More and more of us want to make ethical choices when we shop, but it isn’t always simple – what if a product is fair-trade but wrapped in plastic packaging? And how about the carbon footprint of driving around to choose the most planet-friendly options?
Now some exciting new apps are enabling shoppers to put their money where their principles are.
1. Eco Buddy
We’re used to using apps to track our steps, calories and even sleep, but how about our daily environmental impact?
Eco Buddy enables you to calculate the carbon emissions from the food you choose and your use of transport. You can view your emissions history and also receive daily tips on how to improve your carbon footprint.
2. Good On You
Free app Good On You helps you to align your purchasing decisions with your ethical principles.
Storing data for more than 2,000 brands, you simply type in the name of a brand, or a type of garment, and instantly see a rating out of five along with a summary of just how ethical the company is.
Brands are ranked in areas including ‘people’ (workers across the supply chain), ‘the planet’ (use of resources and energy, carbon emissions, impact on water and waste disposal), and ‘animals’ (use of fur, angora, shearling, leather and exotic skins).
Information is gathered from brands’ own reported data, certification schemes (including Fair Trade and Global Organic Textile Standard), and investigations by NGOs such as Greenpeace to produce the rankings.
Giki assesses a product’s sustainability, health and fairness credentials by awarding it up to 12 ‘badges’: organic, recyclable packaging, local (UK made), low carbon footprint, responsibly sourced, no chemicals of concern, free from additives, healthier, animal welfare, no animal testing, greener cosmetics and kinder cleaning.
Users scan a product’s barcode to get its ratings in each category. Where a product scores poorly, alternatives are suggested.
There are more than 250,000 products on the app, both branded goods and own-brand labels from mainstream supermarkets including Waitrose, Co-op, Asda and Sainsbury’s.
Pack information, government guidelines and scientific research are added to a database which algorithmically scores product against all the badge options.
Buycott is a barcode-scanning app that allows socially conscious users to find out what the product maker’s politics and ethical values are. They are then given the option to tweet, call or e-mail the companies and tell them why they’re not buying.
Created by 26-year-old LA developer Ivan Pardo, Buycott provides users with details including a company’s ownership, country of origin and any history of unethical behaviour. It allows you to avoid indirectly giving money to companies you find objectionable.
5. Too Good to Go
Too Good to Go aims to tackle the issue of the tonnes of food wasted by cafes and restaurants every year.
On it, you can find food establishments advertising food that would otherwise be thrown away to buy at very cheap prices. So far, over seven million meals have been saved from landfill.
6. Tree Planet 2
This gaming app turns virtual trees into real ones. The aim of the game is to grow a virtual tree. Users need to fertilise, water and defend the tree from loggers.
While you are virtually growing a tree, a real life tree is also being planted and tended to. The Korean company behind Tree Planet 2 says it has planted 500,000 real trees in 10 different countries.
Buying sustainable clothes
In this fast-fashion era, shopping for eco-friendly clothes isn’t easy, and it’s complicated when you don’t know what fabrics you should be looking for. This beginners guide to sustainable fabrics by eco-specialists beeco will help you understand just how sustainable the most common clothing fabrics are, taking into account the entire life cycle of the garment.
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