The debate on changing consumption behaviour has become ever more animated. Most notably, heightened awareness on climate change has made it increasingly evident that major changes to our carbon footprint require more fundamental changes in the way we consume. Few would disagree that we need to move towards more sustainable consumption patterns, but most of us are not exactly sure who really needs to change, by how much, and how. In recent years though a number of online tools and indices have been launched which help us to track how our consumption choices impact on the environment, and how we can improve our decisions. Take Zerofootprint. It provides a free online tool for people to measure and manage their carbon footprint that is especially targeted at young people and schools. Or National Geographic, which provides a free online tool for consumers to measure their broader environmental impact with its Greendex system, developed in collaboration with Globescan, the international polling firm. The Greendex project also provides a rating of consumers across 18 different countries that illustrates which countries have the most environmentally responsible consumers. In the 2014 results, for example, the top three rated countries were India, China, and South Korea while bottom of the list were Japan, Canada and America. Most tracking tools also include advice and guidance on how to improve your consumption practices. The footprint calculator of WWF, for instance, provides the user with an idea how many planets would be needed if everybody had the same lifestyle as them and then offers them the chance to sign up to the Footprint Challenge to reduce their impact. Similarly, Slavery Footprint, which allows users to calculate, based on basic consumption data, how many slaves currently work for them around the world invites users to take action through the associated online Action Center and Free World mobile apps. These developments are part of a broader move to provide new tools for consumers on the go to make more informed sustainability decisions. For instance, Social Impact App uses the current location of a consumer and provides a customized list of the closest fair trade coffee shops, B Corps and other sustainable consumption outlets. Choco-locate does the same by finding the closest fair trade chocolate shop. Services such as ThisFish enable consumers to track where each fish in the store has come from, including who it was caught by and where, simply by keying in a code on their smartphone. Likewise Ethical Bean, one of Canada’s first B Corps, provides an app that scans the QR code on its coffee bags and then provides the consumer with detailed information about where the coffee was grown and who picked it, and cupping, scoring, and roasting information. Increasingly companies are being offered tracking services to enhance their sustainability impact. Zerofootprint, for example, has commercialized tracking software for businesses eager to track and incentivize more sustainable decisions among employees and consumers. Similarly, the makers of the Slavery Footprint app, Made In A Free World, market software to businesses to help them assess and manage the risks of forced labour in their supply chains.


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