GreenGuide: Environmentally-conscious shopping made easy


Imagine, if you will, that you are wandering through the aisles of your local grocery store. While shopping for detergent, you find yourself on the horns of an ethical and economic dilemma: you're loyal to one brand, but you find your attention drawn to another product. The new, prettier product costs a couple of dollars more than your regular choice, but it claims that it is better for the environment.

Having read Walletpop's fantastic piece on greenwashing, you wonder if the "greener" product is actually more sustainable, or if it is a scam. You ask yourself if it is really worth the extra money, or if you're paying a lot more for some guilt-inducing marketing. Before you know it, you are embroiled in a wide-reaching philosophical crisis that pits your bank account against your soul in a struggle that makes the Cuban Missile Crisis look like the "Green Stamps" episode of The Brady Bunch. Worst of all, you've got another 30 items on your list!

Thanks to a new website, you may be able to preserve your morals, protect your bank account, and find answers to your question, all in the time it takes you to dial a phone number. The GoodGuide, a scientist-reviewed product-comparison site, attempts to rate products based upon their environmental impact. While it is still only in beta, it already offers information about over 60,000 products, and the site's organizers are planning an expansion into other consumer goods. Best of all, it will soon enable users to access information from their cell phones. The plan, ultimately, is to make it possible for consumers to uncover the green bona fides of almost any product while they're in the store.

Having relied for far too long on a few green companies for most of my morally uplifting household chemicals, I'm pretty excited. With any luck, I'll be able to expand beyond my current dependence upon Seventh Generation, Method, and Dr. Bronner!

Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. Green guilt makes him blue.