There were a few reasons I threw away my TOMS. I had a pair of Botas for about two years now and they were warm, comfy shoes, but not very well made. At first the humanitarian I’m buying a shoe thing made sense, but over the last two years I realized that I’ve been lying to myself. Full disclosure: I liked my TOMS, and I wore them a lot in two years.
The first reason I threw them out was that they had holes in the heels. The second was that the toes were falling apart.
The third reason was that they were wearing on my conscience. I realized that I was just solving some kids’ shoelessness by buying TOMS. TOMS may have great intentions, but they don’t solve poverty. That kid who got the equivalent pair of shoes to the ones you just bought is still poor. I just felt bad knowing that I had done nothing to solve the real issue behind why the kids did not have shoes. It was a misguided thing to think that I was really helping someone in a great way by buying TOMS instead of any other brand.
Now I’m not saying that you shouldn’t buy TOMS. You are giving someone a pair of shoes when you do buy TOMS. You are not giving them a way out of the cycle of poverty, and you are subscribing to our Western consumer culture in a way that also forwards your humanitarian intentions, and strokes your ego.
If you have genuinely good intentions to help someone by buying TOMS, consider that you’re really just helping solve shoelessness, not poverty. I learned that, and I feel like shit about it, but it was a lesson worth learning.