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GoodGuide: An Experiment in Advancing Transparency in Consumer Markets

  • Dara O'Rourke

With what now seem like almost weekly product scandals, recalls, and supply chain exposes, the public increasingly wants to know more about the products they are putting in, on, and around their families. Until recently, consumers had no way to find out the full impacts of the products they consumed. However, with advances in information technologies, product assessment methodologies, and web and mobile platforms, there is now a real potential to radically increase transparency in consumer markets and global supply chains. Dara O'Rourke, Associate Professor at UC Berkeley, will discuss an experiment in providing information to the public about the environmental, social, and health impacts of products and companies: GoodGuide. GoodGuide's award-winning web and iPhone apps have been featured recently in the New York Times, Newsweek, Time, and even Oprah's Magazine! Dara will discuss GoodGuide's long-term vision, current strategies, and the information technologies they are applying to this challenge.

Dara O’Rourke is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and the co-founder of GoodGuide. Dara’s research focuses on systems for monitoring the environmental, labor, and health impacts of global production systems. His research has been featured in The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The Economist, Business Week, Newsweek, Time, and TechCrunch. Dara has served as a consultant to international organizations such as the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and a wide range of domestic and international non-governmental organizations. He has degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Political Science, and Energy and Resources, and he previously taught at MIT.

GoodGuide seeks to revolutionize how consumers see and interact with products and companies. GoodGuide provides a suite of tools that offer information about the environmental, social, and health performance of products and companies to consumers at the point of purchase (through web and mobile apps), and that empower people to screen and compare products based on their personal values and concerns. GoodGuide's tools seek to empower millions of consumers to buy products that better match their values, to avoid products that are detrimental to their health, the environment, or issues they care about, and to participate in a more transparent marketplace.