Ethical Shopping Advice on Your Phone

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When Thomas Edison’s invention, the carbon grain transmitter, was first conceived, he probably had very little idea of how far and fast telephones would develop. Although, if this Thomas Edison quote is anything to go by, “We don’t know a millionth of one percent about anything.” he perhaps wouldn’t be surprised.

The iphone has taken the world by storm and has spawned a countless number of apps for every occasion. The latest app for the iphone is an ethical shopping app. This great new app allows consumers, who care about where and how goods are made, to easily compare products and make an informed choice to buy the most ethical brands.

For those of us who are keen to purchase fair-trade and organic products, it can sometimes be difficult to choose between the brands. Often, such information is not readily available. And it certainly is not easy to access while in the supermarket. Therefore, there is a clear demand for this kind of service. As Andy Atkins of Friends of the Earth claims, “…more and more people want products and services that don’t trash the planet – but don’t have much time to investigate the best options themselves.”

The information presented in this app is from The Ethical Company Organization’s Good Shopping Guide. This best-selling book aims to cut through, what it terms, “corporate greenwash” and allow consumers to make informed shopping choices. Unfortunately, helpful as the Good Shopping Guide is, it’s a 350-page tome, which is not exactly handy for shoppers. As the director of the Ethical Company Organization, William Sankey, points out, “Our readers asked us to develop a comprehensive comparison tool they could take into the shops.”

The Good Shopping Guide app contains over 700 household brands, which are organized into seven categories, including health and beauty; food and drink (like oreo brownies); and travel and energy. Each brand is ranked according to 72 product-specific league tables.

Moreover, the app contains a summary table, which lists brands in relation to their green credentials, human rights record and practices that may impact animal welfare. This information is tallied to provide an overall “ethical rating”, which enables a consumer to quickly identify the best and worst performing brands.

This, of course, follows hot on the heels of ‘Barcoo’, which was released last year. Barcoo allows shoppers to scan the barcode of many products and receive information about how green the company is or how it treats its employees. However, unlike Barcco, the Good Shopping Guide does not use barcode technology, because the developers felt it allowed smaller and immerging companies to go unnoticed.

Users of the app may be surprised by some of the results. For example, it is often thought that fair-trade and ethical products come at a greater expense to the consumer. However, this is not always the case. Beko, for instance, which makes some of the cheapest fridges on the market, also has a high ethical rating. Conversely, soho fashion shoppers may be surprised to learn that popularity is no indicator of high ethical ranking.

The app is now available for iphone, ipod touch and ipad users. 10% of the revenue from sales of the app are being donated to Friends of the Earth.

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