Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Buy It Like You Mean It

Clay Ward from Buy It Like You Mean It sent along this guest blog post: ( Thanks, Clay...we love what you're doing!)

We are ready for a more personal civic engagement than has ever before been possible. We buy organic more than any other generation has and we are starting to buy local. We collaborate with strangers to make software, music, and wikipedia and we share the results freely. If we have not been present at protests or meetings, it is because we have been waiting for a more efficient, personal, and virtually supported civic engagement. In Buy It Like You Mean It we have created just such a tool for real systemic change that responds to and empowers the specific concerns of its users.

The daily process of spending money is the most fundamentally untapped means for individuals in our culture to act on their values. As socially responsible spending carves out newly profitable market shares, advertising is now more "green" than the products it promotes. Convenient access to centralized, trusted, and customized information will be required before consumers can realize the potential for civic engagement that the free market has only promised. Buy It Like You Mean It is beginning to provide that access in a user-centered format.

Buy It Like You Mean It now enables us to collaboratively describe the real world impacts of consumer products. We are starting by focusing on the chocolate industry, reviewing and rate the performance of the manufacturers, packagers, shippers, and retailers that produce chocolate products. Each company's performance is further broken down so that reviews are linked to consumer interest categories like climate change contribution, human rights, or free market policies.

Soon shoppers will be able to send us text messages and emails containing a chocolate product's bar code. Our system will use the stated interests of the shopper to assign the product a score between 1 (very bad) to 9 (very good). Within seconds the shoppers will receive a reply listing the product's score and a list of suggested alternatives.

In this way we hope to:

1. Allow consumers to buy products that support their own unique values.

2. Assist companies in tracking the practices and reputations of links in their supply chain.

3. Reward positive incremental change as companies experiment with socially responsible product lines and subsidiaries.

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