It’s hard to remain a ‘concerned’ citizen nowadays because you can never tell whether a product you’re buying comes from a company whose ethics are questionable or worse. There are so many different degrees of ownership in the major corporates, that it’s almost impossible to trace who owns what when it comes to consumer products on the shelves.
Which is why it’s great to see this new Buycott app for iPhone (and soon Android) which lets you scan a product barcode in the store and see whether it meets your goals and ethical principles, or whether it’s owned or partnered with an organization that you don’t like.
You select campaigns you care about (e.g. genetically modified foods, child labor, human rights etc) and the app automatically gives you a graphical indication of whether a product you’re thinking of buying conflicts with those principles. It’s quick, clear and very simple to use, and after a while you’ll easily be able to distinguish which companies fit your choices and which don’t.
At the end of the day there’s very little we consumers can do to help effect change in the world, except vote with our wallets, and this is a superb first step towards demonstrating how we feel without risking arrest and vilification. If enough people stop buying products from the ‘nasty’ companies, then maybe those companies will be forced to re-think the policies that are in question.
I believe they used to call it ‘people power’.