Monday, June 15, 2009


After years of gathering data and lobbying for funding, Dara O’Rourke, a professor of environmental and labor policy at the University of California, Berkeley, launched a wonderful website GoodGuide, to help consumers sort through all the marketing mumbo-jumbo about the supposed eco-consciousness of various products. So far, the site has scored about 75,000 products and is making headlines after joining up with Apple and appearing in a recent iPhone App Ad. The NY Times reports:

...Users enter a product’s name to get scores. For instance, Tom’s of Maine deodorant gets an 8.6 in part because it has no carcinogens, while Arrid XX antiperspirant rates a 3.8 because it contains known carcinogens. Another click leads to information behind the scores, like whether an ingredient causes reproductive problems or produces toxic waste, or whether the company has women and racial minorities in executive positions or faces labor lawsuits...

“What we think of now as green is a marketing mirage,” usually based on a single environmentally friendly practice, said Daniel Goleman, author of “Ecological Intelligence,” who switched deodorants and shampoos because of GoodGuide. The site could potentially “have a revolutionary effect on industry and commerce,” he said, by educating shoppers about the ramifications of buying a particular product...

I checked out a favorite dessert item of mine, Skinny Cow, that has one of the higher ratings on the site, and was disappointed to learn that the company has had multiple violations of the Clean Water Act and is one of the lowest rated on environmental management compliance. Stoneyfield Farm Organic Yogurt, thankfully, seems to be a guilt-free buy.

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