Everyone loves to go shopping, but that often leads to horrific disasters like the one a few months ago in a Bangladesh garment factory. When we want the cheapest clothes possible, our buying decisions have a negative effect on those people manufacturing those products for us. On the flip side, sometimes even the most expensive clothes are not produced in factories with conditions any better. It can be hard to know what to buy and from whom, but lucky for us there are some companies making it easier by doing a lot of social good with the money you pay for their products.
Both TOMS shoes and Warby Parker are but just two of those companies, but I wanted to focus on them for a singular reason: they both donate an item for each item you buy from them. Let’s take a look.
Everyone needs shoes, right? Well, the next time you are in the market for some comfortable, casual shoes (these are perfect for summer, by the way), you should check out TOMS Shoes. With offerings made with sustainable and vegan materials such as hemp and organic cotton, and average prices of between $50 and $100, TOMS shoes are comparable to most any other shoe you may buy, with one difference: paying for a pair of these shoes does a lot of social good.
During his worldly travels, in 2006 TOMS’ founder Blake Mycoskie found himself in Argentina and noticed that none of the children had their own pair of shoes. Shortly after his return, he started TOMS with the idea in mind to give a new pair of shoes to a child in need for each pair a paying customer bought. The company’s One for One program has now given away over two million pairs of shoes in 50 countries through partnerships with 75 different Shoe Giving Partners. These partners also help those in need with medical checkups and vaccines, microfinancing, and school support programs.
In recent years, TOMS has added eyewear to their cause and the company is now helping to restore sight in 13 countries around the world. One can hope this trend continues and the company finds even more ways to help those in need.
Along with that new pair of shoes, you may need some new sunglasses or even eyeglasses to make sure you can see your way to the beach. If that sounds like you, take a look at Warby Parker. Warby Parker runs a program similar to TOMS in that for each pair of glasses that are purchased, a pair gets donated to someone who needs it. With nearly 1 billion people without access to eyeglasses, this is a much needed commodity.
While the company has given away over 250,000 pairs of glasses, they also take it one step further: they train low-income entrepreneurs to sell inexpensive glasses to others, helping them start their own businesses. I bought a pair of eyeglasses from WP and couldn’t be happier with my purchase, especially at the price I paid. The same glasses would have cost me a small fortune down at the local eyeglasses shop. It’s nice to know I was supporting a company that not only is doing so much good in the world, but that is also a certified B Corporation and one of the only carbon-neutral fashion brands in the world.
Both of these companies use our consumer behaviors and habits to do good around the globe for those in need. You would be hard-pressed to do that kind of good by purchasing products from other brands you may prefer, right? Sometimes the easiest way to help those in need is by harnessing the power of (comparably) well-off consumers to make a difference, and TOMS and Warby Parker are doing just that. Check them out.