Behind the Ratings: Labor Rights

Fair TradeHere at GoodGuide, it’s our goal to give you meaningful information about the health, environmental and societal impacts of products and companies so that you can vote with your dollars by making purchases that reflect your personal values. The GoodGuide rating — now available for more than 220,000 everyday products – is made up of data from over 1,000 different sources, including scientific institutions, governmental agencies, commercial data aggregators, non-governmental organizations, media outlets and corporations. Once collected, our scientists apply rigorous methodologies grounded in the sciences of informatics, health and environmental risk assessment, life cycle assessment and social impact analysis. When all is analyzed, we generate the official GoodGuide rating, with best performers receiving higher scores.

One dimension of the GoodGuide rating is Society, which tracks the social impacts associated with the manufacture and sale of a product, including management practices, transparency, consumer safety, community partnerships and policies related to its workforce. It’s this last dimension we want to highlight in this post, in honor of Labor Day in the U.S.A. The GoodGuide Worker Score rates company performance on such issues as occupational safety and health, diversity and equal opportunity, and human and labor rights. We’ve been advocates for improving worker conditions for a long time — check out GoodGuide co-founder Dara O’Rourke’s comment in April 2014 to the New York Times on the efforts to improve worker conditions following the tragic factory fires in Bangladesh. We applaud those companies that are taking action to implement positive change throughout the supply chain, and today shine our spotlight a just a couple of category leaders who are actively making a difference both through their practices and disclosure of Labor and Workers Rights policies.

MaggiesOrganicsCompany: Maggie’s Organics
Category: Apparel
G/G Worker Score: 9.4
G/G Society Score: 8.2
G/G Overall Score: 7.8
Certifications: Green America Seal of Approval – Gold Level
Behind the Ratings: Maggie’s Organics social policies, practices and performance place it among the best 5% of companies rated by GoodGuide. A recipient of the Gold Level Seal of Approval from Green America (formerly Co-op America) indicates that the company is leading the industry by embedding social responsibility in to their corporate DNA, operating in ways that solve, rather than cause, both environmental and social problems by adopting principles, policies, and practices that improve the quality of life for their customers, their employees, communities, and the environment. Maggie’s Organics’ commitment to Fair Labor is transparently communicated on the company website.
Where to Buy: www.maggiesorganics.com

NewmansOwnCompany: Newman’s Own Organics
Category: Food (Coffee, Drinks, Packaged Food)
G/G Workers Score: 7.8
G/G Society Score: 5.9
G/G Overall Score: 5.9
Certifications: Fair Trade Coffee Certification
Behind the Ratings: The Fair Trade Certified™ Label guarantees consumers that strict economic, social and environmental criteria were met in the production and trade of an agricultural product. To display the Fair Trade Certified™ label on their products, companies must buy from certified farms, pay Fair Trade prices, and submit to supply chain audits. Fair Trade USA certifies coffee, tea and herbs, cocoa and chocolate, fresh fruit, flowers, sugar, rice, honey, nuts and oils, vanilla, spirits and wine, personal care, apparel, and sports balls
Where to Buy: www.newmansownorganics.com/stores/index.php

SeventhGenerationCompany: Seventh Generation, Inc.
Category: Personal Care
G/G Workers Score: 7.7
G/G Society Score: 7.1
G/G Overall Score: 7.9
Certifications: Leaping Bunny Certified; Member of Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO); PETA Animal Treatment Assessment; Green America Seal of Approval – Gold Level; B Corporation; EPA Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative – Champions; GRI Sustainability Reporting
Behind the Ratings: Adopted a Supplier Code of Conduct in 2013, revised supplier audit protocols and terminated ties with one supplier for non-compliance.
Where to Buy: http://www.seventhgeneration.com/where-to-buy

DrBronnersCompany: Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps
Category: Personal Care
G/G Workers Score: 9.7
G/G Society Score: 8.3
G/G Overall Score: 7.8
Certifications: Safe Cosmetics Pledge; Coming Clean Campaign Endorsement Status; Leaping Bunny Certified; PETA Animal Treatment Assessment; Green America Seal of Approval – Gold Level; IMO Social Responsibility Certification
Behind the Ratings: Product sourcing is fully disclosed to the public on the company website. Since 2006, the company has sourced 95% of raw materials from certified Fair Trade suppliers. With regard to it’s internal compensation policies, the total pay for the highest paid employees is capped at 5x that of the lowest paid employee.
Where to Buy: https://www.drbronner.com/

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Sneak Peek: the new GoodGuide.com

In just a few days, GoodGuide will unveil a new website design. Here’s your opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes look at what we’ve got in store. We hope you’ll check it out and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

A New, Streamlined Homepage

Homepage

GoodGuide.com Homepage

In addition to a new look and feel, we’re streamlining our navigation to make made it even easier to search and find scientific ratings on over 200,000 consumer products. Speaking of our ratings, we’ve increased visibility into our methodologies, so you can better understand how we evaluate products, companies and their impact on our health, the environment, and society. We’ve also highlighted the highest rated products across our categories.

