By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
From electronics powered by the sun to plates made from corn, towels woven from bamboo and suits spun from recycled plastic bottles, green products are crowding into stores. Never before has the green consumer enjoyed such a dazzling, dizzying…and completely confusing array of treats.
How does one choose? Should you get the locally grown zucchini or the organically farmed summer quash? The bamboo towel from Asia or the organic cotton bath sheet from Texas? Organic face cream or natural? Disposable or reusable? Plastic or stainless? Is it green, sustainable, FSC and Fair Trade?
For an increasing number of consumers, these are important questions. But the answers are spread across a universe of websites, books and human resources. That’s where GoodGuide and TheFind come in. GoodGuide is an online index that rates green food, toys, personal care and household products. TheFind is a shopping search engine that allows you to search and segregate green consumer goods. Both websites want to help you find the stuff that’s legitimately green, with the attributes that you value, and also ferret out products making false claims of sustainability.
Both websites also aim big: GoodGuide has already investigated tens of thousands of green products and wants to become the largest, most reliable online tool that consumers employ to vet the green credentials of a product, be it baby food or dog food, hairspray or bug spray, an action figure or a soil activator.
The free service tells prospective buyers about the product’s contents, its environmental pedigree and whether its manufacturer is working to lower greenhouse gas emissions, embracing low-impact methods, cultivating non-toxic alternatives, treating workers fairly and offering transparency into company workings.
The GoodGuide, which launched last September, already boasts a library of 70,000 products and is getting daily queries from the public for more, says Jodie Van Horn, director of partnerships for GoodGuide. (Now that consumers can assess their food, they’re asking for the guide to step up its inventory of pet foods.)
Now about TheFind. Its goal is simple: to show shoppers “everything” that’s available for sale, online and locally.
“With Google you can see (and) you can find any article from any website anywhere, we’re just trying to do that with shopping,” says TheFind’s CEO Siva Kumar. “It can be done.”
A distinguishing feature of TheFind, which can link shoppers to 500,000 stores, is that it gives searchers an option to sift out the “green” products and/or find local stores. The local shopping option, in some instances, may offer the lowest carbon-footprint purchase. All told, TheFind can locate some 320 million products, and more than a million of them are part of its green data collection.
Are you sensing that the GoodGuide and TheFind might be compatible? So did the proprietors, which is how TheFind and GoodGuide came to partner by interlinking to each other’s data. This just-announced partnership should put green consumers on the fast track to finding the best-of-class, verifiably green products – in the price and location they want.