While standing in line at Starbucks a couple weeks ago, I used my phone to scan one of their sandwiches. With the help of Buycott, a free app I downloaded about a year ago, I saw that Starbucks has dedicated itself to supporting fair labor practices, LGBT equality in the workplace, and Planned Parenthood.
While Buycott doesn’t actually save me money, the app shows me where my money is going when I buy something. That lets me decide if I want to support companies based on what they support.
How it works
Boycott means protesting by refusing to deal with a particular business or individual. A Buycott, in this app, means exactly the opposite: Supporting a business because you agree with what they’re doing.
It works like this…
When you download the app, the first thing you do is join “campaigns,” or groups devoted to causes. For instance, I joined campaigns called “Say No to Factory Farming” and “Avoid Sweatshop and Child Labor.” Each campaign lists companies to buycott and boycott.
Then you simply scan a soda, shirt, sofa, or anything else you want to buy that has a barcode. The app will tell you who sold it to the company you’re buying it from, who owns that company, and what they spend their money on.
When you first scan the item, it will immediately tell you if any of the campaigns you have joined are in conflict, or if the company who receives the profits from that item support something you also support.
You can also look at the other campaigns the company is associated with. For instance, when I scanned a travel-sized package of tissues, the app showed me that they were made by Kleenex, and that Kleenex is owned by Kimberly-Clarke Corporation — which also owns Kotex, Poise, Scott, Huggies, and Cottonelle. I can also see that it’s being Buycotted (supported) by people who wish to support bicycle-friendly businesses, and by those who support LGBTQ equality in the workplace.
Though Buycott can provide some interesting information for me as a consumer, it’s not something I use every time I buy a product. However, once I’ve used it, it usually gives me information about a lot of products at once. In the Kleenex example, if I decided to boycott the company, I could easily figure out what other products and brands I should boycott because they’re owned by Kimberly-Clarke — rather than scanning everything in my cart to find out if it’s produced by Kimberly-Clarke.
When I scanned my Starbucks sandwich, I saw the chain is being boycotted by four campaigns with pro-life messages. Because these campaigns are created and maintained by users, it can get complicated and busy. Still, it’s a free app you should use at least once, regardless of your political views.
What’s your favorite money app? Email us the app and the reasons why, and if we publish them on Debt.com, we’ll pay you $100!