I have never been a ‘shoe fashionista’. My shoe selection is simple. No matter the season, I can always rely on my TOMS. I discovered TOMS through my brother who had gone on a surf trip to California two years ago and brought me back a pair of these shoes. The premise behind the company is simple: you buy, they give. TOMS shoes were founded in 2006 by Blake Mycoskie who was traveling through Argentina and saw how many children did not have access to shoes. Mycoskie decided that he would start a shoe company that would give a pair of shoes to a child without shoes for every pair purchased. Later that same year, Mycoskie returned to Argentina with a group of family and friends to donate over 10,000 pairs of shoes.
In developing countries, individuals can walk miles for food, water or medical services. Without shoes, individuals are prone to cuts and sores on their feet that become infected by parasites that live in the soil. Shoes are also a requirement for school uniforms. If a child has no shoes, they have no education and therefore they will never reach their full potential. TOMS also donates shoes in Ethiopia, a country where podoconiosis, a preventable foot disease, is rampant. Podoconiosis is a debilitating disease that causes ulcers and swelling in the feet and legs. The disease is caused by walking on silica-rich soil, ancient volcanic material that enters through cuts and sores in the lower extremities. Currently, TOMS is working on a new shoe design for people in the area to further protect their feet. Aside from Argentina and Haiti, Mycoskie and company have donated shoes to people in New Orleans, Kentucky, Haiti and South Africa.
TOMS shoes are based on the Argentinean shoe design called Alpargata or Espadrilles. There are shoe styles for men, women, children and babies. The shoes come in a variety of materials such as canvas, burlap, hemp, suede and denim. For women there are canvas warp boots and glitter shoes. The insole of the shoe is made of soft leather, offering arch and heel support. The sole of the shoe is made of rubber or rope. TOMS also offers ‘vegan-friendly’ shoes. The upper material of the shoe is 35% hemp and 65% post-consumer plastic bottles and the sole is recycled rubber and there is a faux-suede insole. The designs of the shoes range from plain, one colored shoes to wild, bright designs. I personally have four pairs: black, red, navy blue with the Gandhi quote “be the change you wish to see in the world” and a cream and moss green flower pattern. These shoes are perfect for everything occasion!
As of 2009, over 150,000 pairs of shoes have been given away to children who need shoes; however, Mycoskie has only just begun. Mycoskie’s goal for his company is to give away 300,000 pairs of shoes by the end of this year and 1 million shoes by 2012. Mycoskie continues to promote his business at college lectures and at political conferences such as the Clinton Global Initiative.
Posted by: Lauren DiStefano (intern)
Filed under: Good for the Planet, Green, Green Products, Recycling | Tagged: Blake Mycoskie, Blake Mycoskie's Blog, eco-friendly shoes, Espadrilles, One for One, Podoconiosis, shoes, TOMS shoes, TOMS Shoes Blog |