Five apps to help you shop ethically

Tools to help you make more informed choices when you shop.

As consumers, making responsible choices is increasingly important.

We would all rather buy products that are free from harmful chemicals, that haven’t been tested on animals and that are made by workers who have not been exploited and underpaid.

It can be very confusing though - which brands are ethical and what exactly does ‘ethical’ even mean?

Fortunately, the following apps are making it easier for shoppers to make informed choices.  

Shop Ethical!

This app explains the environmental and social records of companies behind supermarket brands that are available in Australia.

It is regularly updated with new, accurate information and works in conjunction with organisations such as Greenpeace, the World Wildlife Foundation and Friends of the Earth.

You can search for thousands of products on the Shop Ethical! app.

All you have to do is scan the barcode while you’re shopping to find information including the use of resources in packaging, the production process and the sourcing of ingredients.

The app was updated in early 2016 to include clothing and electronics as well as household products.

Cost: $5.99 (or $12 for the printed guide)

Download for iPhone here.

Download for Android here

Website: http://www.ethical.org.au/ 

Good on You - Ethical Fashion App

Photo courtesy: Good On You.

Cheap clothes lose their appeal when you realise that someone is being paid the equivalent of $2 a day to make them.

The Good On You App lets you search by brand, store or product and gives each brand a rating based on how they treat people, animals and the planet.

The ‘score’ is explained, with the app detailing where each brand sources its products and how transparent they are about their production and labour process.

Good On You suggests alternative stores to shop at and also lets you communicate directly with brands as a way of encouraging positive change.

Cost: Free

Download for iPhone here.

Download for Android here.

Website: http://goodonyou.org.au/

Sustainable Seafood

Photo: iStock.

Seafood is one of the biggest ethical minefields. In general, you should look for fish that is farmed with minimal environmental impact, that hasn’t been exposed to pollutants and potentially harmful chemicals.

The Sustainable Seafood app uses a traffic light system, labelling fish as ‘Better’, ‘Eat Less’ and ‘No’.

For example, wild caught salmon gets the green light as current stocks are healthy and the fishing methods are thought to have minimal impact on threatened species.

Wild Caught Scallops are given the thumbs down by this app due to variability in population numbers and concern over the dredging of the scallops’ habitat. 

Cost: Free

Download for iPhone here.

Download for Android here.

Website: http://www.sustainableseafood.org.au/

Ever stop to wonder how ethical your toothpaste is?

Choose Cruelty Free is an Australian not-for-profit organisation that takes a stand against the testing of cosmetic and household cleaning products on animals.

Download this free app to find out which fragrances, deodorants, hair care, gardening and makeup products are accredited as cruelty free.

It also labels some products as vegan and vegetarian friendly and notes if products pass standards on animal testing but still contain animal ingredients.

Choose Cruelty Free only promotes the ‘good eggs’ instead of naming and shaming the companies that do test on animals. It is updated with the latest information twice a year and has helpful links to each company’s website. 

Cost: Free

Download for iPhone here.

Download for Android here.

Website: http://www.choosecrueltyfree.org.au/

POI Palm Oil Barcode Scanner

It’s not Palm Oil that is the problem, but the deforestation of land that provides the natural habitat for many endangered species (including the orangutan in Borneo) in order to produce it.

The POI app lets you scan barcodes to see if a product contains ethically sourced palm oil.

The aim of the Palm Oil Investigations company behind the app is not to stop the use of Palm Oil, but to regulate the industry and to help shoppers make decisions that are better for the environment.  

Download for iPhone here.

Download for Android here.

Website: http://www.palmoilinvestigations.org/

The more ethically we shop, the stronger the message we send to manufacturers that are dragging the chain on sustainable practices.

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