In an economy once focused solely on turning a profit, more and more companies are looking for ways to improve the quality of life for others. These forward-thinking companies have adopted a system known as “one for one,” in which, for every unit of a product sold, the company donates one similar or related item to people in need. Already, the one-for-one strategy has enabled companies to provide aid around the world. And the companies funding these humanitarian and environmental efforts are also selling eco-friendly products.

Freewaters makes flip-flops from recycled and PVC-free rubber, as well as a new line of comfy-for-winter house shoes. With each purchase the company provides clean drinking water for one person in Kenya for a year. To support the effort, they launched a nonprofit—projectfreewaters.org—where people can follow the organization’s well-digging efforts and see the good their purchases have brought.

The Toms’ Way

The founders of Freewaters, which began retailing in spring 2011, were inspired by shoe company TOMS, widely considered the pioneer of “one for one.” During his travels to South America, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie discovered that children too poor to afford shoes face a constant risk of injury, infection and transmission of soil- and water-borne diseases and parasites. And children who cannot afford shoes are often turned away from schools where shoes are a dress code requirement. So Mycoskie founded TOMS in 2006 with a mission to make attractive, responsibly constructed shoes for customers and, for every pair sold, provide a pair of shoes to an impoverished child. This would help reduce the health risks and educational limitations faced by so many children worldwide. The idea was simple and surprisingly effective. And TOMS uses canvas made from a blend of organic canvas and post-consumer recycled plastics. “It makes for a really strong canvas, which is great because it lasts long, and it’s also much more environmentally friendly,” Mycoskie told TreeHugger Radio. TOMS also offers a line of vegan shoes made without leather or other animal-based materials. As evidenced by the enormous popularity of the casual, comfortable shoes, both the message and the look have really resonated.

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Tags: business, charity, corporations, ethics

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