eLabel technology empowering consumers

Submitted by ConsciousBabe on Mon, 2011-12-12 14:17

At last! A phone app that will help consumers spend money on products they agree with.

'e' is for ethical electronics'e' is for ethical electronics

Voltaire said ‘never underestimate the power of the vigilante consumer' and I also believe that our spending power is something to be taken seriously. Ultimately, everyone is a consumer in some way or other and businesses have a nasty habit of misleading us sometimes.

‘What is the effect of our purchases?’ asks Eitan, project manager of the eLabel team, staunch believers in business transparency and public access to information.

If you are anything like me, you are sooo over greenwashing scams and may have become a little jaded about everything it says on the box. But it’s because we can’t spend forever doing our own product research that makes eLabel such a compelling technology.

Checkout the website!Checkout the website!

The idea is simple. You as the consumer can either use the website or scan the barcode of the product you're interested in using the eLabel smartphone application, and voila! tons of information at your fingertips. The page that comes up will offer you a number of independent, third-party opinions from consumers and experts alike about the product.

‘We’re a consumer-driven campaign,’ says Eitan. Consumer Rights is an emerging discourse and eLabel aims to be a platform that can facilitate input from everyone. Many Cape Townians already know so much about local products and our website is an opportunity to share that knowledge with other consumers.’

Products under scutinyProducts under scutiny

Part social network, part online product-encyclopaedia, eLabel technology hopes to appease to a variety of consumer interests. At the moment categories include things like ‘biodiversity’, ‘carbon footprint’, ‘water footprint’, ‘packaging and waste’, ‘sustainability, ‘social justice’, ‘marketing integrity’ and ‘animal treatment’ but ultimately there is no limit to the number of categories that can be added.

Concerned Consumers is the name behind most of the large-scale research for the site, but they are not alone. A lot of other local organisations have become involved and eLabel have even had offers for food lab testing.

Eitan doing his thangEitan doing his thang

This movement started off as many different organisations including Activist – the guys who, along with urban sprout and filmmaker/ consumer activist Wendy Hardie, brought us the top 2009 story - ‘Woolies bad egg’. They recently consolidated as the NGO Concerned Consumer in response to the new Consumer Protection Act.

‘I think people want to make the right choices but don’t know how or why,’ says Mark, the art director of this new social enterprise initiative.

The team (from left): Megan, Muriel, Eitan, Helen and NicThe team (from left): Megan, Muriel, Eitan, Helen and Nic

The team behind eLabel is made up of six sexy whizz-kids situated in an office in Plumstead quietly keeping tabs on local businesses, investigating into products, busting green-washing and giving credit where it’s due.

At the moment eLabel reviews retail products but as this enterprise grows it will include business reviews as well.

‘We know some people wont like what we do, but we are not scared,’ says Eitan. ‘We are protecting the consumer here.’

Check out the eLabel website here