There are plenty of applications out there to help you be a good consumer. In most cases they simply provide an easier way for you to shop on the go. For example, the Amazon application allows you to access your account from anywhere so that you can order goods and have them shipped whether you’re at home, at work, in the airport, or anywhere else. Then there are apps like RedLaser that scan products in stores and tell you where to buy them the cheapest (either at nearby stores or online outlets). And there are even programs that help you to make healthier choices, such as Fooducate, which lets you see how the foods you scan are rated, health-wise, and what you might try instead if you want something more nutritious. But now there is an application that has taken the concept a step further. By downloading the Buycott app you can get the ethical 411 on the products you buy every day.
While this app is free to download for iOS devices, you should be forewarned that it has gained such quick notoriety that it seems to be a little worse for the wear. But whether there’s a lag due to ramping up the servers to handle the load or they’re simply still in the beta phase, the truth is that when the app is working it’s pretty amazing. So if you’re willing to overlook a few hiccups and hope that the developer irons out the kinks over the next few months, you should definitely give it a whirl. Here’s what you’ll get when the app is functioning at full strength.
You can start off by scanning items in your grocery cart, and you’ll be amazed by what you discover. The application delivers a variety of information designed to tell you just how ethical the product is, whether in and of itself, through the manufacturing process, or via the company that makes it. For example, you can choose to take a look at the family tree of the company you’re supporting through the purchase of their products. Say you want to buy a frozen pizza. Did you know that brands like DiGiorno and Tombstone are amongst the nearly 8,000 companies under the Nestle umbrella? And did you further know that there is a global boycott against the parent company due to fair trade violations and other unethical acts? So maybe you want to get delivery instead of DiGiorno after all.
You can also get a snapshot of the unethical practices of the company itself to see if it has put money into campaigns to prevent GMO food labeling. Of course, you may also find that some of the products you buy are totally ethical and that the companies producing them are making efforts to increase ethical mandates for all businesses. But that’s not all the app does; it also allows you to join campaigns that interest you. For example, you could choose to support the LGBT community or oppose animal testing, and joining such campaigns would help the app to notify you when you scan items that are at odds with your ethical beliefs.
There are certainly bound to be people who don’t find this app particularly appealing. Some would rather live in blissful ignorance and continue eating their Dreyer’s ice cream (Nestle) guilt-free. They’ll turn to the internet and mobile space when it suits them, using http://www.ratesupermarket.ca/ to find the best interest rates or RedLaser to get the best prices on their purchases; but they don’t want their smartphone to deliver moral recriminations every time they purchase a cookie. Buycott is not for those people. If you care about the plight of the planet and its many inhabitants and you want to do whatever you can to make a difference then this app is where it’s at. You just might have to be willing to suffer some growing pains as it ramps up to handle the massive attention it has already garnered.