Six Apps to Help You Shop Your Conscience
For all the distraction they are blamed for, smartphones have done a lot to make our lives easier, from simple tasks like checking email and calculating tips to the more complex jobs of directing us to destinations or helping us find the best restaurant.
But can our phones make the world a better place? Well, no, not by themselves, but they can help us make it a better place by giving us more information at our fingertips about the products and services we buy than we’ve ever had access to before.
Below are six smartphone apps that will help you make better decisions about the products you buy, based on how the product was created, by whom, and how it was delivered to a store.
GoodGuide is an extremely easy to use app that helps get background on who’s behind the products you’re buying while you’re shopping. Just hold up that can of peas, scan the barcode, and voila – you are presented with a set of scores rating the company on categories such as health, the environment, and society. Along with that, you’ll get an explanation of what the scores mean within their rating system, alternative products that may score higher, and even other products manufactured by that some company. GoodGuide boasts an index of over 170,00 products that is being constantly updated.
Fair Trade Finder
In town for a few days and aren’t sure where to go to buy fair trade products? Then you probably need to look into Fair Trade Finder. It’s a crowd-sourced app that allows you to search for retailers who specialize in fair trade merchandise as well as specific products. Conversely, it’s a great app to help get the word out about stores that other people may not have found on their own. As with any crowd-sourced app, the more people that use it, the better it’s going to be.
Made in a Free World
There are times when we would prefer to believe that we live in a world free of forced labor and inhuman working conditions, but the reality is that it is much more common than most of us realize. Made in a Free World is a product that gives you information about labor practices in a product’s manufacture and supply chain, and allows you to express your concerns to the manufacturers by telling them you would be willing to pay more for the product if it were made with fair labor practices.
HarvestMark Food Traceability
A lot of us are concerned about the use of pesticides and genetically modified foods and would like to avoid buying them, but it’s not obvious at the grocery store what’s organic and what’s not. HarvestMark aims to help you with that, allowing you to scan the codes on fruit and vegetables and letting you know if it’s organic, where it was grown, and even if there’s been a recall.
Making of Making Powered by NIKE MSI
What does it take to make the materials that your clothes are made out of? You and I may not know, but a major manufacturer like NIKE certainly does, and they’ve chosen to share this information with the public via their Making of Making app. Using the app, you are able to compare and contrast dozens of types of material used in clothing, shoes, etc., based on chemistry, energy/greenhouse gases produced, water/land use, and waste involved in the manufacturing process.
It’s hard to think of fair trade products without thinking about coffee, and for a lot of us, it’s hard to think about anything until we’ve had our coffee, so where can you go to get some fair trade coffee? Coffee Guru has you covered. With listings for over 7,000 independent coffee houses in North America and the British Isles, helps you find a good brew made from fair trade beans right around the corner or even near your hotel when you’re traveling abroad.
We all know that the best way to influence the way corporations manufacture and distribute their products and produce is by directing how we spend our money, but with so many choices and so many stores, it’s not always easy to tell where to shop and what to buy when we get there. Fortunately, the technology is catching up with the needs of discerning shoppers and we have more information at our fingertips today than we have ever had access to before.
A cup of coffee or an organic apple isn’t going to change the world all by itself, but by being careful about what we buy, we can not only help influence major industries, but we can feel a lot better about our purchases and how they were made.
Garret Stembridge is part of the team at Extra Space Storage, a leading provider of self-storage facilities. Garret often writes about sustainable practices for homes and for businesses. Many Extra Space Storage locations, including several in Brooklyn, have been retrofitted to reduce energy consumption.