Socially conscious shoes
Posted on April 10, 2011 at 12:33 pm
My counter-campaign has put me at the center of many conversations about shoes. It seems that TOMS has been very successful at connecting the purchase of shoes with social causes. Several people have written to either ask what shoes they should buy or to tell me about other shoes companies that are socially conscious.
Since this topic keeps coming up, I thought I’d create a page to collect all suggestions sent my direction. I do not have any personal knowledge of how these companies operate, I’m simply compiling suggestions given to me by others. Your suggestions or critiques are welcomed.
“Having grown up watching our family and neighbors struggling, we decided to create the “better life” we were all waiting for by harnessing our community’s incredible artisan skills and channeling them into a sustainable, global, fair trade footwear business. We have done that and more and we are proud to say that the soleRebels brand is being enjoyed by people in over 30 countries around the world.
We selected shoes because we saw that footwear was an excellent platform to begin to share many of the indigenous eco-sensible craft heritages and artisan talents that we have here in Ethiopia with the world! It also meant that based on the approach we were taking to footwear creation – that being hand crafted and eco-sensible – that we could source and make almost ALL our materials locally, thereby creating an export product from 100% local inputs.”
“Through the purchase of our products, consumers support job creation as we contract impoverished producers who, through their work, empower themselves to shape their own future. Understanding the important role that education plays in growth, we have also pledged to donate 10% of our profits to education programs in the neighborhoods where our products are made. That way, not only is empowerment offered through stable jobs, but opportunity is shaped into reality for the thousands of bright young minds willing to make lasting change in their communities.”
“When we first shared the idea of manufacturing our footwear in Africa, many thought why? Why or how could anyone want to make shoes in a place full of so much poverty and corruption?
The answer was simple – we never have and still don’t see an Africa that’s categorised by negative generalizations. Oliberté believes that with the right partners, each country within Africa has the means to grow and support its people. So that’s what we do – Oliberté partners with factories, suppliers, farmers and workers to produce premium footwear in Africa, but we do more than that. We work create fair jobs, with the goal of contributing to the development of a thriving middle class.”
“Sseko Designs hires recent secondary school graduates for this nine month period to live and work together, while earning money that will go directly towards their university education. These women will not makesandals forever. They will go on to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, writers and teachers that will bring change and unification to a country divided and ravished by a 22 year-long war.
Sseko Designs is a not-just-for-profit enterprise that recognizes the power of business and responsible consumerism to support sustainable economic development, which in turn affects a country’s educational, justice, and health care systems. The goal of Sseko Designs is two-fold: provide university tuition for these promising young women through a sustainable monthly income, while also contributing to the overall economic development of Uganda.”
Here’s a blog post from One Mango about these shoes.
“In one of the poorest neighborhoods in the impoverished sprawl around Buenos Aires, something strange is growing: hope. Several years ago, six men and women started a cooperative business called Desde el Pie, or From the Foot. From these humble beginnings have sprung a source of work for some thirty people, mostly immigrants, and a second cooperative called Puporé. These businesses make shoes, and in the process, they’ve turned the international sweatshop model on its head….
…At both Puporé and Desde el Pie, workers have jumped a few rungs. They hold assemblies every week to decide among themselves how to work, and they divide the fruits of their labor equitably. Their factories are full of freedom, laughter, and the feeling of family. With a sense of power in their working lives, their spirits are nurtured instead of crushed: this only increases their productivity.”
“Ethical living invites us to look behind the tall, wide curtain of consumer culture to clearly view the factory floors, forests, farm fields and people that lie on the other side. It is conscious, informed, open-eyed living that takes into account the impact of our choices on the environment and human rights; a continuing call to action that demands we acknowledge our connection to nature and participate in the movement for social change.
More than a fleeting trend, it is an accessible way of living that recognizes the urgency of global environmental and social problems and supports real, sustainable alternatives. Ethical living allows us to break out of our role as passive consumers, and harness the tremendous power that our choices, purchases and daily habits wield us. We can accomplish this by consuming consciously and by choosing Fair Trade, organic and green options wherever possible.”