When people realized that Chick-fil-A was allegedly donating millions of dollars to anti-gay groups, many vowed to never order from the fast-food chain again. They didn’t want their money funding something they opposed.
And that’s the whole concept behind Buycott, a new app for the iPhone and Android that lets users scan product bar codes and find out if the companies behind that product conflict with, or support, the user’s beliefs.
One of the first steps in signing up for the free app is choosing campaigns. The user selects from a list of various initiatives ranging from “Avoid Sweatshop & Child Labor” to “Support Local Craft Beer.” When a product’s bar code is scanned, the app reveals the company, or companies, involved in its manufacture and whether or not they have actively supported or opposed any of the user’s campaigns.
We downloaded the app and selected the following campaigns just to test it out:
We scanned some Aveeno lotion, Progresso red kidney beans, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese Dinner, Quaker Oats oatmeal, Bounty paper towels, a 2-liter bottle of Mountain Dew, Farmland Dairies half & half, Chobani yogurt, Coors Light and Brooklyn Brewery lager.
The only campaign that popped up was “Demand GMO Labeling.” (However, the app was just launched this month, so you can expect the campaigns to become more comprehensive and the number of campaigns to increase.) When we scanned Progresso, a red bar appeared at the top telling us we’re “avoiding this company,” and explained that it had donated $1,135,300 to “No on Prop 37,” the California proposition for mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Kraft, Quaker Oats and PepsiCo all produced similar messages with hefty donations against Prop 37.
You can also view the “Family Tree” for each company, which shows what brand the product is affiliated with, what company, what parent company, etc. Or view the entire list of campaigns the company is associated with — green means the company supports the initiative, while red means they’ve opposed it in some way.
The app definitely still has its glitches. It had to be temporarily removed from the Google Play store on Wednesday so developers could address issues, and it’s working to expand its product directory; but overall, it’s a helpful tool for shoppers who want their spending to reflect their principles.