Definition Essay – Brent Adkins

These TOMS Weren’t Made For Walking

Walking is the most common form of transportation for humans.  Except for the handicapable, humans walk everywhere, or at least to their rollerblades or cars that they use to bypass the need for walking further.  Shoes are the guardians of feet and take most of the damage that daily walking would place on bare feet.  This daily wear-and-tear would be considered the “moderate daily use” of shoes which is more intense in impoverished areas like Africa.

Moderate daily use varies from person to person.  In America, the average person walks approximately 2.55 miles per day, whereas the average Australian walks approximately 4.85 miles per day as shown by Parker-Pope.  African children walk anywhere from approximately 1.25 miles to 10.56 miles just to get to school, and then repeat that distance again to get home.  That distance gap creates a difference in moderate daily use, which yields a difference in the rate of replacement necessity for shoes.

For an average American, a pair of athletic shoes, sneakers, may last anywhere from six months to two years.  That means that a sneaker can take approximately 1,135 miles of use before kicking the bucket.  A pair of TOMS shoes on the other hand deteriorates after two weeks to a year, or from personal experience, a few months, developing holes and losing all treading.  That means that TOMS shoes can only take approximately 230 miles before deteriorating, one-fifth the time of a standard sneaker.

African children walk, on average, 4.6 times as much just to get to and from school as an American does total daily.  With that much walking, a pair of non-TOMS sneakers would only last a little over three months.  That means that a child would need two pairs per year just for school.  Change the shoes to TOMS and that child now needs 10 pairs per year.  While the TOMS that get donated to impoverished children may be better than no shoes, when a poor child needs durable shoes for school, TOMS shoes are the worst possible shoe choice.

Works Cited

Parker-Pope, Tara. “The Pedometer Test: Americans Take Fewer Steps.” Nytimes.com. The New York Times, 19 Oct. 2010. Web. 01 Apr. 2013.

Diligent, Lynne. “Dilemmas of an Expat Tutor.” Http://expattutor.wordpress.com/. WordPress, 22 Nov. 2011. Web. 01 Apr. 2013.

Armstrong, Nikki. “What Time Do Your Children Get up for School…and How Far Do They Walk?” Onedifference.org. One Foundation, 15 Feb. 2010. Web. 01 Apr. 2013.

Modern Gal, The. “Are TOMS Shoes All They’re Cracked up to Be?” Thegreenists.com. Allie Larkin, 30 May 2011. Web. 01 Apr. 2013.

Rebecca. “How Long Do TOMS Shoes Last?” Answers.yahoo.com. Yahoo!, 2010. Web. 01 Apr. 2013.

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4 Responses to Definition Essay – Brent Adkins

  1. davidbdale says:

    Hey, Brent!
    Your essay needs a title.

    As you may recall, I’ll be making comments paragraph by paragraph as I read your argument, so you’ll get “live” feedback from a critical reader (some would say too critical).

    P1. That’s an interesting, side-door approach to a definition for “moderate daily use,” Brent. It’s also a clever way to draw our attention, without knowing why we need it, to a consideration of people for whom walking is the primary and everyday mode of transportation. (I would think, to be fair, that kids in villages without cars probably use their shoes a lot harder than a first-world wearer with a car, but maybe that’s just my prejudice.)

    P2. Well, I don’t know who was ahead and who was behind on this point, but we’ve arrived at the same place. Work a mention of Parker-Pope into your sentence for a neat informal citation, Brent. You are certainly taking your time setting up your premise.

    P3. I was going to argue that we Americans throw away our shoes much earlier than would an African kid who doesn’t own four pairs and isn’t sure he can get another, and I still think that’s valid. So your appeal to personal experience is very important here: it establishes that the same person (you) has compared the two shoes under similar conditions. This sounds like a terrible shoe.

    P4. This average statistic seems more valuable than the ranges you gave us in P2. And the first mention of “sneakers” doesn’t read “not Tom’s sneakers,” so it’s easy to get confused. Be clear here; the point’s too good to waste. Why in the world would you make a dramatic claim and then take it back? Give it in doses if it’s too high. Change that to Toms Shoes and the child will need 10 pairs. Hard users might even need 15. The one word “even” builds in plenty of disclaimer.

    You say the opposite of what you mean when you mention durability, Brent. You mean the shoddiness isn’t necessarily a problem.

    Becomes a focal point for shoe choice? Do better.

    Now, overall I completely respect the work you’ve done here, Brent. The writing is fluent and mostly clear and you say just enough to demonstrate Toms Shoes are flimsy, but for your essay to function well as a standalone piece of writing, it needs a practical relevance.

    You might say that, while shoes are always better than no shoes, of all the shoes a child who walks ten miles to school could use, the worst would be a pair that wears out before the semester is over. In other words, without making your entire argument about charity and shoes, indicate that the crappiness of Toms Shoes is more than a consumer product failure; it’s a failure to meet the needs of a targeted recipient of a particular kind of charity. See what I mean?

    I’d love to know if you find these comments useful, Brent, and not merely annoying. Please respond, and also, be prepared to share with your classmates in class today whatever lessons you have learned from this feedback. Thanks.

  2. adkins70 says:

    As always, your insight is more than helpful and I will be using each detail you provide to enhance my essay. Truly, your comments are extremely beneficial.

  3. adkins70 says:

    I have updated my essay.

  4. davidbdale says:

    Thanks for the comment to let me know, Brent. This would usually be followed by an appreciation for your improvements, but as you know, I comment as I read, so I don’t know anything about your improvements yet.

    Needs a title.

    P1. This is nice and clean. It’s an enjoyable opening. It might not compel me to read P2 though. You haven’t told me why walking is meaningful or made me feel I needed a definition for moderate daily use of shoes.

    Two style notes. 1) “Short of the handicapable” sounds unfortunately like you’re pointing out a shortcoming, the last thing you want to do. The simpler “except the handicapable” avoids misinterpretation. 2) Your “still” follows a sentence that emphasizes the need to walk and essentially says: we need to walk, even so we need to walk.

    P2. I still think average walking distances provide an easier comparison than ranges, but you have to use the numbers you can find.

    P3. The important part of your Toms sentence is that they deteriorate, not that they last. The first shoes last for 1000 miles; the second type develops holes before it gets to 300 miles.

    Does the fact that the shoes break down mean that they only last a few miles? Or are those just two ways to express the same thing?

    P4. This paragraph shows the proper use of means. The idea of a shoe being a “poster-child” is too jarring for me, Brent. The child is the poster child.

    Have I mentioned the poster popular in the 70s, cynical about US aid intentions, of a befuddled third-world aid recipient opening a CARE package packed with Baby Ruth bars?

    This capable essay works its way calmly toward its inevitable conclusion, guiding us through the clear claims toward that understanding that the recipient has received something not well chosen to help him. The only thing it fails to do is let us know in P1 that the trip will be worthwhile. It would benefit from a prophecy that could be fulfilled or not. The best way to help a needy child who walks 20 miles to school and back would be with a pair of durable shoes to get him through a couple of grade. (The cruelest joke would be to promise him shoes and then deny him.) Set it up any way you like, but pull us into this story before we bail.

    Overall very fine, Brent. Without going back to compare the versions, I am much happier with this confident argument. Grade recorded.

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