By Elina Mark (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons from Wikimedia Commons

Be a proactive consumer!

Posted on 24 September 2014.

If you find yourself among the aisles in a store hesitating between your favorite brand and products that claim to be equivalent, these are the apps for you!

You have made a resolution to be a more responsible consumer and adopt a healthy, environmentally friendly diet. So you decide to buy more fair trade and organic produce, eat fruit and vegetables in season and look at where the meat and fish you eat comes from. Except that once among the grocery store shelves you're more than a little confused by the variety of ethical labels.

We have chosen five apps that tell you what you won’t find on the labels and will help you make an informed decision.

Buycott (World)

Unlike a boycott, "buycott" doesn’t mean avoiding a product as a protest, but consciously buying more environmentally friendly and fair products to "reward" the brand. This form of consumer action now has its own application known as Buycott! You join any campaigns close to your heart, and scan the product’s barcode with a smartphone to find out everything about it - from the manufacturing process to the parent company and whether it conflicts with your principles.

- Buycott (available in English, French, Russian and Ukrainian)

GoodGuide (USA)

The GoodGuide app contains over 200,000 product references and gives them a score of 1 to 10 depending on their environmental, societal and health impacts. To rate a product, just look through the categories or scan the barcode. The rating and information about nutritional value, energy consumption, etc. is displayed. GoodGuide’s methodology and how it gets its data is explained in detail on its website. On the same principle but only covering environmentally friendly products, Ecocompare (France) measures just how environmentally responsible products really are.

- GoodGuide (available in English)
- Ecocompare (available in French)

Planet Ocean & Seafood Watch (World)

As part of its Ocean program, the Good Planet Foundation developed the "Planet Ocean" app which informs consumers about endangered marine species. The app lists 100 species of fish and shellfish according to their origins and fishing techniques so that consumers can identify sustainably managed species. Fish are classified in three categories: "preferred", "in moderation", "avoid". The Seafood Watch app is older and offers the option of finding and sharing the location of stores and restaurants offering fish from sustainable sources.

- Planet Ocean (available in English and French)
- Seafood Watch (available in English and French)

Seasons, Locavore & Farmstand

There are a multitude of apps available in Europe and North America that give information about the fruit and vegetables in season and the markets selling local produce in your area. Seasons makes shopping list suggestions for seasonal products. And yes! Ideally, oranges should be eaten in winter and raspberries are cheaper and much tastier from June to September. Locavore even tells you how to prepare your fresh produce. More fun and community-based, the social app Farmstand lets you share photos, make comments and promote your local market and favorite producers.

- Seasons (paid - USA, UK, Canada, Europe - available in English, French, German and Spanish)
- Locavore (USA – available in English)
- Farmstand (USA, Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand – available in English)

Making (World)

Originally developed by Nike, this app was originally intended for designers and stylists to help them choose the materials they use in their creations. But any consumer can use it. Very visual, Making classifies and compares the materials used in clothing or shoes on the basis of their environmental impact in four areas: water, chemicals, energy, waste. All the data come from the Materials Sustainability Index (MSI), a database published by Nike.

- Making (in English)