The Elusive Silver Bullet

It would be great if we had a silver bullet to solve the environmental, health, and social ills faced by society. As much as I wish GoodGuide was this silver bullet, it would be naive to believe that our service could be a stand alone solution to all the problems we have to address. While it provides mountains of information about individual products (therefore having the potential to be incredibly transformative), GoodGuide can only be effective if individuals meet us in the middle. Here’s why.

First, it’s impossible to predict human behavior. There’s no way my colleagues and I know how many serving sizes you’ll eat of those chips or whether you use cold water when washing clothes. We can only guide you to better choices, and then the ball is in your court. Soon, it’ll be much easier to personalize GoodGuide with the specific issues you’re most concerned about. However, there’s a difference between helping you find products that reflect your values and measuring how you act – it’ll be a while before GoodGuide ratings can be malleable enough to incorporate behaviors like the ones described above.

Second, consumption is an inevitable part of our lifestyles. It is, without a doubt, best to limit consumption. With that in mind, GoodGuide is a tool that people can use to be healthier, lower their environmental impact, and improve social conditions by shopping for products in categories they choose. The decision to spend money on that category to begin with isn’t really up to us – it’s up to you. A good example of this is reflected in cars: We can tout the better environmental rating for smart cars until we’re blue in the face, but there will always be individuals who want SUVs.

That last reason brings me to my final point. Each of us has a different perspective on whether and how to be healthier, greener, and socially aware. Some folks make their own household cleaners, and others just aren’t willing to give up their chocolate chip cookies. A silver bullet is hard to find because we’re all starting from different points when it comes to becoming more conscious about our shopping habits. It’s important to understand these differences, especially when we’re trying to build consensus and encourage everyone to change. GoodGuide’s ready to help you move one foot forward. Are you ready to move the other foot?

About Sheila Viswanathan

Sheila Viswanathan focuses on educating individuals on how to make healthier dietary choices. She received her doctoral degree in Nutrition and Public Health from Teachers College, Columbia University and is certified as a registered dietitian.
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