Good Guide: A Tool to Make Companies Do the Right Thing

GoodGuide Homepage

At Breast Cancer Action, our vision is a world in which no consumer has to wonder whether the product she or he is buying contains dangerous chemicals, no mother has to fear that her children’s toys are toxic, and no worker has to worry about getting sick because of her or his job. It’s a world in which all people are equally protected from exposure to harmful substances, resulting in fewer cancer cases down the road.

We advocate for more corporate transparency and accountability as one way to protect ourselves from exposure to harmful, toxic ingredients in everyday products. We need to know where our food comes from and whether it contains genetically modified organisms or was produced using synthetic hormones, antibiotics, and pesticides. Government agencies continue to fall short of their responsibility to protect the public from contamination and other food safety violations.

Recently, a new online resource tool emerged to help us in our purchasing decisions and choices. GoodGuide provides comprehensive information on what products contain and how they are harmful to our health and our environment. The web site, www.goodguide.com, is based on a simple premise:

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“People have the right to know what they’re putting in, on, and around their bodies. There are three simple things everyone should know about their food but don’t: Where did it come from? How was it made? What’s in it?”

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The idea for GoodGuide was developed by Dara O’Rourke, a professor of environmental and labor policy at the University of California, Berkeley. His team includes academic and technology experts, scientists, consumer researchers, technologists, and industry professionals. Their aim is to “provide the world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of the products in your home.” The service is free, and the company doesn’t endorse, promote, sell, or derive revenue from any particular brand or product.

So how does GoodGuide work? If you’re online it lets you do the following:

  • Find health, environmental, and social performance ratings for over 70,000 food, toy, personal care, and household products—from baby shampoo to bathroom cleaner
  • Instantly check products, view ratings, and find safer, healthier products while you are in a store and on the go
  • Create personal favorites lists that are accessible anytime, anywhere
  • Quickly get the information you need before you make your purchase

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You can access information directly from GoodGuide’s web site or via of the following mobile sources:

  • iPhone. Download GoodGuide’s iPhone application through Apple’s iTunes App Store. It’s free. GoodGuide’s iPhone application currently provides information about personal care and household chemical products, but it will soon be expanding to include food, toys, and electronics.
  • Text. Simply send a text message to 41411. Every text message must begin with the word “gguide” in the body of the message. Then, add whatever you are searching for after “gguide.” For example, search by product “gguide shampoo” or by brand “gguide pantene shampoo.” Or search by bar code. Send a text to “gguide” followed by a 12-digit UPC code (these are all of the numbers on a bar code, including the small numbers at the start and finish).

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GoodGuide is a comprehensive database of information on the performance and impacts of products and companies. However, it does not cover all environmental, social, or health issues, or all possible sources of information, so there are gaps. But the system’s analyses and ratings methods are transparent.

“Knowledge and selective spending combines to make a powerful tool in this economy.”

GoodGuide could be a striking resource. Knowledge and selective spending combines to make a powerful tool in this economy. If we start to use GoodGuide to get companies to act in the right way, and if the millions of people who have an iPhone and who send text messages use this program to inform their everyday purchases, companies will have no choice but to respond.

“If the millions of people who have an iPhone and who send text messages use this program to inform their everyday purchases, companies will have no choice but to respond.”

The GoodGuide is a Certified B Corporation.

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