10 Tools to Help You Find More Ethical Products

by Marsha Rakestraw

From the time we arise in the morning until we fall asleep, we participate in a continuous cycle of using stuff that affects ourselves, other people, animals, and the planet.

And during holidays our consumption of stuff tends to jump.

We do what we can to buy products that do more good and less harm, but it can be a real challenge to find out the details of how these gadgets and goodies that we buy to meet our wants and needs are produced, transported, and disposed of and whether the secret lives of our stuff reflect our deepest values.

Industry and government often don’t make it easy to find out.

But more companies and organizations are creating online tools that offer information about companies — and their products — to help us make decisions that better reflect our care and concern for a just, compassionate world.

Here are 10 tools that can help us find products that cause less harm and do more good for people, animals, and the earth.

1. Buycott
The Buycott app is designed to help citizens avoid buying products from companies with practices that don’t reflect their values, and to support campaigns and companies that do. Users sign up to support certain campaigns. And then, as the website says, “When you use Buycott to scan a product, it will look up the product … and figure out what company owns that brand …. It will then cross-check the product owners against the companies and brands included in the campaigns you’ve joined, in order to tell you if the scanned product conflicts with one of your campaign commitments.”
Available for iOS and Android. Free download.

2. Ethical Consumer
Based in the UK, this website (which also produces a magazine) offers ratings on products, as well as news, campaigns, and information about doing more good and less harm for people, animals, and the planet. (Note: Some parts are only available w/ subscription.)

3. Good Guide
Good Guide offers the “world’s largest and most reliable source of information on the health, environmental, and social impacts of the products in your home.” They provide ratings for more than 75,000 products.

4. Good On You
This app rates more than 1,000 fashion brands on their impact on people, animals, and the earth.

5. The Good Shopping Guide
Primarily focused on serving people in the UK, this guide offers ratings for a variety of products, using social and environmental criteria.

6. Leaping Bunny
Find out about cruelty-free products and see which companies don’t test their cosmetic and household products on animals.

7. Rank a Brand
Primarily serving people in the Netherlands, this guide ranks a variety of brands on their sustainability.

8. Responsible Shopper
From Green America, you can use this ethical consumerism tool to look up specific products and companies and learn about their effects, both positive and negative, on other people, other species, and the environment, as well as get ideas for taking action to help companies become more socially responsible.

9. Shop Ethical
Based in Australia, the website includes a guide and app that rates “the environmental and social track record of the companies behind common brands.” The site also includes basic information about selected global ethical issues, guides for greener electronics and clothing, and more.

10. Think Dirty App
Swipe the barcode of a cosmetic or personal care product, and if it’s in the database, the Think Dirty app will offer information about the product, its ingredients, and possible healthier alternatives.

Resources like these can also be useful for helping students explore the True Price of certain products.

Be sure to forward this to at least ONE person who would benefit from this resource.