A deal on TOMS has been kicking around Facebook for the past few days. I keep clicking on it, then talking myself out of it. I was this close. (Oh – picture me with my thumb and forefinger poised really close together.) I wanted them. I hear they’re really comfortable and it’s a big discount off their regular price. But I’m not gonna do it.
Here’s why: I don’t need new shoes.
Sure, I could use new shoes. The three pairs of casual, slip-on shoes that I currently have are at least two years old. One pair is destined for the trash bin any day now, leaving me with only two. Plus my flip-flops and leather sandals. Plus my five pairs of heels (four of them black). Plus my rain boots, my snow boots, and my ugly runners that I only wear when I’m mowing the lawn (maybe half a dozen times a year). Plus a pair of Teva sandals that are at least twelve years old and they haven’t fit right since my feet expanded with my first pregnancy. And I’ll begrudgingly admit that there’s a pair of Crocs somewhere in the basement that technically belong to me even though I got them as hand-me-downs and I have never worn them in public. Shoot, I’ve barely worn them to take the garbage bins out to the road.
Nevertheless, that’s fifteen pairs of shoes. For one person. I do not need another pair just because they’re on sale.
I am not writing to cast scorn and shame upon those of you who have taken advantage of this deal. If you love what TOMS stands for, and you actually need new shoes, and you have been saving and waiting for a sale that fits your budget, then YAY! If your logic is simply that you want them because other people have them and you simply can’t be happy unless you have what other people have, then enjoy your new shoes. I won’t hate you forever.
Allow me a moment to share some statistics and thoughts from Jen Hatmaker’s book “7”:
Annual US spending on cosmetics: $8 billion
Basic education for all global children: $6 billion
Annual US and European spending on perfume: $12 billion
Clean water for all global citizens: $9 billion
Annual US and European spending on pet food: $17 billion
Reproductive health for all women: $12 billion*
This is the simplest and the hardest. It takes true courage to rage against the machine. Could we be countercultural enough to say, “We’re not buying that. We don’t need that. We’ll make do with what we have. We’ll use the stuff we already own.” If this causes anxiety, I’m with you, trust me. Because who else does that? Who curbs their appetites anymore? Who uses old stuff when they could buy new stuff? Who sews patches on jeans or uses last year’s backpacks? Who says ‘no’ when they can afford to say ‘yes’?
So I’m not buying myself some TOMS. It is a very small thing, my abstaining from this one tiny purchase. But it is one vote against excess. Against mindless consumerism.
What difference does it make? Not much, in the grand scope of life. I’m not going to lose any sleep over my devastating lack of new TOMS (especially because they’re mind-blowingly trendy, and trendy things generally give me the heebie-jeebies). So I took it one step further (sorry about the shoe pun there). I used the money I would’ve spent on the shoes and instead helped fund a loan on kiva.org. No big loss to me, but now a lady in Ecuador can buy some sewing supplies.
*from “The State of Human Development,” United Nations Human Development Report 1998, chapter 1, 37.