Panga Sandal by GreenSoul Shoes photo by Alistair Ong
Although I have been watching TED videos for years, I only attended my first TEDx event today. GreenSoul Shoes founder, Alastair Ong, was one of the speakers. I had never heard before of GreenSoul shoes and I was impressed by Ong's story. Green Shoes business model is similar to that of Tom's shoes, in that for every pair of shoes purchased, Greensoul shoes gives a pair to a child in need. But Green Soul Shoes model differs from Tom's in that the formers focus is on empowering local artisans who make the shoes, and that the shoes are made entirely out of recycled, rubber tires and inner tubes found in garbage dumps. Shoeless Children
Green Soul Shoes was founded in 2008 after Alastair asked a friend to the take him somewhere other than fancy restaurants, and they ended up visiting the slums of Manila. The slums are near garbage dumps, and children rummage daily to gather whatever they can use or sell. The kids scavenge barefoot. Alastair's immediate impulse was to go out and buy shoes for these children, but he knew that would not be sustainable. Anyone who has traveled to impoverished areas and seen children walking around barefoot knows how heartbreaking such a sight is.
Greensoul Shoes and the Triple Bottom Line
A lightbulb went off in his Ong's brain. Ong believes in the triple bottom line. Green Soul Shoes (GSS) follows this principle by pulling tires out of landfills, helping shoeless children, and also helping employ artisans. GSS does all of this while maintaining a profit that allows them to continue their social and ecological mission. Instead of simply sending resources to these communities, GSS provides local employment opportunities and empowers the local people to lift themselves out of poverty.
Beyond doing good, GreenSoul Shoes also look good. You can order the shoes online by going to the GreenSoul Shoes website. In addition to sandals, they also make stylish bags and jewelry. All perfect for summer accessorizing!