Shift London: Shopping sustainably can seem like a drag – having to be aware of what you’re buying and who you’re buying it from. Always. And, can you trust the people who are claiming that their product is guilt free?

There is much to consider when attempting to live as sustainably as you can, and this is where the new Google Chrome extension Balu comes in handy.

Balu, founded by Brian Spurling, is an extension – and soon to be app – that will allow you to do your online shopping as you usually would, but will prompt you with some ethical alternatives to high street brands. Essentially it acts as the good conscious that sits on your shoulder, guiding you down the right path. “Whether you are looking for nappies or groceries or a coat, Balu will give you a recommendation,” Spurling explains.


The idea came to Spurling during his stay in the US: “We found ourselves in Wal-Mart occasionally and every time I walked in there, I just thought it was crazy that my phone doesn’t vibrate at me angrily and say get out, there is a shop just down the road that is so much better than this! It just made me realise that there was definitely a demand for some kind of app that would direct away from the bad and towards the good.”

When it comes to ethical fashion there is always the question of affordability and this is an issue Balu plans on tackling. “I want to have something that looks at the price of the item that you’re searching for and correspond with recommendations that are made.”

In the meantime, while you are browsing ASOS, for example, you are given an array of recommendations, which vary from high street to high-end price range.

Spurling is aware of the bigger brands out there like Amazon and Google and has not created the app to compete with them – only to guide shoppers. This is in hope that one day these big corporations will follow Balu’s footsteps in giving the consumers an insight to the ethical side of these polluting industries.

This is only a small step in changing the future of the world as we know it, Spurling believes. “Fast fashion is very attractive and very cheap, but eventually people will realise that we can’t go living like that and they will have to accept there is a different way of buying clothes, that’s what I hope will happen. It’s just whether it will come soon enough,” he says.

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