Choosing what to buy when you’re trying to be an ethical consumer is tricky. In a world where hippie holdout Ben and Jerry’s is now a corporate sellout owned by Unilever, how can we know who owns what, and which products we should boycott?
Luckily (and you knew this was coming), There’s An App For That™. It’s called Buycott, and by just scanning a barcode, you can find out which scheming ne’erdowells are behind the brand.
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). 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
It’s pretty great. Or I guess it is. I just went through the pantry scanning anything with a barcode and came up short. All our products are – apparently – squeaky clean. That’s probably because The Lady does much of the food shopping and only buys stuff made nearby. I, on the other hand, buy anything and everything. The reason that I can’t scan them is that the foods inside are so toxic that they have melted the lines of the barcodes right off the packs.
Buycott works well, and takes only a few seconds to come up with a result. If it doesn’t know all the details of a target product it prompts you to add the unknown info – presumably on the basis that if you use this app then you’re clearly some kind of hippie-dippie idealist who is happy to work for no pay.
One thing I don’t like is that you’re forced to sign up for an account before you can start scanning. Still, no confirmation requirement has yet appeared in my inbox so you can probably use a fake name and email address quite happily, just in case "the man" is tracking radical activists like you and "getting on their cases."
Anyway, along with the Amazon app that lets you order goods cheaper even as you stand in a physical store, Buycott now adds yet another reason for shopkeepers to hate you. I hope you’re proud of yourself, in your ivory tower (NB: you should probably do something about that ivory tower before the PETA people pay you a visit).