Wednesday, August 8, 2012

TOMS, consumerism, and why we need to change the way we think and operate.

This is for a contest at so I know it is a break from my usual humorous posts, but I hope you enjoy it just the same:

 In America, consumerism is key. Buying new things makes us FEEL good. We get to show our new skirt/shoes/shirt/house to our friends and silently yell, “Look at me! Look how great I am doing even during this down economy that I can afford all of these THINGS!”

But somewhere along the way, we have forgotten about those who don’t have access to the same resources we do. We forget that while we are watering our lawns with perfectly sparkly H2O, some people don’t have access to clean drinking water. While we nibble at our lunches in the mall food courts – throwing away enough food for an additional meal when we are done, we forget that others haven’t had a full meal today. And while we show off our shiny new shoes, we don’t think about the countless children who walk to school barefoot on the other side of the world because their families simply can’t afford the luxury.

And yes, there are charities and nonprofits. And we feel great when we donate. We give our 75 cents at the checkout line and smile at the good we have done while we cart our hundreds of dollars in groceries to our SUVs. Every little bit adds up, but we aren’t exactly saving the world with our pennies and we aren’t stopping our lives to make a difference to society.

That’s where TOMS comes in. We could learn a lot from a business model like TOMS. While nonprofits are chasing every penny they can find, savoring their 501.c.3 status, and businesses are out looking for the bottom dollar so they can pay their CEOs hundreds of thousands of dollars, TOMS has found a for-profit business model that is changing lives and making the world a better place. Every time I think of TOMS, I get this huge grin on my face.

Buying TOMS means more than buying a great, quality pair of shoes. A pair of TOMS for me equals a pair of shoes to a child who didn’t have any. That good feeling we get from the 75 cents at the grocery store fades quickly, but every time we look down and we see our TOMS, we get that great feeling all over again. We get to look stylish, make a statement, and do good for others, all by supporting our need to buy material items.

And other businesses should get on board. If every time I bought a water filter, a family in a developing country received one too, I would be filtering my water daily. If every time I bought a book, a child in need received a copy of the same one, I would buy more books. If every shirt, dress, or pair of skinny jeans I purchased made life better for others, my wardrobe would be huge. But forget about me for a minute. Children across the globe would have clean water, access to books, and clothing. The world would be a better place. We as a nation would feel better about our consumerism, and we would all say “Thank goodness TOMS thought of it first, because this is the direction we all want to be heading.”