event is the teachable moment for parents. This is a chance to share about purchasing power with your kids. You can talk with them about the choices they can make with the money they have, and how, in addition to giving, they can use it for good by buying better products.
It is becoming easier all the time for regular people to make better purchases for the sake of the workers who make those product, or the planet that supports the resources for those products. Depending on the age of your kids, you can start with TOMS and then segway into fair trade chocolate, bamboo or organic clothing, or perhaps even sweatshops.
We can make choices for social justice all the time in our regular lives. What could be better for kids to learn early?
What kinds of everyday choices do you make to support social justice? It is your coffee beans or chocolate? Your reusable mug or grocery bags? The stores you frequent? I’d love your tips!