Saturday, June 14, 2008

Search companies' social/environmental records and urge them to improve: visit Responsible Shopper

Looking for information on the social and environmental records of companies? Want to know what you can do to try to change some of their bad practices? Then check out Responsible Shopper, a new website from the ever-helpful Co-op America (the folks who bring you the outstanding National Green Pages, a huge directory of businesses that they've screened for social and environmental responsibility.)

There's a lot to love about the site. Responsible Shopper has info on hundreds of companies-- you can look them up by name, or you can see them grouped into more than two dozen industries. And for each industry, the companies are given letter grades in a range of different areas (environment, human rights, labor, ethics and governance, health and safetey) and are ranked from best to worst within the industry. When you click through to each company page, you can read a quick summary at the top (including the good, if applicable, as well as the bad) and then a list of the problematic behaviors they're involved in, including links to more information.

But the other great thing is that the pages connect you directly to actions you can take to get companies to change their ways. They appear in the profiles and you can jump to an industry-specific list of campaigns from the industry page. (You can also go to a list of all the actions here, sorted by issue category, such as environment or human rights.) There's over a hundred of them-- it's pretty awesome, and I can't wait to start making my way through the list, learning about the campaigns and taking the actions (mostly but not exclusively sending e-mails to corporate decision-makers.)

You can also click through to their "Go Green" section for each industry, which includes tips (i.e. the Fast Food one talks about packing lunch, eating at local restaurants and asking them for local/fair trade/organic choices, and reading books about food and sustainability; the Banking one talks about community development banks and credit unions) and links people through to the National Green Pages where they can find screened socially and environmentally-responsible companies.

The only major drawback for me is that I can't find an account of the methodology they use to do their rankings of companies. I trust the organization so I'm confident that they have a good one, but they need to have it more prominently accessible so everyone can understand it! I'm chalking this up to the site being not-quite-finished (it doesn't officially debut until July), and I bet they'll have that up soon.

But all told, this is a pretty fantastic resource. The company info is great, and I just know I'm going to spend hours clicking through all the actions (and maybe bringing some of them back here to share with all of you!) If you're even vaguely interested in the social and environmental responsibility of companies, I'd urge you to check it out.

What do you think of the site? Do you try to take companies' records on social and environmental responsibility into account? What sources of information do you use?

(Read more on How and why to express your values to companies and other posts about being a conscious consumer.)

1 comment:

Greener Pastures said...

Great article! I devoted a post to it as well. I agree, they really did a great job.