by Sophie Holin, Gaia Intern
Anyone who’s anyone knows that voting with your dollar is one of the most significant ways to make change in our modern consumerist world. But, what if the dollars you are spending are actually funding the causes you oppose? You may be unknowingly contributing to the problems you care about fixing.
As the holidays come around, you might be thinking about buying your loved ones the gifts they deserve. Before you step foot outside your door on shopping day, get this app! Buycott gives you background information on products to let you know whether their company’s ownership structure conflicts with your interests. It’s easy.
First you add yourself to the campaigns you care about. Each campaign will have a set goal and a list of corporations that it aims to support or avoid.
Next, when you’re at the store, scan the barcode on a product of your choice and viola! The app will tell you if the product complies to your social and political beliefs.
What’s more is that if a campaign you are passionate about is not on the list of available options, you can create your own on the Buycott website.
With finals coming up, I realized I would need to buy some healthy study snacks. I biked downtown to the Food Bin and bought a couple protein bars. After hearing about and then downloading the free Buycott app, I decided to test it out on my new snacks. After joining 30 campaigns that pertained to my interests, I used the camera on my iPhone to scan the barcode on my Larabar Banana Cookie Nutritional Bar. Right away, a profile of the bar popped up. The description told me that the company of Larabar (Small Planet Foods, Inc.) supported 2 campaigns but also avoided 2 others that I had joined.
The two campaigns that Small Planet Foods, Inc. supported were the “Support our Bees: Pollinator Protector” and “End Animal Testing”. That was good to hear! Next I tapped the “2 Avoiding” button, which told me that the company avoided “Buy Organic Brands that Support Your Right to Know” and “Say Yes to Organics”. Even more background information was provided to back these statements. Apparently, the company had donated $1,230,300 against Prop 37 in California. This proposition would have required labeling of genetically engineered food.
While all this background information is helpful, I didn’t know what actions I should take. Then I saw the “Suggested Alternatives” tab! It listed other options under “Nutritional Bars” that only supported the campaigns I did. The first option was “Health Valley F-Factor Cinnamon Apple Bar”, yum!
According to the new app’s 26-year old, L.A. based, freelance programmer, Ivan Pardo “its [not] Buycott’s role to tell people what to buy. [It] simply wants to provide a platform that empowers consumers to make well-informed purchasing decisions.”