Friday, February 01, 2008


I recently came across the site EVO. I have been looking for a way to compare the environmental friendliness of products (similar to how I use CNET to compare electronic products) and EVO allows just that. They rate clothes, body and household products on a 1-5 leaf 'EVO rating' based on their environmental impact. More information about what EVO is all about can be found in this TreeHugger interview of their CEO.

While I like the concept, I think it needs a little refinement before I would use it.

First, it is not clear what they are basing their rating on. Why did one product get 2 leafs and another 4? They list lots of attributes that they base the rating such as energy efficient, organic, fair trade and lead-free, but they don't specifically say why each product got the rating it did. Environmental rankings are subjective, and I would like more information on exactly how why they ranked one product higher than another. If they made their analysis of the product available, this would make the recommendation much more valuable.

Second, when you are looking at a product, it would be helpful if they listed other products similar to it that have a higher EVO rating. Then you could easily compare products based on their environmental impact and find more environmentally friendly substitutions for products you are looking to buy.

Third, I wish they would allow user comments and rankings of products. Often times at CNET I find the user rankings to be more valuable than the CNET ranking. Users can help add information about a product that the site reviewers miss.

Fourth, what I would really like is if they made the information available via a plugin. Then when you are shopping at Amazon and other online shops, you could see the EVO rating of the product along with similar products that have a higher rating. I sketched out this envrionmental shopping plugin idea earlier.

I like the attempt this site is making, and hope that they make these changes so I can start using it to make more environmentally friendly purchases.

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