Category 18 April 2019

Authoritative information about health, environmental and social performance of products and companies

GoodGuide focuses on rating everyday household products that consumers buy from offline or online retail outlets such as supermarkets or e-commerce sites. Core product categories include personal care products and household chemical and food products. GoodGuide has developed a simple 10 points rating system and a bar-code scanning iPhone app which enable consumers to receive simplified and easily accessible information on the products they are purchasing in terms of their environmental and social impacts.

The challenge

Consumers looking for sustainable products face the challenge of being presented with incomplete information and a large number of different ecological and social labels. Comparing different product options and understanding which products would have less of an environmental and social impact is a complex task - even for the most well informed consumers.

The innovation

GoodGuide was founded in 2007 by Dara O'Rourke, a professor of environmental and labour policy at the University of California at Berkeley (United States) using private equity funding for development, demonstration and commercial exploitation. The company has assembled an expert team comprising of scientific and technological experts to assess products based on their environmental, health and social impacts.

GoodGuide is an online information sharing website that helps consumers make informed purchasing decisions. The website has rated 210,000 food, toys, personal care as well as other household products. It has developed an easy to understand methodology to rate products on social, health and environmental dimensions. GoodGuide has developed practical product screening mobile and internet applications. By scanning the product barcode using the GoodGuide iPhone app, the consumers learn which product is the better option for them. The consumers can self-adjust product screening sustainability criteria and set a relative preference for product rating. They can for example give a high weighting to the social dimension and compare the social performance of products. Installing the GoodGuide browser helps filter products based on consumer’s personal values and preferences.

Why did it work?

GoodGuide was the brainchild of Dara O'Rourke, Professor of Labour and Environmental Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. Knowing profoundly how complex was it for consumers to identify products matching their values and preferences in environmental, social and health issues, Dara decided to create a simple product-ranking tool to guide consumers towards sustainable consumption.

Further deployment

More and more products are rated and added to the GoodGuide better or worst product list. The initiative has potential for replication in other regions. The maturity of this business model is estimated to be 9 on the GML scale.