Your guide to natural and organic living

GoodGuide iPhone application

November 24, 2008

Overview

GoodGuide is a collaboration of academics, technology experts, scientists, industry professionals, consumer researchers and non profit organisations who are working together to make product safety information more accessible to consumers.

They currently have a database of 65,000 personal care and household products which they are aiming to extend to toys, electronics and food in the future.

There are 3 ways to use GoodGuide:

  1. The GoodGuide website
  2. Text messaging service
  3. GoodGuide iPhone app

The one that most interests me at the moment is the iPhone application because I can get to the information wherever I am quickly and easily. So next time I am standing in Whole Foods’ massive body care section umming and aahing about what to buy, I can call on GoodGuide!

GoodGuide icon

The application is free to download from the iTunes app store and only takes a few moments to setup. You will need an apple ID to be able to download it – if you don’t have one, it’s better to sign up for one of your PC/Mac as it can be a bit fiddly on the iPhone.

GoodGuide home screen

Once you have downloaded and launched your application you are greeted by the GoodGuide featured page. From here, you can search for products or brands.

GoodGuide category options

The categories page is handy because it makes products easy to find, but is also good if you want some natural shampoo but don’t know which one.

GoodGuide bad product example

You are in a shop and you have managed to find something you like the look of: using a traffic light colours and a point scoring system, you can see a products impact on your health, the environment and how socially responsible it is. This information is taken to given an overall rating out of 10. I think the fact that the rating is broken down into health, environment and social factors is great because I can see exactly how a product has got it’s rating – the wool can’t pulled over my eyes because it has scored high on environment and social but very badly on health.

GoodGuide product warnings

‘Behind the rating’ gives you a bit more information about why a product has been given a particular rating. Again just enough to read if you are out and about.

GoodGuide options

The ‘ingredients to avoid’ section is a really good idea but I found it a bit confusing to begin with. This section covers ingredients to avoid within a category (e.g shampoo), rather than in individual hair care products (e.g Weleda rosemary shampoo). While this is good for learning what to avoid generally, it means it’s difficult to identify nasties that aren’t in that list.

A colour coded glossary would be very useful because then it wouldn’t matter if the ingredients to avoid were only from a general category – as you could look up as many as you needed to in the glossary.

I tried several times to add products to my avoid and buy lists but the app either crashed when I clicked the button or I got the message “There is a technical problem connecting to out servers. Please try again…”. However, I can log into the GoodGuide website and add products to my lists that way.

Pros:
  • It’s a good way of finding out about a product when you aren’t sat in front of a computer at home. GoodGuide also operate a text messaging service where you can request information. You can also text in a barcode number to get product specific information.
  • It’s free, so you’ve got nothing to lose even if you don’t like it!
  • A really good application for learning about what to avoid in personal care and household products
  • You can share information about products with your friends and family
  • It’s simple and not too information heavy
Cons:
  • The application had a tendency to crash alot, especially when I tried to add items to my buy or avoid lists
  • Ideally, the ingredients to avoid would be specific to a product rather than just a category
  • You have to create an account with GoodGuide to use the application. It would be great if it worked in a similar way to MyEbay – you can have MyEbay for guests which means you can still watch items without logging in and then create an account if you actually want to buy something (or in GoodGuides case, add something to your buy and avoid lists)

Good reads

Let us know what you think