Improved Product Filters

Product Filters

Product Filters

The new GoodGuide.com features improved filtering options that let you find products that meet your specific concerns and criteria. With our new, simplified filters, you’ll no longer need to use the Purchase Analyzer to customize your personal shopping preferences — simply refine your search to narrow your product selections. (Note: If you connected your Amazon, Safeway, Diapers.com, Soap.com, or Wag.com accounts to the Purchase Analyzer, please be assured that these connections will be safely revoked and permanently removed from our system).

New Product Page Layout

Product Page

Product Page

You’ll find all the ratings details you’ve come to expect from GoodGuide in a simpler, more intuitive page. Drill down to learn what’s behind each rating and get detailed information about ingredients of concern. Use our “buy now” buttons for the products that meet your personal criteria.

GoodGuide Mobile

Mobile

Mobile

Take GoodGuide with you wherever you go! We’ve also streamlined our iOS app, making it even easier to scan product barcodes, search or browse for products when you are in the store. Download it from the app store today, and see why iTunes, the New York Times and Lucky Magazine have recommended us to their readers.

Let us know what you love, and what you think we could keep improving.

Sincerely,
The GoodGuide Team

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WEF14: Why is Sustainability So Hard?

This post first appeared on The Guardian Sustainable Business Blog (Jan. 24, 2014)

SunriseDavos14

Sunrise over the Swiss Alps, Davos 2014. Photo by Good Guide co-founder, Dara O’Rourke.

One thing that has surprised me in my time in Davos is how often I’ve heard CEOs complain about how hard it is to promote sustainability and social responsibility inside their companies.

In session after session, it has been clear that even the most powerful CEOs feel that transforming their organizations is hard.

Very hard.

In one of the few “public” sessions where CEOs talked about this, the panelists presented a long list of impediments to changing business for the good, including: a few bad apple companies (which have sunk public trust in corporations to record lows); investors (which think too short-term); the media (which only runs negative stories and beats up on them even when they try CSR); corporate boards (that are too share price focused); government regulation (which causes more problems than it solves); and consumers (who think green products perform worse and won’t pay more).

My first thought is that these sound like a bunch of scapegoats. (Interestingly, I haven’t heard the same litany in sessions about technological disruptions and supply chain innovations.) Further, what about the role of the CEOs themselves? And of the ways that some corporations undermine the institutions needed to address global sustainability issues?

But my second thought is that these are believable stoppers to sustainability. Short-term investors? Check. Conflicted boards? Probably. Selfish consumers? Sure. Although no single one of these is the root cause of sustainability failures, together they create enough barriers to block most sustainability initiatives inside corporations.

That brings me to my third thought, if each of these barriers can block sustainability initiatives, then how do we align systems and incentives to move sustainability forward? And can strong leaders push past these blockages? For instance, it was fantastic to hear that Richard Goyders, the CEO of Wesfarmers, no longer meets with short-term investors. And to hear Marks & Spencer and Unilever talk about engaging consumers in new ways.

But clearly, unique CEOs and individual corporate actions are not enough. We need partnerships – including NGO and government action – to address these blockages, and to create incentives for firms to push through them. We need ways to align supply chains to solve problems, instead of allowing any one barrier to block everything.

As one CEO quipped: Average CEOs do what average investors demand.

It’s time for exceptional leaders to create partnerships to push past these limits.

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WEF14: New millennial consumers and sustainability

This post first appeared on The Guardian Sustainable Business Blog (Jan. 23, 2014)

DORourkeSelfie2_wef14

Dara O’Rourke, a professor at UC Berkeley and the co-founder of GoodGuide.com, is the chair of WEF’s Global Agenda Council on Sustainable Consumption.

The next generation of consumers is clearly on the minds of the CEOs and CMOs at Davos. A number of sessions have touched on what emerging “millennial” consumers of China, India, Brazil, and beyond will look like in 10 years. And similarly, how the next generation of consumers in the US and Europe will act.

