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How ethical and sustainable is TOMS? 

TOMS is well known for being a forerunner of the ethical and sustainable shoes and trainer market, and is known for its ‘One-For-One‘ purchasing schemes. But is this brand really as sustainable as it claims to be? TOMS has been researched and rated by The Good Shopping Guide for its business ethics related to the Environment, Animals and People. See how TOMS ranks on our Shoes & Trainers: Ethical Comparison Ratings Table and compare it to other popular brands.

Because it has reached our Ethical Benchmark, TOMS is able to apply for Ethical Accreditation from The Good Shopping Guide.

You can find out more information about the Ethical Shoes and Trainers industry in our comprehensive guide.

About TOMS

Toms, sometimes known as TOMS, is a for-profit organisation with headquarters in Los Angeles, California. The business, which was established in 2006 by Arlington, Texas-based entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie, also creates and sells eyewear, coffee, clothing, and handbags.

In December 2019, founder Mycoskie lost ownership of the business after it was taken over by its creditors Jefferies Financial Group Inc, Nexus Capital Management LP, and Brookfield Asset Management Inc.

While competing alongside his sister in The Amazing Race’s second season in 2002, Blake Mycoskie travelled to Argentina. When he got back, he ran across a woman who was volunteering to give children’s shoes. Mycoskie volunteered and has stated that the experience of distributing shoes and the numerous youngsters he met without shoes gave him the idea for his eventual business.

In order to give a new pair of shoes to Argentinean and other developing country youth for every pair of alpargata (slip-on shoes) sold, he made the decision to create them for the North American market. Mycoskie claims that Bill Gates encouraged him by claiming that children’s ailments were largely caused by a lack of shoes.

Does TOMS provide an Environmental Report?

On TOMS’ sustainability page, there are goals for using recycled materials as well as sustainable cotton and its carbon impact. An Impact Report is also available, which covers general ethical activities and provides evidence of advancement. TOMS receives the highest score for this Environmental Report.

Several Sustainable Materials, such as organic cotton, recycled cotton, jute, recycled polyester, recycled rubber, and recycled foam, are used in many TOMS goods. In addition to other products created with a sizable portion of sustainable ingredients, TOMS offers a “Earthwise” line of footwear. The “Earthwise™ Collection offers sustainable and vegan shoes made with recycled and recyclable materials…. Once you’ve worn out your favourite style, you can take them to a reclaim center [sic] to be recycled into another product – closing the loop for recycling.”

Is TOMS an Ethical Trader?

Though TOMS is not officially a member of the Ethical Trading Initiative, it is subscribed to the Fair Labour Association.

TOMS also runs lots of ethical initiatives relating to the Environment, Animals and People, including providing shoes, medical treatment and mental health facilities to vulnerable communities in developing countries. The company runs ‘Giving Tuesdays‘, invests in Anti-Racism training for its company, and give money to employees to invest in organisations they’re a part of.

TOMS’ criticisms 

TOMS has been criticised for its ‘One For One‘ model, and some critics have questioned how many of TOMS’ initiatives are truly helpful to poor communities in developing countries. Additionally, in April 2022, the Good on You ratings, which assess company practices on people, planet, and animals, ranked TOMS as ‘not good enough’.

How could TOMS improve its Ethical Ratings in The Good Shopping Guide‘s Shoes & Trainers: Ethical Comparison Ratings Table?

TOMS could publish an Animal Welfare Policy, and apply for Ethical Accreditation with The Good Shopping Guide, which would give our research team even further access to the brand’s ethical and sustainability policies.

If your shoes and trainers brand values ethics and sustainability, why not check out The Good Shopping Guide‘s Ethical Accreditation? Increase customer and investor confidence and stand out from the greenwash.

Ethical performance in category


GSG score


GSG category benchmark


Ethical Rating


  • Environmental Report


  • Nuclear Power


  • Sustainable Materials


  • Fossil Fuels



  • Animal Welfare


  • Vegan Options



  • Armaments


  • Code of Conduct


  • Political Donations


  • Ethical Trading Schemes


  • Human Rights



  • Ethical Accreditation


  • Other Criticisms


= GSG Top Rating = GSG Middle Rating = GSG Bottom Rating