For consumers craving eco-friendly food, ‘green Yelps’ are here to help

Consumers who want to support eco-friendly businesses have a problem: Apps and services like Yelp, Trip Advisor, Google Maps and others provide overall ratings for businesses but don’t rate their environmental practices. Fortunately, there are other apps for that.

Find Green from Conservation X Labs is one of them. Its founders claim that their app is an easy way to find and promote eco-friendly businesses, but they have an even more ambitious goal — to accelerate widespread shifts toward greener business practices across the world economy. They aim to do this by promoting local businesses that demonstrate such practices.

The app is modeled after other user-interface based rating systems, but will provide a rating of sustainability based on users’ responses to a series of simple questions tied to sustainability: Are plastics straws automatically given to customers? Are eat-in food and drinks served using reusable plates? The responses will form the basis for a rating of one to five green leaves, empowering users to promote businesses that employ more sustainable practices. Over time, the founders intend to create a database of ‘certified’ green businesses that could eventually be incorporated into a more widely used rating app such as Google Maps.

The Find Green app, currently in beta, began testing in Washington, D.C., last year, with a focus on cafes and coffee shops. Since then, they have been surveying all kinds of businesses, from hotels and airlines to flower shops, bars and restaurants. The team intends to expand its coverage to all businesses and service sectors that can be surveyed through easily observable practices, in more cities and communities around the world. And while they are currently pursuing a not-for-profit funding model, they expect to migrate the initiative to a social enterprise or for-profit model to help scale the effort and ensure long term sustainability.

HowGood takes a similar approach to help users find foods that are “sustainable, wholesome and honest.” The app lets users look up any food product in its database of over 200,000 food product ratings by scanning the product’s barcode. It then shows ratings of good, great or best based on benchmarks for growing guidelines, processing practices and company conduct. Foods are also broken down by category (produce, baby food, dairy, etc.) for easy browsing.

Founded in 2007, HowGood is an independent research organization that uses insights from farmers, industry experts, NGOs, scientists, academics and data from over 350 sources to assign its ratings. Their stated mission is to bring transparency to the food industry and support sustainable food production, and they have partnered with grocery stores and brands to provide shoppers with ratings to help them make informed purchasing decisions.

Greenease takes a different approach, connecting chefs and farmers to provide dining recommendations for users based on categories (free range, organic and drug free, to name a few) and distance. It uses Google Maps to show which local restaurants meet the selected criteria. Listings contain photos, Google reviews and contact information as well as a way to contact the developer with updates about any listed business. Additionally, Greenease Business lets chefs update and track their farms and promote specials on the app, and lets farmers log in to list their products and verify who’s buying from them.

With the right technology, the growing demand for eco-friendly products and services could explode. Apps that connect consumers with eco-friendly businesses may add to the success of renewable energy, electric car and organic grocery companies in shifting the world toward a cleaner and greener economy that benefits consumers and businesses alike.

For informational purposes only. EDF does not endorse or promote any specific apps or businesses.

We are entering a new era of environmental innovation that is driving better alignment between technology and environmental goals — and results. #FourthWave

The Fourth Wave

Environmental progress doesn't just happen.

Environmental Defense Fund

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We work with businesses, governments and communities to create lasting solutions to the most serious environmental problems. We’re EDF.

The Fourth Wave

Environmental progress doesn't just happen. It's been propelled by successive waves of innovation, each unleashing powerful new tools: Land conservation. Force of Law. Power of Market-Based Solutions. Today we are seeing the emergence of a Fourth Wave of environmental innovation.

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