5 mobile apps to help us buy better

Photo Credit: Think Dirty

Mobile connectivity has increased our ability to make in-situ informed choices about many things. Through the Internet of Things, from Withings wifi scales to the up and coming Apple watch, our bodies and our actions are becoming evermore quantified and data ever more accessible – greater informing our in-situ choices. The environmental and ethical implications of our daily decisions are often hidden from us. Even as we continue to try and quantify ourselves, the planet and our things, is it possible for our decisions to be informed and calibrated to reflect our true values? We believe to do this the quantified repercussions of our choices must become transparent.

At Provenance we are looking at how our mobile and the Internet of Things can help us greater understand our material world. Our approach is an open data platform for pioneering product makers and brands to volunteer stories about the things they make and form a dialogue with customers about the origins and journey’s of the products they sell. We are a framework for transparency, but one that must be adopted by brands. Motivating many companies to address their practices and their attitude to sharing the inside of their company on the outside are a selection of mobile applications that are here to empower consumers.

So we’ve selected five mobile apps that shoppers can use to find out more about things in the supermarket – with various degrees of transparency attached.


Founded in 2007, GoodGuide was created as a resource to help shoppers uncover the health, environmental and social performance impacts of products and companies. They look at ingredients, health impacts, workers rights and more to provide a score from 1 to 10.

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Think Dirty

Think Dirty was created to question the beauty industry regarding the toxins in certain cosmetic products. Founder Lily Tse was on a mission to educate the public on just how harmful certain cosmetics and personal care products can be to the environment. Their app allows you to scan a barcode or search for a product and then look through all its ingredients, distinguishing between the most harmful and least.

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Moving more into the political sphere, Buycott allows you to monitor which products you buy and companies you support based on causes you support. You join causes and create a profile based on your own social and political beliefs, then search for products and companies to see if they have business practices that are in line with your views or not.

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OpenLabel encourages conscious consumption through crowdsourcing – allowing users to add their label and have their say about any product. The label can be made of any useful information such as health risks, environmental impact or the practices of the company that produces it.

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Started by two brothers with a passion for sustainable food, HowGood scores food products through a team of experts and researchers. They take into account ingredients, food and environmental policy, labor rights and food processing to help users easily identify the best sustainable food products.