By Chris Dato • October 15, 2014
As consumers, we are more informed than we have ever been. With this newfound knowledge, we have become more aware of both the impact we have on the planet, as well as the business practices of companies we patronize. (Patronize as in support financially, although both definitions are applicable) For this reason, the “one-for-one” business model has become increasingly popular in the past few years. This sustainable and humanitarian trend is worth your attention, and I wanted to highlight some companies that are truly changing the way charity is done.
Indosole call themselves “Soles with Soul,” and for good reason. Due to the excessive number of used motorcycle tires, landfills in Indonesia began to spontaneously catch fire. This inspired Kyle Parsons to seek a solution, and his answer was Indosole. By using the worn tire treads to make the souls of the footwear, Indosole can make 2 pairs of shoes from a single tire. Not only is that tire no longer laying in a landfill waiting to combust, but it is serving a useful purpose. The company also produces all of their shoes in Indonesia, which provides the people with sustainable employment in a clean work environment for fair pay.
You can’t bring up “one-for-one” businesses without mentioning TOMS Shoes. TOMS is the company that most people associate with this business model, and it is no wonder why: to date, TOMS has given away more than 35 million pairs of new shoes to people in need. The company does a great job of staying at the forefront of socially responsible brands, expanding their line of “one-for-one” products to other survival essentials. Just this year, TOMS Roasting Co. was launched with the mission of providing a week’s supply of clean drinking water for each bag of coffee sold.
Another fundamental need that TOMS has set its sights on is eyeglasses. Since coming out with TOMS Eyewear, the company has helped restore sight to over 250,000 people through treatments, eyeglasses, and corrective surgery. However, they are not alone in this mission.
A gift we often take for granted is the ability to see. Even after using glasses for a decade, I am still amazed by the instant quality of life improvement they provide every time I put them on my face. Warby Parker wants to make sure that this basic human need is available to everyone, and they just hit a major milestone on that mission by donating their millionth pair of glasses! By partnering with groups like RestoringVision.org, Warby Parker Uses trained professionals to administer and distribute a pair of glasses to a needy person in New Dehli, India, for every pair sold.
Similarly, Ben Midanek was moved to take action after witnessing this issue first hand while traveling. He started 4sight Sunglasses in hopes of helping the 1.3 billion people who cannot get the corrective glasses they need, one pair at a time. For each pair of 4sight Sunglasses sold, a pair is given to local eye doctors and clinic staff for distribution to people in need.
Recent headlines have brought the worldwide problem of disease to the forefront here at home. You might be shocked to find, however, just how many of these diseases could be cured or avoided with the use of basic hygiene products, such as soap. According to UNICEF, preventable diseases like these claimed the lives of more than 5000 children. Bridget Hilton started Jack’s Soap in order to put a stop to this problem, by providing a bar of soap to a child in need for every one sold. The soaps are produced using only high quality organic ingredients and recycled materials. The bars are also vegan and cruelty free, which is why they are supported by both PETA and the USDA. Jack’s Soap takes their mission one step further by funding programs to educate recipients about the importance of good hygiene.
Some companies have taken the “one-for-one” concept even further. Vitamma, through their partnership with non-profit Vitamin Angels, aims to help undernourished children by distributing vitamin A supplements. By buying a multivitamin pack from the company, you will help provide 3 children with 2 year-supplies of vitamin A. They have given this system the moniker “3TO1.” Vitamin A is essential for maintaining good vision and a healthy immune system.
While most of the companies we have talked about so far are focused to fixing the problems globally, others have decided to start with issues here at home. Blanket America provides a well manufactured, durable fleece blanket to charity for every one sold. In addition to the physical warmth, these comfortable blankets provide a sense of comfort and home to those who desperately need it. In the wake of the disaster, Blanket America has begun providing free blankets to displaced Haitians.
The last socially responsible company I want to mention is the BoGo Light program. This “one-for-one” program, started by American Light Works, seeks to provide to those in need something essential: portable light. When you buy a BoGo Light, American Light Works will donate one to someone who needs it. The flashlights are powerful and durable, and best of all solar powered.
We do ourselves to providing you with the best tips on how to save money. While sometimes that means finding ways to avoid spending, the majority of the time it means getting the most out of your money. It is hard to think of a better way to do that than supporting socially responsible companies. Brands that have a humanitarian purpose, especially those that allow you to see how your purchase will directly benefit someone, provide customers with a true sense that they are making a difference in the world. And you can’t put a price on that.
Chris Dato A Southern California kid born and raised, Chris is happiest with sunglasses on his face and sand under his back. Although a self-proclaimed master money saver, he prefers the term 'responsibly frugal' to 'cheap.'