Being sustainable or socially responsible is a hot topic these days. Companies publish glossy Sustainability Reports and consumers have started to look for labels that indicate whether something is fair trade, organic or natural. While these issues are important and deserve our attention, the lack of standards means it is difficult to sort through all the available information and make informed decisions. Sometimes it feels like in order to do no harm you can never leave your house.
In an effort to tackle one area at a time, I tend to focus on food. What can be more important than ensuring that what you put in your body is as natural and safe as nature intended it? Lifehacker has a great article called “The Common Sense Guide to Organic and Other Food Labels” that helps differentiate between the different categories and labels.
The Good Guide lets you research any product you are thinking about buying for how it performs on the issues important to you–whether it’s apparel, food, cars, or appliances. However, it often doesn’t occur to me to look something up at the time of purchase. That’s why my new favorite download for chrome (it also works for firefox) is their new Transparency Toolbar. When you are on a retail site, like Amazon, it just appears from the bottom of your screen with a personalized analysis based on the issues you’ve told it you care about most. Pretty neat–and it makes being green a whole lot easier.
The other great online tool I’ve recently discovered is from a company called energysage. I’ve actually been doing some consulting work for them recently, which is how I got to know them. They have a wizard that walks you through a much bigger purchase–whether or not buying a renewable energy system for your home makes sense. It’s still in beta, but it’s a space with a lot of promise due to a lack of information and transparency in the space. It’s definitely a company to watch.