Determining a product’s true greenness can be difficult. Manufacturers aren’t required to disclose ingredients, and unless you know what to look for and what to avoid, a quick glance at the ingredients listed may not tell you much. Sometimes you just can’t do it on your own – and now you don’t have to.
The GoodGuide, a website and now an iPhone application, breaks down the eco-friendliness of more than75,000 general products. Consumers can type in the product name on the website or on their iPhone to uncover its health, environmental and social impacts. The next version of the iPhone will let consumers scan barcodes, making it that much easier.
The GoodGuide iPhone application lets you quickly check a product’s rating or browse the top-rated products in a category while you’re in the store./Photo Courtesy GoodGuide
The GoodGuide’s scores are based on a 10-point scale that looks at the product’s health, environmental and social performance—everything from how the ingredients affect our health to the number of chemical spills a company has and its workforce diversity.
Based in San Francisco, GoodGuide employs 12 full-time and 12 part-time employees, evenly split between scientists and engineers. The employees conduct their own research and use more than 200 sources to review the products, including government databases and studies by nonprofits and academics.
Because federal law does not require manufacturers to list ingredients, holes remain in GoodGuide’s research and reviews. However, in light of recent consumer concern and a wave of greenwashing law suits, some companies have agreed to reveal more about their ingredients, which will help GoodGuide fill in these gaps.
The basic website will always be free to use, even though GoodGuide does not and will not sell ads. In the future, GoodGuide may offer a subscription fee for personalized sites, and it may also license data to governments and retailers.