Buycott: new app for smart phones lets you vote with your dollars!

Avoid Koch Industries Campaign

Avoid Koch Industries Campaign

A new free smart phone app is quickly gaining popularity. Last week, 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:

  1. 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?
  2. Open the app and set yourself up with an account, or you can log in with Facebook if you have an account there.
  3. 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.
  4. Joining A Campaign

    Joining A Campaign

    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!

  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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).

My Activity

My Activity

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.

My plans for Black Friday?

Stay home this morning, blog, do homework, do laundry.

Have lunch with my cousin who’s visiting town at Casa de Luz, our local vegan restaurant. I’ve invited my daughter and granddaughter to join us. Haven’t seen them since Wednesday. By the way, I do not follow a vegan diet, but I eat like one sometimes.

Come home and study some more. I have 5 more days of classes at massage school, with significant homework assignments and tests coming up.

Later I will participate in a day-after-Thanksgiving casual potluck dinner with friends. I’m bringing “special drinks” — confident I’ll figure out what that means and prepare or buy something before then.

Shopping? Oh, no, no no! Not me! Not today, except perhaps at a grocery store for the “special drinks”. (Not alcoholic, by the way.)

I really don’t get why people enjoy shopping on Black Friday when so many other people are out shopping. The roads are jammed, parking lots full, retailers compete for your attention and dollars mightily. It’s overload.

In dance, we move into the empty spaces, not the spaces that people are already in.

Actually, it’s unusual for me to enjoy shopping. I’m pretty matter-of-fact about it — know what I want, get in, get out, mission accomplished, whew. The energy of malls often exhausts me rather quickly. I go when it’s not crowded. I also like thrift stores — pre-worn, soft clothing, it’s often easier to find my size, and it’s entertaining — someone wore that? Really?

When I do go to the mall, the Apple store is my favorite store, followed closely by Nordstrom because it feels spacious, the clerks are wonderful, and there’s a nice little restaurant for an escape from the retail scene. Not that I shop there much (it’s expensive), but it’s the rare store in the mall that has good vibes. Nordstrom makes shopping civilized. Apple makes it delightful.

Whatever your choice is, I hope you enjoy this day as fully as you can and let the gratitude deepen.