Under the most unlikely circumstances, the would-be founder of Falling Whistles, Sean Carasso, found himself in the middle of a complicated rescue of five child soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Those boys were eventually freed, but their story and the fate of all of the boys’ fellow child soldiers stayed with Sean.
The children who are too small to carry a gun are given a whistle instead, sent to the front lines, and ordered to alert the soldiers of oncoming danger with a blast of the whistle. No protection offered, no choice but to face the enemy. Die or play dead.
Falling Whistles advocates for peace in the DRC through political channels in the U.S. and abroad. They sell Falling Whistles necklaces and tee shirts to help fund their efforts. Pick up one of these statement pieces and read about FW’s progress in the DRC on their blog. Thousands of whistleblowers thank you.
Statistics show that any given person is 84.6 percent likelier to be hip if they’re wearing a pair of 4sight sunglasses*. Maybe it’s because they’re just that awesome to begin with: 4sight gives a pair of corrective lenses to a person in need for every pair of affordable, Italian-crafted sunglasses they sell. Or maybe it’s how they look in a shiny new pair of Apache Flat-Tops.
My guess? It’s a perfect combination of both.
*Totally made that up. But you get the point.
It may have not been the first business to adopt the buy-one-give-one model, but TOMS Shoes is certainly the most popular. Blake Mycoskie founded the company in 2006 after a trip to Argentina and models his shoes after the alpargata, a traditional Argentine farming shoe. The style is simple and comfortable and decidedly summer-friendly, so in 2009 and 2010, TOMS introduced wrap boots, “botas”, and “cordones” to provide a bit more warmth during the winter months.
When you buy a pair of TOMS shoes, you’re really buying two – one for you and one for a child who needs them in places like Haiti, Ethiopia, New Orleans, and of course, Argentina. They often manufacture donated shoes in different styles in order to be region-appropriate (boots in Ethiopia, for example) and take kids’ fashion preferences and school requirements into consideration. As of last year, TOMS has donated one million pairs of shoes to kids in 20 countries. And if you don’t like shoes, don’t fret: TOMS will donate a pair for every tee-shirt, necklace, and hoodie sold, too.
L. is a one-for-one condom company founded by Red Cross photographer Talia Frenkel. Her aim is to curb the spread of HIV by focusing on targeted, female-centric condom distribution in high-risk areas of Africa.
For every condom purchased, one is donated through Direct Relief International. L. is also working on developing relationships with smaller grassroots and women-owned businesses to ensure that condom distribution fits the local culture and reaches those who need them most.
The 12-packs of condoms are offered in a variety of styles and fits, and for the optimistic, L. offers a monthly subscription service at 20% off the regular price. Who knew getting lucky could be so good?
Playing sports can be a fantastic way to bridge cultural divides, whether we’re talking professional-level soccer or a dusty pick-up game between U.S. soldiers and the local children. In the spirit of fair play, Fair Trade Sports sells fair trade footballs, soccer balls, basketballs, rugby balls and frisbees and donates its after-tax profits to children’s charities.
Laotians have a lot of garbage to deal with.
Millions of bombs (most exploded, some not) litter Laos’s forests and countryside, the legacy of a decade of unthinkable bombardment during the Vietnam War. Some citizens have found resourceful ways to put those tools of destruction to good use. That’s how peaceBOMB began.
Artists work with Article 22 to create the simple bangle bracelets that are sold on their website. Profits go first to the Laotian artists and their families, then to development projects: access to electricity, education funds, etc.
Check them out here. (Bonus: Article 22 also has some beautiful scarves and handbags for sale!)
More hipster-cool than you can shake a stick at.
For $95 you get a pair of top-of-the-line designer glasses in one of more than 30 geeky-meets-classic styles (including a monocle!). But Warby Parker doesn’t stop there. They work with Restoring Vision to send one pair of glasses to a person who needs them for every pair they sell. What’s cooler than that?
Warby Parker makes it super-easy to pick a pair by offering free shipping on up to 5 pairs (so you can try them out at home) and a virtual try-on that’s totally addicting. Make those snooty 20-20’ers green with envy.