Attention progressive shoppers! Check out the Buycott app

Posted by AZBlueMeanie:

Remember back around 2004 the attempt to create a "Buy Blue" list of businesses that are progressive? There was hesitation by many businesses to participate, because they feared the knee-jerk reaction of wingnuts who would boycott their business if they were identified as progressive.

During the Sandra Fluke advertising boycott of the drug adled Rush Limbaugh, I would get requests for a list of his advertisers to boycott. (This boycott is still going strong, by the way, and Rush may be losing his contract with at least one radio network over the loss of advertising dollars).

Rejoice progressive shoppers! Now "there's an app for that." New App Lets You Boycott Koch Brothers, Monsanto And More By Scanning Your Shopping Cart – Forbes:

In her keynote speech at last year’s annual Netroots Nation gathering, Darcy Burner pitched a seemingly simple idea to the thousands of bloggers and web developers in the audience. The former Microsoft programmer and congressional candidate proposed a smartphone app
allowing shoppers to swipe barcodes to check whether conservative billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch were behind a product on the shelves.

Burner figured the average supermarket shopper had no idea that
buying Brawny paper towels, Angel Soft toilet paper or Dixie cups meant
contributing cash to Koch Industries
through its subsidiary Georgia-Pacific. Similarly, purchasing a pair of
yoga pants containing Lycra or a Stainmaster carpet meant indirectly
handing the Kochs your money (Koch Industries bought Invista, one of the
world’s largest fiber and textiles companies, in 2004 from DuPont).

At the time, Burner created a mock interface for her app,
but that’s as far as she got. She was waiting to find the right team to
build out the back end, which could be complicated given often murky
corporate ownership structures.

She wasn’t aware that as she delivered her Netroots speech, a group of developers was hard at work on Buycott, an even more sophisticated version of the app she proposed.

“I remember reading Forbes’ story on
the proposed app to help boycott Koch Industries and wishing that we
were ready to launch our product,” said Buycott’s marketing director
Maceo Martinez.

The app itself is the work of one Los Angeles-based 26-year-old
freelance programmer, Ivan Pardo, who has devoted the last 16 months to
Buycott
. “It’s been completely bootstrapped up to this point,” he said.
Martinez and another friend have pitched in to promote the app.

Pardo’s handiwork is available for download on iPhone or Android, making its debut in iTunes and Google Play in early May. You can scan the barcode on any product and the
free app will trace its ownership all the way to its top corporate
parent company, including conglomerates like Koch Industries.
Once you’ve scanned an item, Buycott will show you its corporate
family tree on your phone screen
. Scan a box of Splenda sweetener, for
instance, and you’ll see its parent, McNeil Nutritionals, is a
subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.

Even more impressively, you can join user-created campaigns to boycott
business practices that violate your principles rather than single
companies
. One of these campaigns, Demand GMO Labeling,
will scan your box of cereal and tell you if it was made by one of the
36 corporations that donated more than $150,000 to oppose the mandatory
labeling of genetically modified food.

* * *

Buycott is still working on adding new data to its back end and
fine-tuning its information on corporate ownership structures
. Most
companies in the current database actually own more brands than Buycott
has on record. The developers are asking shoppers to help improve their
technology by inputting names of products they scan that the app doesn’t
already recognize.

* * *

There are Buycott campaigns encouraging shoppers to support brands
that have, say, openly backed LGBT rights. You can scan a bottle of
Absolut vodka or a bag of Starbucks coffee beans and learn that both companies have come out for equal marriage.

“I don’t want to push any single point of view with the app,” said
Pardo. “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.”

Note: The story reports that there has been such high demand for the app that the servers are having problems keeping up. They are working on the problem, so keep trying.

0 responses to “Attention progressive shoppers! Check out the Buycott app

  1. Francine Shacter

    I have a Samsung – will I be able to get it?????

  2. Donna Crane

    This is a great idea. I hope you’re going to included stores (Walmart, Hobby Lobby, etc) who have taken stands against equal pay, decent pay, against healthcare for employees, banning coverage of BC, etc in your app.

  3. David Safier

    I just read that he pulled the Android version because it had some glitches, but will have it back up when he fixes it. The Apple version is still available, though because of demand, it can take some time to get.