Buycott App Lets You Vote with Your Wallet

Sometimes, corporations dip their toes into politics, either by lobbying against reduction of greenhouse gas emissions or contributing to groups that discourage same-sex marriage. Consumers deserve to know if they are purchasing products that would fund causes they do not support. A recently-launched app called Buycott helps consumers vote with their wallets by informing them about products that come from companies they despise, both politically and socially.

The free app is created by Ivan Pardo, a 26-year-old freelance programmer from Los Angeles, who devoted his last 16 months to develop Buycott. He released the app in early May while he was “completely bootstrapped,” with two of his friends pitching in to promote the app.

Currently available on the Apple App Store (the Android version pulled out to resolve bugs), consumers simply scan the bar code on any product and Buycott traces who owns them, all the way to its top corporate parent company. It shows the product’s “family tree” and informs users what its parent company and every organization in between have contributed in the political and social fronts. For instance, scanning a box of Splenda sweetener would show that its parent company, McNeil Nutritionals, is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, which has been consistently praised for being environment-friendly.

Users can also create its own campaigns to boycott business practices that violate their principles instead of targeting specific companies. One of these campaigns, Demand GMO Labeling, would inform users if that box of cereal is made by one of 36 corporations that donated significant amounts of money to oppose the mandatory labeling of genetically-modified food. It is while using Buycott you will realize just how many products you might end up not buying because its parent companies refused mandatory GMO labeling, such as Coca-Cola, Nestle, Kraft, Heinz, Kellogg’s, and Unilever among others.

The app can also be used to look for products that support your principles. Consumers who support LGBT rights may be delighted to support Absolut and Starbucks, both of which have come out to announce their support for equal marriage.

As of this posting, Buycott is still working on its database, as many companies in its current roster actually owns more brands than the app has on record. Users can help improve the app’s data by inputting names of products they scan that Buycott does not recognize.

The app deliberately does not provide alternative product choices to users. “I don’t want to push any single point of view with the app,” Pardo told Forbes. “For me, it was critical to allow users to create campaigns because I don’t think it’s 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.”

Source: Forbes

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