A new "ethical shopping" app uses a barcode scanner so that you can check the provenance of the products you buy.
(Credit: Buycott Inc)
When you're putting groceries in your shopping trolley, it's not always easy to tell where your money is going. A new free app for iOS and Android aims to let you know if you're supporting a company whose practices you disagree with.
Called Buycott, it incorporates a barcode scanner that allows you to quickly locate the item and its parent company. Once an item has been scanned, you can view a "family tree" that traces it all the way to the top. Unfortunately, the app presupposes that you already know which companies have dodgy policies, which makes it not so useful for the purpose of edification.
The idea is that the database will be user generated. Campaigns to boycott companies are started and supported by the app's users; for example, a campaign against Monsanto will let you know which items are produced by the agricultural company, so that you can refuse to buy them.
The app is still in its infancy, so content is a little thin on the ground. We found ourselves comparing it unfavourably to the excellent Shop Ethical, which contains a large, searchable database of companies that sell in Australia, as well as detailed information about their practices (but no barcode scanner).
It is also not made clear how to create a campaign — and the app itself is having server issues, and ran very slowly when we tested it.
However, if you're interested in paying attention to where your money goes, it might be worth adding to your app collection, and helping its information — and campaign — database grow into some semblance of local usefulness.