We received another healthy amount of submissions this month for the Junkie awards and it is amazing to us just how much good work is being done out there across the e-commerce industry. While we always try to make the monthly recognition timely, sometimes that’s just not possible and we have to reward acompany for their overall body of work as opposed to something they did in a given month.
Such is the case with the October Junkie Award winner, GreenSoul Shoes, which is a great example of a company that has merged social responsibility with a solid e-commerce operation.
This two-pronged approach is the result of a glaring problem for many people around the world, particularly children: the absence of shoes.
According to GreenSoul’s website, more than 300 million impoverished children go without shoes every day, the equivalent of every single man, woman and child living in the United States. Being shoeless is not just a clear-cut sign of poverty, it also impacts other quality-of-life elements, such as the ability to go to school. And since walking is the lone mode of transportation for most of these kids, the need for shoes is even greater.
GreenSoul was founded by Alastair Onglingswan, described as a “serial entrepreneur” who has successfully launched a number of companies. He got the idea for GreenSoul during a trip to the Philippines, where he witnessed a severe shortage of shoes among kids living in a shantytown built on a garbage dump. He also noticed that some of the people there were wearing shoes made of recycled tires, of which there were plenty in this particular spot. It occurred to him that using tires and other such refuse materials could not only put shoes on the feet of many children in need, but also help clean up the planet a bit too.
GreenSoul operates using what it calls the “cradle to cradle” approach. The company works with local shoemakers and artisans in developing nations to produce 100% up-cycled products (namely shoes made entirely of rubber tires and inner tubes with no staples, pins or glue), thus giving them an income opportunity and a global market to sell their goods, neither of which they’d likely have otherwise. For every pair of shoes or other eco-friendly product sold, GreenSoul donates a pair of shoes to an underprivileged child in that same community. The company’s overall goal is to shoe one million shoeless children around the globe within five years.
If you head on over to the GreenSoul site and click on the ‘Shop Online’ tab, you’ll find a bunch of cool products for sale in addition to the handsome sandals. We particularly like the clutches and handbags that are made primarily of soda can tabs, which definitely have some style in addition to being eco-friendly. The prices aren’t too bad either. If you’ve got an environmentalist who’s also a bit of a fashionista on your holiday shopping list this year, GreenSoul would be an excellent resource to consider.
We congratulate Alastair Onglingswan and the entire GreenSoul team for their amazing work. They’re truly deserving of this month’s Junkie Award.
Previous Junkie Winners:
Sept 2010: eBay
August 2010: Andrew Cuomo/State of New York
July 2010: Rep. Paul Hodes
June 2010: ACLU
May 2010: Zappos/6pm.com
April 2010: BadCustomer.com