What is greenwashing, and how can I avoid it? These are questions that people new to their go-green journey may be asking themselves. Thankfully, those of us with an iPhone or even an iPod Touch or a new iPad have our choice of several different apps that can help us navigate the world of greenwashing. According to the online version of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, greenwashing is defined as, “expressions of environmentalist concerns especially as a cover for products, policies, or activities.” Essentially, greenwashing is when a company claims its product, service or even business model is environmentally friendly, but it really is not so. Although Merriam-Webster dates the word greenwashing back to 1989, it has only recently become a frequently used word. Now that you know what greenwashing is, you may be asking yourself how to avoid it. Unfortunately, avoiding greenwashed products is not nearly as easy as defining the term. While there are a variety of watchdog organizations that have goals of uncovering greenwashing, the data isn’t always consumer friendly. To help conquer this divide, a bevy of iPhone apps have been created. There is an iPhone app for nearly every purpose, navigating the confusing world of greenwashing included. One of my personal favorites is GoodGuide. The iPhone app is a companion to the GoodGuide website and provides consumers a quick and easy way to determine if a given product can truly live up to its claims. Imagine yourself in the grocery store. You have pledged to be more environmentally conscious, but you’re trying to decide between five different bags of organic pretzels. They’re all organic, so they should all be better for the environment, right? Not necessarily. GoodGuide rates not only the nutritional content of each of these bags of pretzels, but also rates the product based on the company’s environmental and societal impacts. The GoodGuide database assesses more than 70,000 food, toy, personal care and household products. I use the app regularly, and have yet to find a not-so-green product mislabeled as eco-friendly. However, I haven’t had a chance to get through all 70,000 plus entries just yet. Another app that I use often is Find Green from GenGreen Digital Media. The app uses the iPhone’s GPS feature to locate an environmentally responsible business near you. You first choose an industry, select the type of establishment within that industry and then choose whether you want to search walking, biking or driving distance. For example, if I’m looking for food, I can choose food and dining. Then I can select grocers and then choose biking distance. The closest grocer to me is about 1.5 miles, but it is not exactly environmentally responsible. If I want an environmentally conscious grocer, I’ll need to bike nearly 10 miles. Although that example isn’t exactly convenient, I live in the boonies. The app, on the other hand, is extremely convenient. Since it uses GPS to make recommendations, you can take it with you on vacation. If you’re at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta and want to eat at an eco-conscious restaurant, Find Green will help you. What I like about these two applications is that there is a screening process that each product, company, etc. must go through before being registered in the system. While Find Green only shares eco-friendly businesses, GoodGuide helps everyday consumers wade through some of today’s most popular green myths — all-natural, organic, environmentally friendly and so on.
iPhone Apps to Help Navigate the World of Greenwashing
Apple’s app store features useful apps that can help you live the greenest ways possible.