A new smartphone app will help consumers determine whether products they buy are owned by companies whose values align with their own, reports a Forbes article.
The free app, called Buycott, permits users to scan the barcode of a product and track the corporate chain of ownership all the way up to large parent companies such as Monsanto, Koch Industries and Johnson & Johnson.
In addition to showing the corporate family tree of a particular product, Buycott allows users to create and join campaigns. The app will then alert users if a product they scan does not fall in line with the principles of the campaigns they have joined. Campaigns on the Buycott app span a variety of issues including “Avoid Koch Industries,” “Demand GMO Labeling” and “Avoid George Soros Investments.”
A 26-year-old freelance programmer from California, Ivan Pardo, created Buycott. Pardo made clear in his interview with Forbes he is not promoting a particular political agenda with the app and that users will be able to cater Buycott to their particular value system.
“I don’t want to push any single point of view with the app,” Pardo said. “For me, it was critical to allow users to create campaigns because I don’t think its 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.”
However, boycotting a company may bring unintended economic and social consequences, such as putting workers out of a job, according to Koch Industries spokeswoman Missy Cohlmia.
“Boycotting our products doesn’t just hurt a company," she said in an interview with Daniel McCoy at the Wichita Business Journal. "It hurts those employees and employees who are members of unions.”
McCoy reports that Koch employs 50,000 workers in the U.S., and more than a third of them are members of unions.
Buycott counters this criticism by labeling itself as the “opposite of a boycott.” While the app aids purchasers in avoiding certain companies’ products, users can also create campaigns that encourage consumers to purchase products from companies whose practices do match their value system.