A new smartphone app lets users put their money where their principles are.
Patrick James Drennan
People buying Angel Soft toilet paper probably don’t realize that they’re contributing to the coffers of Koch industries, a company that’s spent millions on organizations that work to suppress workers’ rights, pass anti-immigration legislation and fuel global-warming denial. But when thousands of products on supermarket shelves fall under the corporate umbrella of companies like Koch, it’s difficult to determine who’s getting your money and to what political end it’s being used. So up stepped 26-year-old freelance programmer Ivan Pardo, who designed a smartphone app that can help you figure it out: Buycott.
Pardo decided to create Buycott after hearing Congressional candidate Darcy Burner (D-Wash.) propose the idea of an app that allows consumers to see the corporations behind the products on supermarket shelves during her keynote speech at last year’s netroots nation. Beyond tracing the corporate family tree of everyday goods, Buycott also allows users to create and join campaigns that sort companies according to how their practices affect certain issues. For example, if you join the campaign “Demand GMO labeling,” you’ll be alerted when a product you’ve scanned is linked to one of 36 companies identified as having opposed the mandatory labeling of genetically modified food.
Buycott can be downloaded for free from Apple’s App store and Android’s Google Play.