App of the Week – Buycott

As the lead-in on the Buycott app company landing page says,

“Have you ever wondered whether the money you spend ends up funding causes you oppose?”

Consumer-side market research has come of age with the Buycott app that allows you to find out who owns the product you are thinking of buying.

Buycott campaign screen capture

iPhone Screen Capture of one of the campaigns you can support (see the check mark in the green “Joined Campaign” button) so that if you scan a bar code of an item and if it is known to contain Monsanto or Genetically Modified Organisms in the manufacturing process, you can avoid buying that item. There are many campaigns you may join such as avoiding Koch Brother owned corporation products.

I may be an oddity, or just a prematurely early adopter, but somewhere, in some old box of books, I have a well-thumbed copy of a paperback from the 1970s that I used to find out who owns what (and I guess I should say whom in these days of corporate personhood)  I confess I cannot remember the exact title.

I guess this shows that I my concern about this stuff decades ago when Green Peace and other ocean and environmentally-oriented groups urged writing letters to fast food companies to let them know you were not eating at their restaurants until they quit sourcing from unethically harvested fish; and when we would sing ” N-E-S-T-L-E-S, Nestles kills the babies best” when we saw someone using a Nestle product because of the baby formula scandal.  Al Gore was not the only person who knew about this stuff in back in the dark  “pre-internet” ages.

The title of that book, that is in a box somewhere, was something to the effect of who owns whom a guide to corporate ownership.  It was not the standard library reference item that was also useful when figuring out whether to buy certain things.   You really had to go out of your way to get information about corporate ownership and subsidiaries.  But no more! You can still find far more detailed information if you do your research in libraries, but…you no longer only have that option.

Putting your money where your mouth is, literally, is now possible and easy by simply scanning bar codes of products with your smart phone.  Making informed choices is the cornerstone of voting in a democratic society and is also the cornerstone of a consumer-driven free market.

The Buycott App is available both from the App Store and Google Play.

Did I mention that:

  • the app is free
  • it seems to work well from my still rather limited testing of it
  • download and use of the app seems to work well ( now that the swamping of the app download software and site has been taken care of after the major press and acclaim Buycott received almost immediately upon launch)
  • you can add item information if you scan something that has incomplete information
  • not all bar code formats are as yet supported
  • you can share campaigns (scores of ’em) through Facebook and Twitter buttons from the campaign description areas
  • this is a Karma-only compensated review


Here are a couple other “find out who” tools, though they are not yet in app form, that I find to be really nifty to use – even though they are old-fashioned in their lack of device and format delivery options

Columbia Journalism Review online resource for finding  out about media ownership:

InvestorGuide Research Tool

It is no longer that difficult to shop in an informed fashion.  Don’t want to support sweatshops and child labor?  Don’t want to buy Frankenfood for your baby? Think the Koch brothers should stop interfering in the democratic process of U.S. elections?   Scan. Know. Buy or don’t buy.

And remember, “Information is power.”

People on the Way to Occupy D.C.

