Image of a person at a laptop with a credit card in hand, in an article about using apps for informed shopping

Become a More Informed Consumer With These 4 Apps

Being an informed shopper can be challenging, but these resources will help you consume in a more conscious way.
September 24, 2020
8 mins read

Shopping with brands that reflect your values shouldn’t be as hard as it actually is. So much of what goes on behind the scenes at a company is hidden. However, as consumers become more interested in how products are made, how employees are treated and what a company’s values are, more resources, websites and apps are becoming available that are shedding light on these practices.

Voting isn’t just at the polls. Everyday, people can vote with their wallets to tell businesses the change they want to see in the world. However, while many will say to not shop at certain companies, buy clothes made in horrible factory conditions or use beauty products tested on animals, there aren’t a lot of alternatives being thrown around in those conversations, either. Instead, consumers feel helpless, and they are ultimately forced back to these companies out of a need for their products and a lack of other options.

But there are other options. These resources, websites and apps are dedicated to creating a new generation of informed consumers, whether they care about environmental issues, political donations or truly cruelty-free beauty products.

Here are some great places to start so you can make sure your purchases support brands that are ethical, sustainable or support the political causes you believe in.

1. Good On You

Good On You helps you “wear the change you want to see” by rating brands on a five-point scale — ranging from “We Avoid” to “Great.” The scale is based on three factors: people, animals and the environment.

From worker safety and fair wages to carbon emissions and microfiber pollution to animal welfare and sourcing, Good On You researches each brand’s practices thoroughly, so you can have the full picture before shelling out any cash.

Their directory includes thousands of brands for you to search — by name or by product — before you shop. If you don’t see a brand, you can suggest it for a future addition. Good On You doesn’t stop there, though.


Their website and app are full of roundups and posts on any piece imaginable, along with comparisons, deep dives and anything else you need to know to be an informed consumer in the fashion industry.

2. Cruelty-Free Kitty

Many consumers lack the needed clarity on what brands out there are truly cruelty-free, but one website has made it easier to shop smarter. Cruelty-Free Kitty has compiled a database of brands that test on animals and those that don’t.

From beauty to personal care to household products, CFK and its founder are dedicated to researching and verifying a brand’s status so you know that the product you’re looking at was never tested on animals.

You can easily search a brand to get a better picture of their practices, learn more about what “cruelty-free” truly means or explore recommended safe brands that are going above and beyond the bare minimum.

While CFK isn’t available as an app, the website is extremely detailed, and their Instagram offers tons of additional news within the cruelty-free movement.


3. The Good Trade

Focused on sustainable and minimal lifestyles, The Good Trade’s website is the place to go for thoughtful blog posts on life, style and the environment. Their shopping guides give readers options for shopping fashion, home, beauty and lifestyle products from ethical brands all over the world. The guides also include information like where brands are based, any certifications they might have, their materials, prices and the editors’ recommendations.

In their blog posts, The Good Trade also offers advice on how to live a more minimal and eco-conscious life, so you can decrease your negative environmental impact. But if you do want to shop with brands that use recycled materials, give back in some way or empower their employees, The Good Trade can help you find the perfect brand or products you’re looking for.

4. Goods Unite Us

Goods Unite Us gives users insights into the brands they’re buying from and their political contributions. The database, which is available on their website and as an Apple and Android app, contains information on thousands of brands, like Starbucks, AT&T and Honda. Goods Unite Us also includes information on contributions from film production companies.

You can see a percentage breakdown of a brand’s contributions to Democratic and Republican political parties, specific politicians who received donations and how much of those donations are coming from the company itself or its senior executives.

The app also includes information on politicians and their recent funders, so you can know who is donating to your local officials and be more educated in your consumption.


There are thousands of resources, databases and apps out there to help you become a more informed and conscious consumer. Before you find the right apps or resources for you, figure out what your values are and what matters most to you.

If the brands you want to shop at don’t have clear information on their practices and products, they probably have something to hide, or those values aren’t important to them. There are brands that are transparent about their missions, practices, materials and products; it just might take a little digging to find the ones you feel truly deserve your money.

Being an informed consumer takes a lot of work, and it might seem too annoying. However, it’s clear that in the past, this lack of curiosity surrounding brands’ practices has led to a society where consumers don’t know or don’t care about who made their clothes, what their bag is made of or where and who their money is going to.

Look into brands and companies you want to support. Know what you’re supporting when you purchase from a company. Vote with your wallet to create a market and a society that you want to see — where accountability isn’t a rare thing, and doing good isn’t as difficult as it is now.

Use everything you can, including these apps, to find and lift up the brands that are working to make the world a better, cleaner and safer place.

Julia Greene, Columbia College Chicago

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Julia Greene

Columbia College Chicago
Multimedia Journalism, Magazine Concentration

Julia Greene is a magazine journalist from New England. When she’s not working, you can find her spending time in nature, making playlists or reading.

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