Say what you’d like about Millennials. We’re entitled, lazy, sensitive- the list goes on. But one stereotype about my age group that I can get on board with is that we have a social conscience. I can’t speak for everybody, but more and more people I encounter seem to be questioning the ethics behind their day to day choices and purchases. We’re bringing our own coffee cups to Starbucks, our own bags to the grocery store, and we’re asking questions when it comes to the products we spend our hard earned dollars on. I used to make impulse decisions all of the time when shopping, but instead I now try my best to thoughtfully research and source out products that I’m proud to own. But… this research can get overwhelming once you delve deep into a black hole of info on the interwebs, so sourcing out brands we can trust can take a bit of time.
One of the first things I can recommend for cutting through this info clutter is to look to people who you trust and admire for transparent advice, or use technology to your advantage by trying out some of the apps below.
I literally pop this app open whenever I’m in a store now, and it’s stopped me from buying some body products that I thought were natural and good for me. All you have to do is scan the barcode of the product you’re looking at, and the app will generate a ton of info for you to peruse. It’ll tell you what’s in it, what those ingredients actually mean, and how bad they truly are or aren’t for you. My favourite feature is that they give you an overall rating on the product, ten being the worst for you, and zero being the best. Once I got the app, I went a little crazy scanning all of the bottles I already had in my bathroom drawers, and was shocked at how bad some of them were. All I can say is I won’t be shopping at the Body Shop or buying St. Ives anymore.
This app is similar to Think Dirty in that it helps you point your moral compass according to the cold hard facts about products, but it’s for clothing instead. I’ve been trying very hard firstly to buy less, and not to buy anything from Fast Fashion stores anymore (think H&M and Zara), but there’s a lot of retailers that kind of fall into a grey area. Good On You gives each store a rating out of 5, and let’s you read some unbiased details about how they stack up according to labour, environmental, and animal cruelty related ethics. I really wanted a pair of Levi jeans and felt okay about the purchase since they got 4 out of 5 stars. Basically, they could be doing better, but they are making an effort to put responsible measures in place so I went for it. Forever 21 on the other hand only has 2 out of 5 stars, a category they call “not good enough”.
Of course you shouldn’t follow either of these apps like a mindless drone, but I like them as a starting point to help us consumers figure out where we can shop responsibly. If you have any methods/favourite apps that help you with this, I’d love to hear about them!