A new free smart phone app is quickly gaining popularity. Last week Forbes.com, the business magazine, profiled it in this article, New App Lets You Boycott Koch Brothers, Monsanto, and More By Scanning Your Shopping Cart. (Well done, Forbes! I didn’t know you had it in you.)
The article has already gotten about 440,000 shares on Facebook, which probably qualifies it as being pretty close to viral. I downloaded the app, but apparently they were overwhelmed with new users and still working on some functionality after the Forbes article.
Today it appears to be working fine. I took it for a test ride at my local H-E-B.
To me, this app represents a capitalist democracy functioning at its finest. Companies are of course very sensitive to sales, and at the same time many are making unprecedented use of corporate dollars to influence the governmental representatives that we voted into office to do their bidding. They’ve bought our politicians, and the Supreme Court has given its blessing.
So who’s watching out for us?
We the people can vote with our money and influence those companies to act more in our interests. Yes, we not only get to vote in the voting booth, but now this app makes it really easy to vote with our pocketbooks at the point of sale, which is probably way more effective than just voting in a booth in these days of Citizens v. United.
Here’s how to use it:
- Download the free app. When I first went to the website, it said the Android app is coming soon. The iPhone app is available in the Apple app store. Did I mention it’s free?
- Open the app and set yourself up with an account, or you can log in with Facebook if you have an account there.
- Note the three buttons at the bottom: Activity, Scan, and Campaigns. Click the Campaigns button to view and join campaigns. Next, select a category. For example, I selected Health.
A list of health-related campaigns appear. I selected the campaign “YES to Organic+NonGMO — NO to Monsanto+GMOs” (see photo at right). I can now view information about this campaign, lists of companies and brands aligned with this campaign’s purpose, and Buycott members who’ve joined this campaign. I simply clicked a button to join this campaign. Click the Back button to continue to select the categories and campaigns you want to support. Now you’re ready to shop!
- When you are in a store considering a purchase and want to know if the money you pay will support or oppose your values, open the app and click Scan. Hover the phone’s camera over the product’s bar code so that you can view the entire code on the screen. Hold the phone steady for 2-3 seconds until a message says the bar code is loading.
- Once the company info appears, you can see whether it supports the campaigns you support. You can view company info, its family tree, and the campaigns it supports, and make a decision about purchasing the product that’s in line with your values.
- To scan another item, click Close and do steps 5 and 6 again.
If you want to see a history of your actions (campaigns joined, items scanned, etc.), click Activity (see photo below).
That’s pretty much it!
So, just for fun, next time you go to the store, go to the soda aisle and scan a bottle of Coke. Then take a look at its family tree. The screenshot below shows the companies/brands owned by Coca-Cola. You have to do a lot of horizontal scrolling to see them all. Then click Campaigns to see where the company stands in relation to your values.