Human rights? There’s an application for that. Launched in May 2013, the free application called ‘Buycott’ is revolutionizing the way social justice is approached by providing consumers with a detailed background into company ethics before making a purchase. Now 10th in the App Store, advocacy is trending with the use of popular technology.

After one scans the barcode, Buycott will trace the product or brand’s owning company and crosscheck it for ethical injustices within a matter of seconds. To make it easier to organize the user’s philanthropic goals, the application enables searches around specific personal conflicts such as human trafficking, labor rights, genetically modified organism labeling, animal welfare and more.

Even more impressively, it encourages grassroots political activism. Users can freely create their own campaigns, which are then incorporated in searches throughout the application and available for others to join. By combining a goal with a problematic company to target, anyone with a Smartphone can inform the world of which products should be avoided.

Many of the popular campaigns today demand opposition to major companies such as Monsanto, Koch Industries, Coca-Cola or Johnson & Johnson. Buycott also has a large presence of positive campaigns, in support of socially conscious companies. For example, Starbucks Coffee Beans made an early appearance on the application for its political support of marriage equality and for its fair trade initiatives.

Sadly, today’s global economy often functions off inhumane sweatshop labor to put cheap products on the shelves of wealthy nations. Sweatshops are known for their poor working conditions, unfair wages, lack of benefits, unreasonable hours and physical abuse. It is estimated that several hundred millions individuals worldwide, mostly women and children, are currently working for wages as low as 13 cents per hour.

Although they are present everywhere, sweatshops are more prevalent in developing nations, such as those in Southeast Asia and Central America, due to an absence of unions and labor laws. Some items most commonly produced through the sweatshop abuses of human rights are shoes, clothing, toys, chocolate, coffee, rugs and bananas.

Sweatshop labor and economically unjust institutions make it next to impossible for surrounding communities to rise out of a state of poverty. They are not truthfully increasing the number of jobs available for local people because the wages earned are too minuscule to provide a family with financial stability. Additionally, they are contrary to more beneficial, sustainable development efforts, stalling any real economic advancement.

Boycotting, or ‘Buycotting’ products manufactured under these contexts supports the broader fight against global poverty, by confronting companies with the injustices they promote and the demand for changed business practices.

 – Stefanie Doucette

Sources: Forbes, ABC News, Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, PBS, Buycott
Photo: Sydney Morning Herald