I was shopping online one day when I thought to myself, “I wish I could know which products were more ethically produced than others”, and that’s when the idea of Ethicli was born. Ethicli is a browser extension that scores online shops and products based on the ethics of their business practices. I realized it is too hard for one person to track all the ethical decisions of every company. But I thought this kind of tool would be super useful not only for myself, but for the millions of people like me who want to support ethical companies. Together, our shopping has a massive amount of power. Billions of dollars are donated to charities every year, but trillions are spent purchasing products. If those trillions of dollars shift towards more ethical companies, then all companies will work to be more ethical.
So what did I do with this idea? …Nothing. I thought about it, dreamed about it, told my family about how cool it would be if it was real. I thought about it for months and wondered if I would ever actually work up the courage to get someone to work on it with me.
That’s when Linda came in. I met Linda a couple years ago at a hackathon and knew she was an amazing designer and front end web developer who cared a lot about social good. I wanted her to work on the project but was too afraid to ask. Then I saw her post on LinkedIn about a chrome extension project she worked on, and I decided to ask her about it. An hour later I had my first co-founder! Woohoo! Now that Linda was on board, the idea wasn’t just an idea anymore. It was becoming a reality.
I knew I wanted another programmer on the team, because I already knew that the challenges of designing and building the algorithms would be hard. So I started asking Cosmo, whom I knew from college, about where they want their career to go, and what they are passionate about. By the end I told Cosmo about my idea, and they were super interested. Hurray! One more smart and good-natured piece of the puzzle.
I needed one more piece though. I knew I needed someone to decide what are and what are not “ethical business practices”, and it couldn’t be me for sake of being objective. I was struggling for weeks to find someone who I thought could fill this role. But then the night before our first meeting I remembered Amy, whom I had met a couple years prior. I remembered that she was studying environmentally related work and has a huge passion for ethical practices. She was super interested and excited about working on the project. Yes!! The last piece of the puzzle fell into place at the last minute, and she was an absolutely perfect fit. We were all so excited. We had our first meeting and then got to work.
Now it has been four weeks since that first meeting and we just launched the beta version of our extension! You can sign up to beta test it here. We still have a long way to go, and the path we take will be influenced by our beta testers. So if you want to contribute to Ethicli, beta testing is the way to do it!
So far we have incorporated two sources of data: B Corporation and BlueSign — and are going to be adding more sources as time goes on. The data provided from these two organizations is used to produce an overall score and to display badges to indicate when a company is certified by either of these organizations.
We are planning on adding alternative product suggestions, so you can easily find more ethical alternatives for the products you’re shopping for with score breakdowns to see how a company performs in different areas of ethical measurement. In the next couple weeks, we are going to add data and badges to indicate when a company is a Black Owned Business as well as companies that have donated to Black Lives Matter related organizations.
It has been a lot of fun developing Ethicli and I’m glad I get to be working with Linda, Amy, and Cosmo. One of the main reasons I asked each of them to work on it was because they are all really nice and friendly people, and who doesn’t want to work with nice people?
You can check out our website at Ethicli.com and sign up to be a beta tester. We can’t wait to help you shop and change the world!
- Billy T.
Ethicli is a free browser extension that makes ethical shopping easier by providing you with company ethics info and ethical product suggestions. To learn more or download, check us out at ethicli.com.