There is a major gap in the assumption that market production is a mirror of consumer demand.
It’s not, because the mirror is dirty. It’s a problem of transparency.
Yes, people buy what they want, but complicated corporate system has conglomerate-this and subsidiary-that producing things with undisclosed ingredients, and money flowing around mysteriously between industry and politics to support things that, well, most of us don’t want to support.
In general, we all want the same basic things: food, water, shelter, community, love, work, safety — basic human rights. If a large portion of the population could consistently make purchases of and only of products made by companies who cultivate these simple but important values, they would prune the market accordingly. That’s capitalism. Our intent matters. Your intent matters.
But it’s not enough.
You don’t have time to research which companies produce which products, where they put their money, how they produce their products, or how they’re treating our planet. I don’t blame you. It’s intentionally complicated.
That’s where design comes in.
Last week I happened to read a blurb about a new app called Buycott. After a quick glance at how it works (followed later by an excitedly extensive one), I immediately made an account. It could change the social and environmental conscience of industry and politics. Seriously.
Here’s how it works. You download the app to your smartphone. You scan a product with your smartphone. The app tells you whether or not that product is produced by a company that shares your values. If it is, you buy it. If not, you don’t. Your money only goes to companies that support your values. You just shaped the market.
Let’s say you want to support local farmers, B Corporations, and triple-bottom-line businesses in general (those that account for not only profit, but also people, and planet). Also, you don’t want to support corporations that invest in and lobby for the fossil fuel industry, nor do you want to support companies that genetically modify food and patent fruit and vegetable genomes. That sounds complicated, but voting every day with where you choose to spend your dollars is not: simply click to join those campaigns (on a computer at Buycott.com or within the app on an Apple or Android device), scan products, and purchase accordingly. Brilliantly simple and simply brilliant.
Capitalism, you’ve given us some great things and some not-so-great things. Your new friends — Intent, brought to you by the good intentions of the people, and Design, brought to you by the transparency and simplicity of Buycott — they’re really going to take you places.
And we’re all excited to see what you can do.
Check out our campaign on Buycott.com to purchase from B Corporations — companies that must meet rigorous social and environmental standards. It has over 1000 members and counting, so come join the party.
Please note: Buycott is still being developed. While they are functional, both the website and app are still undergoing construction. If you have any issues with bugs or slowness, please be patient as Buycott’s developers continue to refine a brilliant tool.