Green Wednesday: GoodGuide and Wikia Stand Up to Greenwashing

From on November 19, 2008 in Green Remodeling

Greenwashing is a new term for a marketing spin put on products to present them as “green,” when in fact they may not be authentically green at all.

Eco Geek posted an article by Jaymi Heimbuch on the topic. It features a new startup called GoodGuide, “a source for free, scientist-verified data about products we purchase so we can ID for ourselves if what we’re consuming is as green as the company says it is. It is a great sibling site to the new Wikia Green.”

GoodGuideGoodGuide has over 61,000 personal care and household products you can search. In their ratings, they take into consideration the health, environmental, and social impacts of products and companies. Some examples of household products with the highest ratings are:

  • Seventh Generation Natural All Purpose Cleaner
  • Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Cleaner
  • Ecos Fruit & Veggie Cleaner

Each product has an overall rating from 10 (the highest) on down. In addition, you can click on Quick Look and See All Data. Behind the ratings is research into aspects of the companies producing the products, including categories such as:

  • Corporate Governance
  • Labor and Human Rights
  • Workforce Diversity

In the cases of these exemplary products, there is also enough information provided about household chemicals and cleaners to impress even the most avid label reader and eco-aware consumer. And if that’s not enough, if a product has certifications or listings with the like of Coop America and Leaping Bunny, those are shown along with links to the certifying organizations for information about their standards.

An article on Earth Lab about the launch of Wikia Green reports, “Jimmy Wales is best known for evangelizing Wikipedia, the open-source, nonprofit encyclopedia he co-founded in 2001. His for-profit venture, Wikia, in its fourth year, has just unveiled a community for all things ‘green.’

“Anyone can edit Wikia, just like Wikipedia, which is built to attract people passionate about a given topic rather than to provide a general reference. All the content on Wikia Green can be re-used and copied by anybody, commercially or non-commercially.

When asked, ‘How do you prevent companies from stacking the entries with what some environmentalists call greenwashing?’ Wales replied, ‘My view is that’s virtually impossible in a wiki context, particularly a green wiki…The community monitors things as they come in. It’s not a voting-style system that can be gamed. It’s really an open discussion, dialog, and debate system. This is one of the great strengths of a wiki: it’s a great counter to astroturfing and other types of campaigns.’”

Visit Wikia Green for the green scene in categories including Sustainable Living, Environmental Issues, How To, and more.