Friday, December 09, 2011

GoodGuide's Transparency Toolbar

Don't know if I'll get around to testing this toolbar (a rigid set of very serious, scientific tests!)  but thought I'd do a quick thing about it.  The GoodGuide is an online concern that helps people purchase items they use everyday without the guilt of being "greenwashed" - if someone can explain this term to me I would be very appreciative, but apparently some of the common, everyday items you buy everyday can come from pollution factories and shady manufacturing practices.  Now, Goodguide has come out with a Transparency Toolbar for all your online shopping; it allows you to place a series of filters based on what you don't want in your products (animal testing, unsafe workplace) and then lets you know if a manufacturer fits within this scope.  Here's a link to the video explaining the toolbar on the You Tubes.

I get that people want to carry living ethically to the extremes and try to keep the bad karma away by using things like the Goodguide Toolbar.  And I think it is probably a very useful tool, my problem with it is that the alternative is simple yet does not make sense in our very consumer-centric society.  DO NOT BUY ANYTHING.  That is the alternative.  Okay, that's extreme, too.  How about only buying what you need and not buying every stick deodorant on the planet?  (I don't know if there are people who do this, I'm just using this as an example).

Or buying products second hand - you don't need sterile floor wax, for instance.  If you can buy a half-used bottle of it at a garage sale, why is that bad?  The same goes with shampoo and conditioner.  I regularly get this stuff from friends who end up not liking the hair products they buy, for whatever reason.  Instead of chucking it, they pass it along.  Of course, I'm still washing my hair with baking soda and apple cider vinegar so I've got a bit of a backlog, right now.  But I can take this stuff to my workplace and put it all on a table in the break room with a "for free" sign and it would all be gone by the end of the day.

There is no reason why we can't use things like the Goodguide Toolbar to help us make consumption decisions (I seem to remember AdBusters was developing a scanner not too long ago, before there were "apps," to scan barcodes on products and tell you if there were any environmental or ethical flags).  The thing is, we've got to break this cycle of using the simplest common denominator to make our decisions.  We are, by nature and instinct, hunters and gatherers.  We may have to work a little harder to be less consumptive while at the same time being ethical, but working harder to acquire is in our blood.  We just have to see the utility in it - if it saves money and does the least amount of harm to others, it is a good thing, right?  These are new things to think about!

Okay, I can't wind down from this so I'm going to say that I will bring that second-hand shampoo to work and see if there are any takers.
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