Use Buycott to Support Companies Which do Good

Most people are familiar with the concept of a boycott to punish companies who do negative things by not buying their goods or services. The opposite of that is a new app called Buycott which helps you buy from companies who you ideologically support.

I’ve been using the app for a couple days now and it’s rather interesting to see what some companies support. I’m already adjusting my purchases to stop buying from companies that do harm and instead start buying from companies that support positive things.

At the Buycott site they have this example usage of the mobile app:

Example: During the SOPA/PIPA debate in 2012, a number of companies pushed to pass legislation that reduced online freedom of expression, while other companies fought hard to oppose the legislation. With Buycott, a campaign can be quickly created around a cause, with the goal of targeting companies with a boycott unless they change their position, or buycotting a company to show your support.

The app is getting a lot of media coverage too!

Currently, the government doesn’t require that any GMO information be passed on to the consumer. Big food corporations want it to stay that way. Monsanto, for example, spends millions of dollars to keep GMO information off of packaging. How much? Buycott will tell you.

Importantly, and promisingly, users can join campaigns (both for and against) issues that they care about. The app keeps track of user input, making it easy to shop for products that don’t conflict with your beliefs. And this is what it is all about: knowing where your food comes from and where the dollars that buy it go.

Read more here.

Save the Environment, Live in a City

The IEEE Spectrum recently interview William Meyer who is the author of the book The Environmental Advantages of Cities: Countering Commonsense Antiurbanism. The book’s central thesis is that we need to change the discourse around cities from a negative one to a more positive conversation about the efficiencies of cities compared to lower density areas.

Steven Cherry: Good. Let’s go back to the list then. Cities are ravenous consumers of natural resources, true or false?

William Meyer: Okay, well, they are in an absolute sense, yes, and that’s the distinction between absolute and proportional impact. Cities do consume a lot of resources because there are lots of people there consuming, but the question is: If you had the same population, would it consume more resources if it lived in a less-urban settlement pattern? And the answer is no, because per capita, people in cities consume less. Cities are much more efficient in the consumption of resources, notably energy, but also materials, also water, and also, of course, land, because of their higher densities. So it’s true that they are large consumers, but the people who live in them are not, and, again, if we had a less-urban settlement pattern, we’d have more resource consumption.

Read more at IEEE Spectrum.

Brazil Restructures Debt With African Countries

Brazil has announced that they will essentially “write off” about $90 million in debt from African nations. This is for helping the countries alleviate their huge levels of debt while helping create stronger economic ties between Brazil and their indebted partner nations.

“To maintain a special relationship with Africa is strategic for Brazil’s foreign policy.”

He added that most of the debt was accumulated in the 1970s and had been renegotiated before.

A spokesman for Brazil’s Foreign Ministry told Efe news agency that the debt restructuring for some countries would consist of more favourable interest rates and longer repayment terms.

Congo-Brazzaville owes the most to Brazil – $352m – followed by Tanzania ($237m) and Zambia ($113.4m).

The other countries to benefit are Ivory Coast, Gabon, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Mauritania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, and Sudan.

Read more at BBC.

3D Printing for Peace

3D printing got a lot of attention recently because an American organization found a way to print a handgun. A direct reaction to that has been to launch a contest to promote the true potential of 3D printing by having a contest which encourages people to create designs that better the world.

It’s obvious that 3D printing isn’t inherently evil and that it can really shake up a lot of existing industries. Just think about printing your own replace parts for objects in your home or even printing food. Last year I put up a short primer on 3D printing on my game design blog.

The contest is being run by Michigan Tech and this is what the contest is looking for:

  • low-cost medical devices
  • tools to help pull people out of poverty
  • designs that can reduce racial conflict
  • objects to improve energy efficiency or renewable energy sources to reduce wars over oil
  • tools that would reduce military conflict and spending while making us all safer and more secure
  • things that boost sustainable economic development (e.g. designs for appropriate technology in the developing world to reduce scarcity)

Find out more at Michigan Tech.

Triple Bottom Line Companies on the Rise, Propose New Corporation Classification

A triple bottom line corporation is one that watches closely not only profitability but also it’s sustainability. Triple bottom line companies are on the rise not only in performance but also in popularity as more people realize the fragility of the planet and the lack of attention we give it.

Triple bottom line companies give equally weighting to environmental goals and economic goals which can make the company more profitable, but some companies may take a competitive hit. For those companies, a group in the USA is fighting for a new type of corporation known as a “benefit corporation”.

Proponents of this new corporate form say it essentially bakes a triple bottom line into a company’s DNA that frees companies from the fear of shareholder lawsuits if their decisions fail to maximize shareholder value because of some competing interest of other stakeholders, such as workers. Under current corporate case law in the United States, for example, corporate directors are generally assumed to be liable in such suits. Incorporation as a benefit corporation is intended to establish the directors’ fiduciary responsibility to consider the interests of all stakeholders. Formalizing a company’s social and environmental purposes under a legal framework also makes it more likely that its good intentions will survive the departure of its founders or any major spurts of growth and that its directors will have the legal backbone to fend off buyout offers from conventional corporations that do not have the same commitments.

Most benefit corporations to date are either small or medium-sized businesses. But they include a few larger companies that are privately held, such as the outdoor apparel and accessory firm Patagonia Inc., which reportedly had annual sales of about $540 million for the year ending April 2012, and King Arthur Flour, an employee-owned, 223-year-old company with reported sales of about $84 million in 2010.

Read more at Worldwatch.

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