Christmas is almost upon us! That means these next two weeks are going to be filled with last minute trips to the store for those forgotten Christmas dinner ingredients and to cross everyone off our gift giving list.
For those of you shopping for a like minded, non-toxic lifestyle friend or you simply can’t stomach the thought of buying your loved ones anything that contains hazardous ingredients, use these apps when shopping to help you find the cleanest products so you can feel good about the gifts you are giving.
Cellphone Apps to find Non-Toxic Products
This app is my go-to app when it comes to shopping for non-toxic products. The founder, Lily Tse’s, inspiration for creating the app was similar to my own in creating this blog–a family history of cancer. Until cancer turns life upside down, far too many people do not realize the widespread use of toxic chemicals in everyday personal care products including cosmetics, hygiene, and cleaning products.
These chemicals have a massive impact on our health and are far too prevalent in the products we use each and every day. The Think Dirty app is designed to help you shop smarter by allowing you to easily search, browse, or scan the barcode on the product. The app then shows you an over all score from 1-10. The 1-10 “Dirty Meter” scale reveals the potential danger that a products ingredients poses in the categories of carcinogenicity, developmental & reproductive toxicity, and allergies & immunotoxicity. It also gives a color coded list of ingredients, marking which are the most “dirty,” or toxic, and which are considered “clean.”
Unlike some other apps that factor in environmental impact, Think Dirty gives scores that consider only the potential health risks associated with a products ingredients.
Other functions on this app include creating lists of dirty products that you have ruled out, clean products you love, and a “my bathroom shelf” list of products you use frequently. If you are an online shopper, the app also features a shop button on the product review page, so that you can go directly from the app to the online provider when you find a product that matches your clean standards.
The EWG app is produced by The Environmental Working Group, whose mission is to “empower people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment.” The app includes scores for nearly 80,000 personal care and food products, making this a go to whether you are in the cosmetics department or frozen food aisle in the grocery store.
To find products, you can scan the barcode, search by name, or browse by category.
EWG Healthy Living app is marketed as an educational tool for consumers and features a rating system that is similar to Think Dirty. It also uses a color coded 1-10 scale, with products scoring a green 1-2 being the cleanest, yellow 3-6 as moderately hazardous, and the red 7-10 scoring products being the highest hazard based on ingredients.
Like the Think Dirty app, EWG ratings are also focused on health concerns and gives individual ingredient ratings based on allergy, developmental, and cancer concern.
Where EWG goes a step further, is factoring in “data availability” in regard to ingredients. EWG acknowledges that “a product’s low score on the hazard scale doesn’t mean much if scientists know very little about the chemicals in it.” This means your best bet is to go for products that have both a low hazard rating and a high data availability rating. This means that there have been extensive studies proving that the included ingredients are truly not hazardous to your health.
The creators of Good Guide aim to provide consumers with the information they need to make better decisions while shopping. To do this, they “combine manufacturer-provided information about product ingredients with authoritative information on the health effects of chemicals.”
For enviromentally concsious consumers, Good Guide used to be the best option, since its score factored in enviromental impact. However, in 2016 the platform changed to consider products only from a health perspective.
Like Think Dirty and EWG, Good Guide allows consumers to search, scan, or browse for products. The app gives a color coded rating for products and individual ingredients, but the scoring system is quite different from the other two apps.
The good guide scoring system scores products from a low of 0 to a high of 10. Products with the highest rating are the most hazardous to our health and products with scores closer to 0 are considered safer. So in this way, Good Guide flipped the rating scale used by Think Dirty and EWG.
The Good Guide scoring also differs in that it does not break down scores in terms of health concern category (cancer, allergy, developmental). Rather, it provides one overall score and additional scores for data adequacy (like EWG), as well as “other negative aspects” and “ingredient hazards.” Unfortunately, it only provides a score for these categories and does not give details about what are the other negative aspects.
This app does give additional color coding to ingredients, noting not only high, medium, and low concern but also safe use exception, regulatory ban, use restriction, and if there is controversy surrounding the product, which are additional details the other apps don’t include.
Additionally, Good Guide lists the certifications that projects have, such as animal testing, for consumers that wish to consider the welfare of our furry friends while shopping.
So which is best? Think Dirty v. EWG v. Good Guide
So who is the winner? For me, it is a toss up between Think Dirty and EWG. Personally, Think Dirty is my go to app, and if the product is not found, I turn to EWG. It also helps that both of these apps use pretty much the same scoring method, making it easier to jump from one to the other. I stopped using Good Guide due to environmental impact skewing the scores in relation to health, but since their 2016 revision that is not longer an issue.
Overall, Think Dirty and EWG are quite similar. EWG has a larger scope of products scored but does not provide a link to an online source where the product can be purchased, nor does it give the option to create a personal profile or build lists of preferred products.
One area in which EWG is expanding is in developing its own product certification logo, which will soon start appearing on product labels. This label certifies that products avoid all EWG ingredients of concern, honors full transparency when it comes to ingredient lists, and employees good manufacturing practices.
It really comes down to your user face preference, so I recommend downloading each app and seeing which one is most user friendly to you.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is to make sure the products that we use are toxin-free, and each of these apps can certainly help achieve that monumentally important goal.
Happy, clean Christmas shopping!