Do you know where your money goes when you buy a roll of paper towels or a box of artificial sweetener? Well you should, because you might be directly supporting a corporation whose agenda doesn’t align with your values.
Los Angeles-based freelance programmer Ivan Pardo doesn’t like the lack of transparency associated with corporate family trees, so he and his buddies have created a tool to show us the connections between the products we buy and the companies who profit from them. Its called Buycott. When you open the app and scan an item’s barcode, youll see not just the name of the company at the top of the food chain, but every subsidiary that gets paid along the way. The program’s interface is very user-friendly, allowing for quick research while you’re on the go at the supermarket.
For example, lets say youre thinking about buying a carton of Lactaid Fat Free Milk, Buycott will inform you that the product is owned by Lactaid, which is owned by Macneil Nutrionals LLC, which is in turn a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson. If you have issue with the way Johnson & Johnson is doing business, you can keep your money out of their hands by choosing a different product.
Pardo’s app arrives at a time when people are clamoring for more transparency about the products they buy. In fact, Forbes blogger Clare O’Connor writes that last year’s Netroots Nation assembly featured former Microsoft programmer Darcy Burner, who proposed an idea very similar to Buycott. Her primary goal was to let people know when theyre buying products associated with Charles and David Koch of (Koch Industries, Inc.) so that they could make a different choice. The Koch brothers are wealthy, and they publicly endorse many conservative ideas, organizations and politicians.
But not everyone is a conservative. While Burner’s app would have shown people how to avoid a small handful of companies, Buycott doesnt care what your politics are, and the app does a whole lot more.
You can use it to find products owned by corporations that you support. You can create or join campaigns that allow you to buy items that would directly fund access to reproductive healthcare or clean and renewable energy, among others. According to CNET, scanning a product with Buycott will even provide information about genetically modified organisms (GMO), which the government currently doesn’t require on packaging.
Buycott isn’t about advocating a specific left-wing or right-wing agenda. Its sole purpose is to empower you to make “well-informed purchasing decisions. Essentially, Buycott gives you the tools you need to put your money where your mouth is.
Buycott is available for iPhones now, with an Android version coming soon. If you want to make a statement every time you head down to your local grocery store, then get the app. Itll show you which organizations youre inadvertently supporting every time you make a purchase.
Would you be interested in using Buycott? Do you care where your money goes once it’s been handed to the cashier? Do you think Buycott will change the way we spend our money? Let’s chat in the comments below.