An Open Letter to TOMS and BOBS Shoes (by Tammy Fuller)
TOMS and BOBS: I wish to serve notice. I find your practices unethical… no, not the fact that you give a pair of shoes away to children in need, but the fact that you boast that it’s an act of generosity.
You, in fact, assemble your shoes (which are no modern marvels of lasting quality or art) in nations which employ unfair labor practices and often child labor. Then, you charge exorbitant amounts for said shoes, which the materials and assembly are below par. Your profit margin skyrockets with your laughably lining your pockets at a criminal level. To top it all off, you “generously” and “charitably” “give” a pair of shoes to a child in need. What about those who you unfairly employ? Your greed only gets you so far with the public who no longer brainlessly buys into your charade of charitability. Your marketing campaign is no longer acceptable.
As to me? You may say I am just a hypocritical part of the problem. I would have to agree that most products are made in foreign nations, commissioned by greedy, corporate capitalists. However, my television maker doesn’t masquerade as a generous company, hooking third world nations up with technology or education for the children. Add to that the fact that I am 98% second-hand and consignment for the clothes on my back and the shoes on my feet. I can sleep at night knowing I am doing the best I can with the shoes on my feet to no longer perpetuate the problem of child slavery and unfair labor practices.
My conclusion, TOMS and BOBS… stop the charades. We, the public, are no longer “buying” your hypocrisy. You need to begin, right now, employing fair labor practices and giving shoes away because it’s right, not as part of an advertising campaign to make you richer!
Now, if you’ve read this, and you are upset because you buy and wear these, I ask you to look inside your shoes… look at where they’re made… look at the labor practices of those nations. Ask yourself, “What does it COST to make these shoes? Just one pair? What did the company pay the worker for assembling this one pair of shoes?” Then, ask yourself, “What did I pay for these?” What you will undoubtedly conclude is this: “Wow! I could’ve bought a pair of shoes at the Goodwill, and donated about $45 to any local charity to put food a child’s plate or bought water for Somalia.” Do NOT take my word for it. You can contact the company and they will give you an excuse about how their factories are “up-to-standard” for world regulations.
If you’re mad and you stopped reading a long time ago, dismissing me as a liberal quack, all it takes is investigation, and you will see what I’ve set forth is true. Moreover, it’s true of all new clothes not made in the US. The problem is bigger than we can see, which is why I try to buy everything in secondhand and consignment shops. Trust me, I think TOMS and BOBS are just as cute as the next girl, but my conscience moves me to stop the madness where God reveals it. Join me in doing the same. Not only do we reduce, reuse and recycle, but we can all help end unfair labor practices globally.
TOMS and BOBS are not the actual problem… they were the hook to get you to read. The problem is “we”.
Tammy Fuller is a youth leader in church and community. Inspired by the radical likes of Claiborne and Campolo, she is an advocate for peace, fair labor practices, and looking for ways to reach the marginalized in the marketplace of daily life. A wife and a mother, Tammy’s first loyalty is there. Find her on Facebook.