Sunday, September 21, 2008

Thousands of socially/eco-conscious items in one place at WorldofGood.com

Looking for products that are fair trade, environmentally friendly, support a cause, or mesh with your values in other ways? Tired of searching through dozens of individual websites that each only have a small selection? Enter WorldofGood.com, formed in partnership between eBay and a fair trade company, which is already listing nearly 10,000 products.

I was a little hesitant of the idea given the eBay angle, but I'm actually really liking WorldofGood.com. Not only is it incredibly convenient to have so many items in one place, but they're doing a terrific job of displaying (and letting you search based on) the social and environmental impacts of the products, and they seem to have a good method to ensuring that sellers and products are on the up-and-up.

There are two unique features attached to every WorldofGood listing: Trustology and Goodprint. Trustology is a listing of the independent organizations that have verified the seller and/or product-- groups like TransFair which certify a product is fair trade, or Rainforest Alliance which certifies on environmental and social standards, or Co-op America which certifies that the business or organization is deeply committed to social and environmental standards, or more than a dozen other groups. If a seller hasn't been verified by at least one WorldofGood-approved Trust Provider, they can't sell on WorldofGood; the Trustology box in an item's listing will show all applicable Trust Providers, and you can also search by Trust Provider.

Goodprint fills in the details of the social and environmental impacts of the products. There are four big categories (People Positive, Eco Positive, Animal Friendly, Supports a Cause) and subcategories within those (for example, "economic empowerment" and "preserving tradition" are two of the options within People Positive, while Animal Friendly could mean "animal welfare" or "species preservation.") And when you get to an item's page, you can delve even deeper-- there are thirty different detailed statements that can be associated with each product! These range from "Producer receives more than 75% of the retail price" to "Made in a producer-owned cooperative" to "Green energy fulfills 50% of required energy" to "From 100% sustainably harvested materials" to "No animal harmed, no animal testing, no animal ingredients." I love the level of detail here (although I wish you could actually search by these statements, rather than just by category and subcategory.)

Now, the Goodprint statements are not individually verified in any way, which is unfortunate, but it's probably unrealistic to expect otherwise. But nothing's stopping you from doing your own research, plus you can look at the certifications in the Trustology box to ease your mind-- those organizations may not vouch for individual Goodprint statements, but knowing what a third party guarantees is true helps you give the benefit of the doubt on the further details they put forward.

As I mentioned, you can search by Trust Provider and/or Goodprint category or subcategory; you can also search by type of item, price, and/or the region where it was produced. (Products are sold at fixed prices, not auctioned like on eBay, FYI.) WorldofGood also has a Community section where buyers, sellers, and Trust Providers can create profiles, write blogs, and post articles-- there's some activity there but it seems kind of slow to me, but maybe things will pick up over time.

All things considered, I'm pretty excited about the new site, both personally and more broadly. Personally, I think it's going to make my holiday shopping much easier! And more broadly, I think (or at least hope) that the all-in-one-place convenience will encourage more people to give it a whirl and consider social and environmental factors in their buying decisions. Plus the eBay connection can help spread the idea of conscious consuming to new eyes, since WorldofGood listings get cross-posted on eBay (and supposedly eBay's promoting WorldofGood on the main site, although I couldn't find anything on a quick look today.)

Have you looked at WorldofGood? What do you think of the set-up? Do you think it'll make you and/or others more likely to buy products that are in tune with your values?

3 comments:

sharon kinsella said...

I'm surprised you're showing an ad for M&M's while talking about Fair Trade.

They are not made with Fair Trade chocolate.

Children are enslaved on the Ivory Coast, harvest cocoa. They're beaten and starved and they day.

I'm a chocolate fiend but I only do fair trade chocolate now.

Julie said...

I agree that fair trade is important, and I love this list of items, I definitely will use worldofgood.com - but I also think that it's every consumers responsibility to do the research about eco-conscious products yourself! I thought I would add a product to the list though: ShoreBank offers a High-Yield Savings Account with 3.50% APY. How is a savings account socially/eco-conscious? Well, it's both. ShoreBank uses the money saved in its accounts to do socially responsible and eco-friendly lending. There's a great story about them creating green collar jobs, here: http://shorebankdirect.sbk.com/stories/indie_energy.asp and there's more info about the account on that site as well.

Lauren Stower said...

Thanks for posting this important news! Way to go World of Good!!