Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Greenscan Your Groceries

Both Sarah Rich at WorldChanging and Chris Schults at Gristmill have posts up on GreenScanner, a web-based app. for tapping into public opinions on "the environmental friendliness of various products." Type in a UPC code, and receive people's ratings of the product on a 1-5 scale, as well as any comments they leave. It's designed to be used with network-enabled mobile devices so you can check up on an item's eco-ratings right in the store. The optimist and the skeptic in my nature both jumped onto my shoulders immediately. The optimist agreed with Sarah's point that "'s up to us to build up the arsenal of consumer reports. The service will become more effective the more we contribute our own opinions to it. Collaborative networked technology for choosing better groceries!" The skeptic screamed back, "What the hell does the average consumer know about the environmental friendliness of a box of Cheerios?" As someone who really likes the idea of wikis and other types of user-created information repositories, I'm going to stick with the optimist. What would be very cool, though, is if the database also included facts on a product's environmental impact -- I simply can't imagine putting that together, though... Thoughts?

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