In January of this year, one of the most high-powered attempts ever undertaken to stitch together consumer shopping with social responsibility was launched. The effort – dubbed Product Red – was unveiled at the annual gathering of the rich and powerful at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by no less than U2’s Bono.

The idea behind Product Red is simple – line up major international consumer brands like Gap, Giorgio Armani, and American Express, and get them to donate a portion of...

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