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Conscious Consumption Has Never Been Easier – Thanks to Smartphones
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Making the right purchases is tough. Choice is overwhelming, information limited. Make informed decisions and buy according to your values with these apps!
von Tijmen Stam [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

As our world becomes more complex, making sense of it all sometimes seems unmanageable. Everytime I read the news or look at social media, new issues pop up. What are we to do about Palm Oil, Monsanto, Child Labor and so on and on?
The more I learn about these issues, the more concerned I get. Waiting for politicians to do something doesn’t seem to be the right answer. I think about what can I do to make a difference?

Fortunately there are many of us out there who feel the same way and there are initiatives to make conscious consumption much easier. By using your smartphone camera you can check the barcode of products in the supermarket. You can easily get more information on products, producers and production practices and decide whether or not those are products you want to support. With the help of apps, we can match the our personal preferences to the products we use.

Vote with Your Wallet

My favorite app for this is buycott.com. On this platform you can find a large number of initiatives to support. They have options ranging GMO labeling, specific lobbyists, child labor policies to animal testing. The app is based on a database of large companies, their subsidiaries as well as campaign financing data.
You can decide what causes are dear to your heart and join these initiatives.
Next time you go shopping, scan the barcodes of some products to find out whether the companies match with your values. The app will trace the product back to the producing parent company and will cross reference it against all data within the data base related to your causes.

If the product does not match your values, you can look for alternative products that do. Initially this takes a bit of time and you should plan to shopping when you have time to check your products. However, once you have scanned through your regular shopping basket, you will feel much better about your choices.

Get the Details

With goodguide.com you can find out the details about food products you regularly buy or are thinking about buying. When you scan a product bar code with the good guide app, you get information about the ingredients as well as the company’s environmental and societal record. On a ten point grading scale each product gets rated and alternatives with higher ratings are shown right beside it. You can drill down and check out why a particular score was given. Further you can compare different brands and their nutritional values. Finally you can personalize the app according to your personal preferences, which makes comparison shopping that much easier.

Both of these apps are fairly new and packed with lots of information. At first this can be overwhelming but it gets easier quickly. I believe this is a great start to become a better consumer and with time this will become much more powerful.

How do you find information on the things you buy? Do you have any special guides to improve your consumption behavior?