Where’s my iPod Made? SourceMap Has the Answer
MIT’s Media Lab
 has designed a way to help you understand the economic and
ecological implications behind different products you buy–it’s an
interactive map that displays where each component came from.
designed to be a “collective tool for transparency and sustainability,”
SourceMap’s intended to demonstrate how important supply chains are,
and what the consequences of each part of the chain work out to be.
It’s set up like a social network, so that anyone from producers to
end-users can take part (as long as you’re a registered member). Check
out the demonstration video to get a better insight:
system’s core is a list of “parts”, many of which make up a full
product. Each part has a start point, and the estimated carbon
footprint of getting the specific part to the product assembly line
contributes to an estimate for the carbon footprint of the whole
machine. A part can have photos, videos and text tags, and it can be
described for different portions of a product lifespan–including
As a tool it has significant promise, and could
certainly become an important way for eco-campaigners to get their
message across. It’s in early stages as an open-source product though,
and the MIT team fully expects it to grow in good (and bad) ways.
They’re accepting of irrelevant mistakes and “downright useless” maps,
but that should change once they appoint moderators.