Conversations on Transparency

Over the last decade of conducting research on these issues, I have ended up mainly talking to a few other academics (and talking to myself on occasion;) about the sometimes arcane details of global supply chains.

However, since launching GoodGuide, we have realized we have created a platform of sorts for conversations with a wide range of stakeholders on these issues – and in particular – on debates about transparency in the marketplace.

We are now hearing directly from thousands of our users. In fact, we have been a bit overwhelmed by the richness of the feedback and input from our users. So we are now building better ways to receive ideas and to respond to them. The great news on this is that people really want to know more about the products they are using. We are learning a lot about the issues the public cares most about, what products they want us to rate next, and where our information is not clear enough.

We have also been having some very interesting conversations with academics, non-profit organizations, and leaders from industry. This has led to some new collaborations and partnerships to get better information out to the public. For instance, we just partnered with ClimateCounts.org to flow their information on the climate policies and practices of companies that produce the goods we consume.

We have also been having some interesting conversations with reporters. I was just interviewed for TechNation today, which should be aired on NPR stations around the US in the coming week. I also recently got to sit down with Daniel Goleman to talk about the science and rating systems behind GoodGuide. It is rare these days to ever get to talk in detail beyond soundbites in the media. So it was a real pleasure to dig into some of details of GoodGuide and broader movements for transparency in the marketplace. You can download our interview, called Ecological Awareness, and check out other great interviews between Daniel and Greg Norris and Michael Lerner.

What I think all of these conversations are showing is that we are at the beginning of a potentially very rich conversation between consumers, manufacturers, retailers, and other stakeholders in these supply chains. We would love to expand and facilitate this dialogue as we build GoodGuide. So please let us know how you think we can do a better job of supporting these conversations on transparency.

About Dara O'Rourke

Associate Professor at UC Berkeley and Co-Founder of GoodGuide.
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11 Responses to Conversations on Transparency

  1. Dara,

    So glad that GoodGuide is being embraced! And, if talking to yourself has led you to this moment in time, then.. keep the conversation flowing! 😉

    We absolutely love what you are doing–your work helps the world to make informed choices. Transparency is essential…and we look forward to engaging with you!

    Best,

    Coretta Jackson, MBA
    @corettajackson
    @businessethos

  2. Kenneth L. Williamson says:

    How can you possibly give a high rating to a sunscreen that claims to be "Chemical-Free"? Do you presume that the readers of this site are so ill-informed that they would buy a product with that claim? Why do you promote such claims? Should you not have a listing of "Impossible claims" or "Stupid claims"? This listing removes all your credibility.

    K. L. Williamson, Prof of chemistry, emeritus
    Mount Holyoke College

    The last time I looked these ingredients are chemicals: Titanium Dioxide 6.83% Inactive Ingredients: Water, Hemp Seed Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Wheatgrass Extract, Ricegrass Extract, Stoneroot Extract, Glucose, Sucrose Distearate, Sucrose Stearate, Calendula Extract, Golden Seal Extract, Witch Hazel Extract, Comfrey Extract, Xanthum Gum, Sodium Borate, Lecithin, Silica, Acacia Gum, Alginic Acid, Orange Oil, Amyris Oil, Copaiba Balsam Oil, Patchouli Oil, Sandalwood Oil, Guaiacwood Oil, Aluminum Hydroxide, Fragrance, Glucose Oxidase & Lactoperoxidase.* * Stearic Acid = Vegetable Fat Aluminum Hydroxide = Natural Mineral Glucose Oxidase & Lactoperoxidase = Natural Preservative Titanium Dioxide = Natural Sunscreen

  3. thatgirlinnewyork says:

    hats off for creating this invaluable resource! as an american who regularly tries to hunt down the ingredients in our foods, personal care products, and domestic products, i hope this elicits more transparency from american product companies.

    it’s maddening that we only test consumer products after they’ve failed people. so-called "independent testing" by these companies are anything but thorough, and the FDA has never been empowered to do much to protect us. hence, we eschew products from clorox, j&j, kraft, and others for often more expensive (and pre-market tested!) products from abroad, or otherwise independent manufacturers who fully disclose ingredients.

    this idea that product formulas should be "proprietary" is rubbish. why is the government more vested in protecting corporations over people/taxpayers? perhaps these selfsame corporations would pay far less in product liability defense/litigation if they made responsible products, instead of defending bottles and tubes full of toxicity.

    don’t believe the hype, people!

  4. Dara, we’re commited to bringing transparency to the fore here in the UK with our innovative ecologically focussed ethics led business. As a carbon balanced producer of one of the purest mineral water brands available anywhere, our low carbon impact paper carton bottle is rocking the boat in the conventional ‘bottled water’ world.
    Question is whether the good guide is looking to rate products on an international scale or if you have a specific US focus?
    sincerely
    Neil T (http://aquapax.wordpress.com/)

  5. tl says:

    Would like to see Good Guide ratings on products carried by Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. As I become less inclined to shop at mass retailers like Ralph’s or Kroger or Meijer, it would be good to know whether products at TJ’s or WF’s measure up to their healthy image.

  6. JMC says:

    As a company that’s committed to being as healthy and sustainable as possible, we applaud you and your monumental efforts to keep consumers informed. Thank you! And btw, we featured you in our blog today!!

    http://josiemarancosmetics.typepad.com/

    Josie Maran Cosmetics

  7. diego says:

    i’m reading daniel goleman book " ecological intelligence" and i find out good guide….

    By reading about goodguide on that book i was thinking…

    First off all everything coul be fine only if all the actors plying in "good guide" MUST be absolutely honest in deep .

    This way to lead people sounds tome a new way to make money… if good guide will become famous a lot of industry will pay to be in thier green list….
    In italy we say "is the ocacsion that makes a men a thieft" and here i can see a really big occasion to make money…..

    After that the idea is great!!!!!

    Does goodguide work only in the states????

  8. Lyon says:

    Dara- Good to see that there is a continuing conversation on these important issues. Glad we could be a part of it.
    -Lyon Graulty
    More Than Sound

  9. Mary Helen Garoutte says:

    I am so grateful for this recent addition to helping the public keep track of environmental issues and how they can effect the products we purchase in our everyday life. I truly believe this idea of improving our health and the environment we live in, by having an influence on the companies we buy from to effect the bottom line of these companies and encourage them to have better practices is a very good thing. I have one question however; I have made a number of requests asking about the Melaleuca company ratings and never get a reply. I would just like to know if there has been an effort to check into this company or not. I understand if you are it will probably take time, but I just would like to know one way or another. Thank you, Mary Helen Garoutte/maryheleng@eoni.com

  10. Aloha Dara, I’m psyched about what you’re doing here. Transparency can make such a difference to peoples’ informed choice. What I’m noticing in your rating system that mirrors some of my experience is that the ‘greenest’ products are not rated well for customer satisfaction. It is sometimes hard to sell friends on the ecologically friendly products I use because they don’t perform their intended function as well as more chemically-based products. This is going to be a MAJOR hurdle to overcome. Can you tell me your thoughts on customer satisfaction as it relates to ecological well-being? Thanks from Maui, Melanie

  11. Kelsey says:

    Just wanted to give my vote to some ingredient formulas remaining proprietary. It costs a fortune to devote the resources to the research necessary to create safer products. Why would someone give it up to those whom for decades have been negligent in protecting the consumer? Not only that, but not everything has to be organic in order for it to be acceptable for use. It’s nice when it is, but sometimes it’s just not economically feasible to do so.

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