Title: GoodGuide

Cost: Free

Platform: iOS and Android

Last minute teen shoppers need not worry their consumer consciences, the GoodGuide app allows users to identify the health, social, and environmental impact of a gift before they buy. Using the RedLaser product database, the app provides multiple access mechanisms to pull up particular items, including a keyword search, a menu-driven directory (including personal care, household cleaners, and food) and, most expediently, a barcode scanner function using the device camera.


From cell phones to cat food, each entry provides handily colored-coded scores in the areas of Health, Environment, and Society. Health caveats include ingredients which have raised concerns in humans, while the Society and Environment areas consider corporate policies and practices as rated by the GoodGuide team. Any applicable manufacturer credentialing is reflected, and when relevant, nutritional information is listed. Most helpfully, it offers alternative products with better ratings.

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The app features link to the GoodGuide blog (they are also on twitter), and connecting with the GoodGuide community enables you to create mobile lists and personalized concerns which will trigger red flags when you search implicated products. Criteria includes preferences for recycled materials, organic food, fragrance-free products, companies which practice resource conservation and fair trade, or manufacturers mitigating climate change and pollution. For those with particular allergies and sensitivities, users can flag ingredients from the individual product views to avoid a substance of concern.

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A mobile interface to the GoodGuide site, the app is one way to access the consumer awareness project, a brainchild of a professor of environmental and labor policy at the University of California, Berkeley. GoodGuide, with its dual goal of raising ‘ buyer consciousness while allowing companies to contextualize their own practices within their industries, was named one of Fast Company’s 100 Most Innovative Companies in 2010.

GoodGuide promises to “find out whether or not your purchases meet your personal standards.” For those buying consumer products for those on their holiday lists, the app offers potential to make holiday or daily shopping a little less non-toxic.

For more great apps for teens and the librarians that serve them, check out the archive.

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