Shopping woes

Who hasn’t struggled with trying to discern the products claiming to be green, ethical or good for you that actually kind of aren’t from those that actually make this world a better place? If it often feels like some brands have just hired the marketing teams responsible for getting you hooked on cigarettes, sodas and fast food, you’re not far off. While there certainly are integrity-based marketing agencies, many products and brands find sneaky ways of convincing you that every product you buy is an absolute necessity. As if.

Lucky for us with Internet connections, there’s a website that can help you find the best products that are also most aligned with your value system. GoodGuide.com is the largest online database of its kind. I stumbled on to this site a few weeks ago and had a hard time navigating away from it. After spending more than a decade in the natural products industry, I’ve seen my share of faux-green products and love the concept of a scientific rating that can help me make the best purchasing decisions.

GoodGuide takes the value of a product off the label, especially in the face of the myriad unregulated claims out there littering packaging. They bring an authoritative voice to the health, environmental and social performance of companies and products. They work with scientists who specialize in life cycle assessments, environmental engineering, chemistry, nutrition and sociology to evaluate and rate products.

Categories are all scored with different metrics. Coffee, for example, includes type, packaging and certifications such as Fair Trade or Bird Friendly. Personal care items are measured by the health of the ingredients and the product’s impact on the environment, and they’re all given three ratings that make up their total score (health, environment, society). For example, Aquaphor’s Baby Gentle Wash and Shampoo gets an overall rating of 6.8, with an 8.0 in health, 7.0 in environment and 5.4 in society versus CitraSolv cleaning product, which only gets a 3.6, with 4.0 in health, 3.4 in environment and 3.2 in society.

Of course, there’s also a mobile app you can use while shopping for anything from clothing and cars to smart phones and pet food. Got questions? Ask the team on February 23rd when they’re hosting the site’s first-ever Cerfitication Chat Party on Twitter. Experts will be online to answer questions at hashtag #CertChat at 1 PST/4 EST.

Keep in touch with Jill on Twitter @jillettinger

Image: GoodGuide