On Monday, an iPhone application named GoodGuide was discussed in the MNN Daily Briefing. The product allows consumers to quickly get past the fancy marketing on products to determine if an item is truly is eco-friendly. This is a great way to pick out the greenwashers!

Dara O’Rourke is the force behind the GoodGuide app and the genesis behind the product’s creation was his daughter. According to a New York Times article, O’Rourke had his “Aha!” moment while applying sunscreen to his daughter. After briefly looking at the ingredients, he realized that there were several toxins in the product.

“A few years ago, Mr. O’Rourke noticed that at the end of his lectures, audience members were raising their hands to ask which kind of laptop or sneaker or lotion to buy. Americans are becoming increasingly interested in what is in the stuff they buy.” Source: New York Times

As a professor of environmental and labor policy at UC Berkeley, O’Rourke knew that he had to do something to bring this important information to the masses. In September 2008, the GoodGuide website (and ultimately the iPhone application) was launched.

After a recent appearance in an iPhone commercial, the GoodGuide app has garnered quite a bit of press. So what is an environmental blogger like myself to do? Simple – grab my handy dandy iPhone and download GoodGuide to check it out for myself.

The first thing that I have to say about the application is that it is free! I don’t mind paying for a good program, but I love free apps. So after the quick download, install, and reboot, I launched the application.

Since O’Rourke’s wheels started turning after a sunscreen application, I decided to look up the sunscreen that I use on my children. The product has an overall rating of 7.6 with a 10 in Health, a 6.1 in Environmental, and a 6.7 in Social. Although I wasn’t sure if the sixes were good ratings at first, the description right there on the application leads me to believe that they are, when compared to other companies. Okay, I’m off to a good start -- my kids’ sunscreen is relatively safe and the company that makes it is doing pretty well in the environmental and social arenas (although there is room for improvement).

Overall, I think this is a great application and a good way for those already inclined towards making eco-conscious choices as well as those new on their “going green” journey to help separate the green businesses from the greenwashing businesses.

GoodGuide: Green business guide on your iPhone
GoodGuide allows you to get past good marketing and look at the nitty gritty eco-details on tens of thousands of products.