Good Guide Iphone appVoting with your money just got MUCH easier.

The Good Guide iphone app brings ethical decision making power into the hands of the consumer right where they need it: at the point of purchase. By combining bar code 'scanning' (taking a photo) with an 'ethical index' of consumer products Good Guide are pretty much the first to market with this long awaited, and much debated, concept.

Making careful decisions about the things we buy has been our best way to influence the development and proliferation of more ethical goods and services for some time. Our political votes do diddly-squat to change the capitalist system, but the less rubbish we buy, the less rubbish they sell and so bad 'goods' become obsolete or are replaced by better versions. It's a pretty solid theory, which forms the back-bone of the de facto Design idea: Our collective behaviour creates the dominant, de facto paradigm in which we live and all the 'stuff' and ideas that surround us.

The idea that we can 'shop our way out of trouble' is taking it one step too far, don't let the marketing spin and greenwash gurus confuse you! Consumerism itself has created serious environmental and social problems. Consuming more 'eco' or 'ethical' products does not address the core issues of resource depletion, energy consumption and waste.  But by consuming less, better quality goods we can influence the world around us.

If you want to shop ethically you need good information and the Good Guide app looks like a step in the right direction. Obviously, its real value depends heavily on the methodology, transparency and independence behind their rating system. The ECIS (Ethical Consumption Information Systems) collaboration project, organised by Jonathan Melhuish and Annesley Newholm has been publishing a series of podcast interviews and organising online teleconferences to discuss the complexities of data collection, representation, summarisation and presentation. It's a complex field which would benefit enormously from some shared, open source protocols and practices. Imagine if all the following projects were contributing to the same system or ratings and reviews... Working in collaboration they would undoubtedly be more trustworthy than whatever Good Guide can do alone.

But, for now at least, Good Guide have the first mover advantage. It will be interesting to see how long it lasts...

Other sites working on Ethical Indices:
Ethical Consumer

Easy Ethical
Consumer Gadget
Citizens Market
Better World Shopper
The Carrot Project
The Fair Tracing Project
Karma Bank



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