Honestly leads consumers to more ethical purchases

A Call for Code global finalist team from Australia uses AI to pass supply chain transparency on to consumers

Honestly leads consumers to more ethical purchases

How can you really know the environmental impact of that pair of jeans you just ordered online? Household consumption of goods contributes to over 60% of the greenhouse gases that drive climate change. Now, e-commerce is causing an increasing share of the environmental damage created by consumer goods: The UN reports that during the COVID-19 pandemic, online sales jumped from 16% to 19% of all retail sales. Individual consumers want to do the right thing and are often willing to spend a bit more to make sustainable purchases. However, it can be overwhelming to try to fully understand the ethical practices of the businesses they buy from or the environmental footprint of the products they consume.

The 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge Finalist solution Honestly — built by a team of students from the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney — was designed to pass consumers the information they need to make ethical decisions at the online point of sale. The team was excited by the opportunity to share innovative ideas and build a tangible solution that could make a practical impact and go beyond the more theoretical solutions they discuss on campus.

Honestly provides consumers with an online browser extension that acts as a shopping assistant, displaying carbon footprint details of a particular product and sustainability efforts of the brand. It aggregates data from multiple sources so users don’t have to. It then alerts them in real time to any bad press on the brand, displays relevant ratings on the company compiled from external bodies, and provides supply chain data for the selected product, including how it compares to industry benchmarks. The solution gives consumers immediate transparency into the climate impact of their purchase decisions, including how products are produced, sourced, and transported. All of this data is displayed in an easy-to-read web banner on the page where the user is shopping, so they can make informed decisions at the time of purchase. For manufacturers, Honestly provides businesses a platform to share their sustainability practices and receive positive recognition from consumers.

The Honestly solution searches several online news sources using the News API and uses the IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding engine to parse that information and build a rating for each business. For participating businesses, Honestly can pull data on individual products and supply chain information for consumers as well. The solution back end is run on a Node engine and stored in an IBM Cloud Databases for PostgreSQL.

Individuals want to help fight climate change but don’t always know how to go about it. Honestly is providing consumers with the key information needed to more easily make environmentally conscious decisions about where they spend their money.

Attend the Call for Code Awards to find out who will win the 2021 Call for Code Global Challenge.