iPhone App Scans Bar Codes for Environmental and Heath Ratings

GoodGuide iPhone App Scans Bar Codes for Environmental and Heath Ratings

BY Ariel SchwartzThu Nov 19, 2009 at 12:47 PM

When I first learned about GoodGuide
last March, I was excited at the prospect of a Web site that lets
consumers get detailed environmental, health, and social info on more
than 50,000 products and companies.

Then came the obligatory iPhone app
to let people quickly get the scoop on orange juice brands and cleaning
supplies while standing in the supermarket. And now GoodGuide has
announced its most exciting innovation yet: an updated iPhone app that
scans barcodes for health and environmental ratings.

The process is simple. You just hit the scan tab on the app, point
the phone at a product’s barcode, and voila, instant product ratings on
baby shampoo, yogurt, and everything in between. So even the laziest
among us have no excuse to slack on social responsibility. And did I
mention that the app is free?

If you don’t have an iPhone, GoodGuide offers a text messaging
system. A text to “41411” saying “gguide shampoo,” for example, will
tell you that Tom’s of Maine, Burt’s Bees, and Nurture My Body are the
top scorers in the category.

GoodGuide’s product rating algorithm may not be foolproof, but it’s
pretty reliable–the company takes into account health performance
(cancer risks, reproductive hazards, skin and eye irritation),
environmental performance (emissions, natural resource impacts), and
social performance (diversity, compensation, working conditions). Such
ratings are difficult to assess for companies that remain mum on
internal practices, but a lack of transparency is usually a bad sign
anyway. And until another organization comes along to challenge
GoodGuide’s work, the barcode scanning iPhone app might be worth a