Buycott - using barcodes to shop ethically
This month has seen the release of new app “Buycott” which allows those ethically concious shoppers with smartphones to use the barcode scanning capabilities of their phone to filter what makes it to their shopping basket on the basis of their personal, political or ethical beliefs. It can be tricky to know where your money ends up when you buy products and with the number of multinational companies buying out smaller start-ups, seemingly ‘innocent’ brands can result in your money going towards causes that you may not choose to support yourself.
The app works by asking you to join ‘campaigns’ (or create your own if the one you are looking for doesn’t already exist). These campaigns have ‘goals’ with a list of companies that they aim to support or avoid – the current campaign list (http://www.buycott.com/campaign/all) features a diverse range of causes including campaigns to avoid GMOs and to support companies who in turn support Planned Parenthood. Once you have joined or created a campaign you can use the app to scan products as you browse the shelves of a shop to check that they do not oppose your personal campaigns and causes.
The database that allows for this has been built up from current knowledge of corporate ownership by the app creators. However, owing to the complexities of corporate ownership and the ever-changing links between companies and brands, this is a database that needs to change with the times. Being a free app, Buycott is hoping that the public will contribute to maintaining this up-to-date database of product information. This app presents an interesting opportunity to move the power of informed shopping back into the hands of consumers and demonstrates the benefits that mobile barcode reading technology can bring everyday tasks such as grocery shopping.
To read more about Buycott visit the website here http://www.buycott.com/ or the appstore to download.