A new smartphone application lets consumers scan barcodes to find out which cause or corporation is behind the product. Buycott users can boycott companies that support causes they find unethical and organize spending so it all goes to causes they care about.
Developed by 26-year-old Ivan Pardo, the free app was released earlier this month for Apple and Android platforms. It accesses product information and the track record of the company that makes it, a tricky task to undertake on your own.
“When you use Buycott to scan a product, it will look up the product, determine what brand it belongs to, and figure out what company owns that brand (and who owns that company, ad infinitum),” says Buycott’s website. “It will then cross-check the product owners against the companies and brands included in the campaigns you've joined, in order to tell you if the scanned product conflicts with one of your campaign commitments.”
Users can follow preset campaigns or start their own to either support of avoid certain issues, such as gay marriage or animal welfare.
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The app has a preset campaign that will tell users if a product was made by a company that has opposed labels that would identify food that is genetically modified. “This campaign starts with a list of all companies that donated more than $150,000 to oppose GMO labeling in California,” says the campaign description. “For a company to be removed from the list, it must publicly commit to supporting mandatory GMO labeling on food.”
Another campaign, called Avoid Koch Industries, lets users avoid investments by the big oil brothers who have “have spent $61.4 million fueling climate change denialism” since 1997.
“I don’t want to push any single point of view with the app,” said Pardo. “For me, it was critical to allow users to create campaigns because I don’t think its Buycott’s role to tell people what to buy. We simply want to provide a platform that empowers consumers to make well-informed purchasing decisions.”