People from all over the country are heading to Washington,D.C. this week.  A bit further on Idiscuss meeting with three of them heading across country to Occupy DC.  October 6th marks the 10thanniversary of the invasion and occupation of Afghanistan.  Ten years ago we were mourning theattacks on New York City, the District of Columbia, and one attack that wasthwarted and became a crash site in Pennsylvania.  We had the world on our side, our country was more unitedthan we had been in decades, and our finances were in good shape.
10 years later the American people seem to be awakening toan understanding that they have been lied to, manipulated and bankrupted inorder to benefit the wealthy corporate and military interests that used anattack on U.S. soil to corrupt the democratic processes that regulatecapitalist maximization of profit at the expense of human needs. 
The unemployed, the outraged, the peaceful have put out andare responding to a call to gather together.   The Wall Street Occupation is getting the attentiontoday, the D.C. occupation will probably get the attention at the end of theweek.  The fact that I haven’theard discussed is that this is happening during the month after the 10 yearanniversary of our country was attacked and  the 10 year anniversary
During the evening of September 29th  I had the opportunity to talk to Xan,Peter, and Kevyn  as they camethrough Tucson on a caravan across the southern United States that was stoppingin as many places along the way as people want them to talk about the issues orto join in a vigil or protest, or join with the caravan and go to D.C. to jointhe Human Need Not Corporate Greed occupation  force there.
The three original caravan members, others may have joined along theway by now, are associated with peace groups, Xan and Kevyn identify withCodePINK, and Peter is a member of Veterans for Peace.
Their stay in Tucson included protest with the local peace and justicecommunity at weekly gathering in front of the Federal Building in downtownTucson at rush hour, a candlelight vigil for DRONE victims in front of thegates of Davis Monthan Air Force Base at sunset,  connection with another weekly vigil  for those migrants who die in thesurrounding desert nearly every week of the year in the northern reaches of theSonoran Desert.  Then with theTheater’s permission the lead Caravan Truck parked in front of the main theaterdoors with the with the side with the beautiful mural painted by Phoebe Ackley so that viewers of aprivately sponsored viewing of  The Future of Food organized by the Tucson GMO FreeGroup  could see thatindividuals from diverse groups have the same concerns and can spread amessage, have impact, and talk to caravan members about the overlapping goals and agendas of peace andsafe food groups. 
The concept of overlapping concerns and goals is a growing theme inU.S. civic action.  Talking heads,such as DylanRatigan on MSNBC today noted the amorphous nature of the reasons for theOccupy Wall Street actions in NYC that are spreading to other major citiesacross the United States.  The October 2011 web site that is theoverarching informational site about the occupation of Freedom Plaza in D.C.has a list of 15 Core Issuesof the Human Needs Not Corporate Greed actionsin D.C.
The events commencing October 6 in D.C. are focused on redirecting war,military and occupation funds back to support of human and environmentalneeds.  The pledge on the states,
“I pledge that if any U.S. troops, contractors,or mercenaries remain in Afghanistan on Thursday, October 6, 2011, as thatoccupation goes into its 11th year, I will commit to being in Freedom Plaza inWashington, D.C., with others on that day or the days immediately following,for as long as I can, with the intention of making it our Tahrir Square, Cairo,our Madison, Wisconsin, where we will NONVIOLENTLY resist the corporate machineby occupying Freedom Plaza to demand that America’s resources be invested inhuman needs and environmental protection instead of war and exploitation. Wecan do this together. We will be the beginning.”
People’s motivations and wellbeing, as well as the ideal of democracyare complex constructs and cannot be condensed into the well-packaged marketingsound bytes easily broadcast by our media that now functions as much from pressreleases as from investigative journalism.  If the media, even those very few media outlets that arecovering the Human Needs movement, does not understand what certainly seemslike parts of a mass movement reacting to corporate take over of governmentfunctions around the world, well perhaps they will have to revert to old fashionedjournalistic practice.
Today through Thursday of this week the CodePINK Caravan will travel throughShreveport, Louisiana – Jackson, Mississippi – Birmingham, Alabama, – Atlanta,Georgia – Charlotte and Henderson, North Carolina on the way to their arrivalin Freedom Plaza in D.C.  at 9 a.m.Thursday.  “ Thursday,” as theparticipants note, “is only the beginning.” 
Xan has kept a blog of her activities at CODEPINK Journals since2003.  She has made many crosscountry trips from her home in Berkeley to Washington, D.C. and wasinstrumental in getting the first on-going, long-term CODEPINK presence fromall over the U.S. established in D.C. in 2006 and again in 2007 which lead toover two years of constant action in the Halls of Congress by women who camefrom every part of the U.S. to stay for a week or a month and focus on actionspertinent to them and the areas of the country from which they came at The PinkHouse, a cooperatively run house near Capitol Hill. 
A core group of activists and groups have promoted various views of and solutions to themisuse of government. and the peoples wishes and funds,  over the last 10years.  Without them the current,extremely diverse 99 Percentmight not be able to move in synch in what now seems to be a an organic trajectoryrather than a single minded group.  Just like the Caravan built on already occurring events in the local community, what is building in the U.S. builds on years, and indeed years of awareness of the growth of greed. Thisis the stuff of which revolutions are made.  I think the people of the United States had their revolutionand now they want it back.  Democracyis powerful and it is far more than a memory to the American People. 
 I can provide contact information tointerested independent journalist bloggers who wish to request an interviewwith one or more of the caravan participants.