Last week Consumer Reports launched a brand new iPhone and iPad app that deciphers ecolabels for consumers. It provides users with key information about how robust the labels they see on products are, allowing green conscious shoppers to minimize their environmental impact. It also gives consumers information about environmental claims like ‘natural’ and ‘organic’. It is available in the iTunes store.
The app is a mobile version of Consumer Reports’ www.greenerchoices.org, a platform of information about ecolabels and environmentally friendly products as well as green shopping tips and the best practices for recycling harmful products like electronics.
This development is another major milestone for the environmental certification sector. While many consumers are aware of ecolabels and their varying degrees of validity, few consumers know specifically which labels are the most robust. With this app, shoppers will not need to do background research and remember the components of various labels. All they need to do is bring their phone with them when they go to the grocery store.
This app is an important step in increasing the transparency of production and convenience for shoppers. However, it is still unlikely that this development will produce widespread changes in consumption patterns. Downloading the app requires consumers to be predisposed to buying ecolabeled products. For major transformations to occur, consumers that currently do not consider the environmental implications of what they buy must be gradually taught to do so. Shoppers have to be bombarded with messages about the importance of green purchasing before major consumption shifts occur.