GoodGuide--an iPhone app and website that serves up detailed information about the ethical and environmental impact of personal care products, food, household items, apparel, and more--has long acted as a resource for conscious consumers. But for many people, the hassle of visiting a website or checking an app every time they want to try a new brand of deodorant is a bit too much. That's why GoodGuide just released its "Transparency Toolbar," a Firefox and Google Chrome add-on that only pops up when users are browsing shopping websites.
The toolbar is simple to use. Every time a user goes to Amazon.com (and in the near future, Walmart, Target, Google Products, and Soap.com) and searches for a product in GoodGuide's database, a rating pops up at the bottom of the screen, detailing the product's scores on health, environment, and society--and suggesting higher-scoring alternatives.
A search for Colgate Total Whitening Gel Toothpaste, for instance, tells us that the product scores dismally on health (it contains triclosan, which is suspected to cause skin, sense organ, and immunotoxicity), but does fairly well on environment and society. GoodGuide's environment and society ratings take into account everything from resource management to corporate governance.
Users also have the option to set personal filters. One person's toolbar results may be filtered based upon a preference for fragrance-free products, while another may care more about a brand's energy efficiency.
The Transparency Toolbar may not be enough to convince dedicated Colgate customers to switch to a triclosan-free toothpaste, but it's a start. And for now, GoodGuide is the only organization offering a service that makes detailed consumer product information both accessible and easy to understand. Download the toolbar here.
[Image: Top, Flickr user Shermeee]