Are you a savvy shopper? Lately, its been taking longer to get through the isles of the grocery store. If you're like me, you stop to read the labels. I need that quick summary of what each item contains, where it came from, and what the impact will be on my family's health and the environment. Then I have to figure out if I believe the company's claims. It is an arduous task, but worth it for my body and the planet.
Wouldn't it be nice if we could rate other types of products? Not just those perched on grocery shelves. For instance, I want to know what the social and environmental implications of the furniture, clothing, appliances and even the sheets and towels I buy are. What are the "people" issues, such as how the workers were treated? Also, the "planet" issues such as waste management and the treatment of animals?
We may be getting closer to answering some of those questions. I recently read about Project Label on the Springwise website. Hoping to bring the same transparency to non-food companies, Project Label creates "social nutrition" labels for shoppers who want to track manufacturers' social and environmental responsibility.
Here's how Project Label works:
Each company listed on the Project Label website gets a ranking similar to a nutrition label. Unlike traditional nutrition labels, Project Label relies on all of us - the consumers to weigh the evidence that goes into its rankings. The organization provides simple tools that allow consumers, businesses and organizations to add, discuss and vote on news, media and research that contain information relevant to the company and its labels.
Project Label's categories are divided into three main sections: Person, People and Planet with sub-categories. The "Person" category describes the products impact on an individual's health, nutrition, and safety. The "People" category describes what impact the product has on a social and community level. The environmental impact is indicated in the "Planet" category.
The sub categories are:
After reading over the website, my only skeptical question was, "Why should I trust these labels?" Here is Project Label's answer:
In short, you shouldn't. Project Label is designed to be completely transparent about how our labels are created. Though we strive for accuracy, we encourage our users to examine, criticize, and improve the quality of our data. We provide (and continue to add) the mechanisms in which users can analyze, add, manipulate, and discuss the information that builds our labels
What do you think? In the near future, will you be standing in a furniture store, reading the label on a new chair and be able to tell if the workers who created the chair were treated fairly, and what the effects of that particular chair on environment will be?
by NYTimes Magazine