Everyone seems to agree that new technologies, and in particular emerging mobile, wearable, ubiquitous, transparent information systems, are radically changing how new millennials see and interact with products, brands, and retailers, what they demand of them, and what they want for their futures. Consumers can know more, and they obviously share much more than ever before. The pace of this change is only accelerating.

However, brands and retailers are frustrated that their efforts to engage consumers around sustainability have had limited impact to date. Increasingly, they admit in closed-door sessions, that they simply don’t know how to talk to the new millennials.

These new consumers, in fact, bristle at even being called consumers. They think of themselves as makers, users, sharers, and sometimes participants in the production of products, services, content, etc. They have values. They get status from different things than their parents did. And they want to support products and companies that align with their values.

But as one CEO lamented: are young consumers really disruptive enough? Do they care about labor and environment issues? Will they change their demand for cheap fast fashion when they learn about tragedies like in Bangladesh? Or do they just want new sexy products at low prices?

These questions have bottom line impacts as CEOs assess how to redesign products and business models to meet new demands. And they clearly have implications for global sustainability. Will these new millennials consume as Northern consumers have? Or might they embrace sharing (rather than owning) and the circular economy? Will they even have jobs to pay for the goods and services these companies sell.

There is clearly significant potential to engage these new millennials, and in particular to support their participation in efforts to rethink products and business to promote sustainability.

The good news on this is that some of the largest retailers and brands in the world are studying these issues and beginning to develop programs to try to engage the next generation of consumers/makers/citizens.

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GoodGuide Joins UL Environment

We are very excited to announce that GoodGuide has been acquired by UL Environment, a business unit of UL (Underwriters Laboratories) that’s focused on helping people make, market, find, and trust greener, healthier, more sustainable products. This merger brings together two organizations deeply committed to sustainability and product transparency. (You can read more about our partnership here.)

Don’t worry: GoodGuide’s web and mobile apps are not going away. We will continue to operate “business as usual,” and our team will still be building tools and rating products to help you find the best products for you and your family. We will also be working to enhance and optimize those tools and rating systems to serve even more users and prospective customers as part of our longer-term goals.

Joining UL Environment provides GoodGuide with a strong and trusted commercial partner that is mission-aligned and that will help ensure the continued availability of GoodGuide information. UL is one of the oldest and most respected brands in the product testing, certifying, and information-sharing space. By becoming part of UL Environment, we will be able to continue to improve the quality of the information we use in our ratings and recommendations.

THANK YOU so much for your support over the last several years. We look forward to this next phase in our mission to empower people with better information that helps move the market towards safer, healthier, and greener products.

Sincerely,

George Consagra
CEO

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The Naked Brand

GoodGuide is honored to be featured in a powerful new documentary film – which is having its San Francisco Premiere today. The Naked Brand is:

about how corporations can help save the planet one small step at a time. It’s an introduction to a bright new future where companies tell the truth and work hard to create better products and a better planet. Corporations have incredible influence on the world we live in and that’s given them free reign to pollute, collude and mislead us, but advances in technology are rapidly making them accountable not just to shareholders, but to everyone. Now that we have constant access to the truth about the products we use and the ethics of the companies behind them, big brands are realizing that looking great isn’t enough. It’s time to actually be great.

The documentary features interesting interviews with some of the leading thinkers in the world of corporate marketing and communications: Alex Bogusky, Tony Hsieh, Yvon Chouinard, Keith Weed, and more. 

Check out the film and the growing movement towards radical transparency.

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Spring Cleaning, Naturally

Even though this spring may not feel very different from our exceptionally warm winter, it’s still time to do a little spring cleaning.  But be careful – cleaning products are actually among the most significant sources of exposure to toxic chemicals in the home. They can contribute to indoor air pollution, and can be poisonous if ingested or even touched. According to the U.S. Poison Control Center, household cleaners are responsible for about 10% of all toxic exposures. So are all “green” cleaning products safe for you and the environment? And how do you know if that “natural” cleaner really is free of harmful toxins? Here are some quick tips to clean your way to a safe and healthy home:

  • Watch for generic terms such as “fragrance”, which can conceal ingredients that may cause allergies and other health effects.
  • Consult GoodGuide to see if your product of choice contains any chemicals of high risk, such as triclosan, alkyl phenol ethoxylates or ammonium quaternary compounds.
  • Choose products that are efficiently packaged in recyclable containers.
  • Look for cleaning products whose formulations have been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s Design for the Environment program or GreenSeal.
  • You can always make your own cleaners. For example, vinegar and baking soda will unclog a drain.
  • Read more about issues with household cleaners here.
As an added bonus, watch GoodGuide co-founder Dara O’Rourke test some of the most popular “green” cleaners:
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