January 14, 2011

GoodGuide – Buy Safer Products

The labels on your cleaning products might include words like “green” and “organic,” but what do those terms really mean? If you’ve been using GoodGuide, then you already know. The team of engineers and scientists behind the ratings and review website looks at all different types of products – including personal items, foods, household chemicals, office products, and toys – and delivers concise reports detailing exactly what consumers need to know to stay safe.

Although you can use GoodGuide to find important health, environmental, and social performance information about many of the products that line your shelves without downloading the iPhone application, GoodGuide will prove infinitely more useful once you’ve downloaded the app onto your mobile device. From your iPhone, GoodGuide lets you scan the barcodes of thousands of different products as you’re shopping at the grocery store or pharmacy. When the guide recognizes an item, a popup will appear showing the product’s overall GoodGuide rating, along with separate ratings for health, environment, and societal implications. The application is also useful when browsing for products, since you can type in the name of any item – such as hand sanitizer, for example – and see a page with a list of the highest rated brands and most dangerous ingredients to watch out for.

When you’re sitting at your desktop computer, you can use GoodGuide to review the safety of many of the products already inside your home. Each product page features GoodGuide’s ratings, along with a listing of the top alternatives and links to where additional products can be purchased online. For health-conscious consumers and parents who are worried about the levels on toxins in their homes, GoodGuide is an excellent resource to have on hand.

Practical Uses:

  • Buy the hand sanitizer that has the fewest harmful chemicals
  • Make sure the air freshener you use isn’t hurting your kids
  • Read important safety information about many of today’s most popular toys
  • Find out how the items you purchase are impacting the environment and society at large

Insider Tips:

  • Download the iPhone app to use GoodGuide at the store
  • Purchase products by clicking on provided links on the GoodGuide site
  • GoodGuide gets its data from government databases, nonprofit studies, and research done by scientists on staff
  • Users can unlock “badges” based on the products they have at home

What we liked:

  • GoodGuide makes it easy to look up product details that aren’t listed on the label
  • Simple scores and ratings help users understand which products are good and bad
  • Listing of alternative products is helpful when people are looking for a better option
  • Being able to scan barcodes on the iPhone app makes GoodGuide even more useful

What we didn’t like:

  • Although GoodGuide is continually updating its information database, there are many products that still are not rated on the site


Company Info:

  • Launched: September 2008
  • Privately Held
  • Headquarters: San Francisco, California
  • Founded by: Dara O’Rourke
  • Web site:


  • Free

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