Whether you want to or not, you may be supporting the Koch Brothers, the billionaire, secretive industrialists who are hard at work bankrolling various extreme right, anti-environmentalist, climate change denialist causes. If you use Brawny paper towels, Dixie cups or plates or napkins, Mardi Gras paper towels or napkins, Sparkle napkins, or anything made with products from the world’s largest fiber and textiles company, Invista — including Coolmax, Cordura and Lycra– the Koch Brothers are part of your purchases, your gear, your life.
Darcy Burner, a former Microsoft programmer who is now running for Congress in Washington state, wants to help you not to unwittingly support the Koch Brothers. To that end, Burner is developing an app that will help you avoid products from Koch Brother-owned companies.
As she says to the Guardian,
The Kochs have a record of spending enormous amounts of money to move very reactionary, rightwing policies. Most Americans disagree with those policies but they may be buying products that are bankrolling them.”
We talk about boycotts but with someone like the Kochs, they own so much that it’s difficult to track.
Burner’s app is meant to help people make “informed buying decisions.” The first version of the app will enable people to check a product via its barcode. Eventually, Burner — who would like to have the app ready to go ahead of this year’s election — hopes that that app could actually “warn people when they enter a store with bad labor or environmental practices” and even suggest nearby places where someone “might feel better shopping.”
While it is not so hard to buy a different napkin brand (or forego paper products as much as one might), it may be somewhat harder to get the Koch Brothers out of your outdoor and exercise gear. As Utne Reader’s Keith Goetzman notes, he’s got “duffels, backpacks, stuff sacks, fanny packs, bike bags, luggage, gaiters, and binocular cases” made from Cordura, a company that the Koch Brothers acquired from Dupont in 2004. Goetzman’s own Cordura gear predates the sale so he notes that it is “100 percent Koch-free.”
But Lycra has become ubiquitous for workout and even other clothing. Is the trusty rain jacket you rely on made of Supplex? If so, it’s a Koch Brothers product: As Goetzman points out, de-Koching your life may not be as easy as you might wish. So knowing “there’s an app for that” could come in very handy indeed.
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Photo by Sue Peacock
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