App watch: The OpenLabel Project (iOS, Android)

If you’ve ever read reviews on Yelp.ca about a dentist, restaurant or hair salon in your neighbourhood, you’ll know that such a service is tremendously handy. Same goes for product reviews on Amazon. Sure, one or two might be off but read enough reviews and a reasonably clear portrait emerges.That’s kind of how The OpenLabel Project app operates, but with a focus on the sustainability of consumable products – anything, really, that carries a bar code. There are other apps out there that rate product sustainability, such as GoodGuide, but that’s where similarities end.
When users of GoodGuide take a picture of a product bar code with their mobile device, they are given an environmental, social and health score determined by GoodGuide, based on its own analysis of publicly available information.

OpenLabel users also take pictures of bar codes, but instead of being given a score determined by a third party, they are shown reviews from other people who have used that product. They can also submit a review themselves, adding to the collective and up-to-date wisdom of the crowd. Such reviews – called “labels” – can include links to articles and other sources, such as GoodGuide’s own ratings.



The objective of OpenLabel is to bring “radical transparency” to the products we use and consume. “By creating a centralized place for people and organizations to share environmental, political, social, animal, and health and safety information, the OpenLabel Project will make commerce more transparent, and help consumers make smarter, more responsible choices,” its website states.


So far, more than 20 million products from over 14,000 brands are in the OpenLabel database. Obviously, the success of this product depends on how many people use and contribute to it, but with more than 135,000 reviews it’s off to a good start.

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