A Swedish IT start-up is behind BadBuster, a new plug-in (currently only for Internet Explorer, soon for Firefox) that gives an environmental score to 650 of the largest multinational firms, in the form of a 1-100 number rating. Thus each time your cursor comes upon a company - Hewlett-Packard for example - a pop-up bubble shows the company's environmental rating (HP's is 73) as well as a link back to BadBuster. In addition, as you surf, company names will be highlighted in green, red, or yellow to show relative environmental 'correctness' (HP gets green).Badbuster says its purpose is to save the world by getting corporations to walk the walk as well as just talk the talk in advertising. Badbuster uses as many independent sources as possible - usually at least two or three - to reach a company's average rating. Yet there's a certain confrontational Greenpeace-style activism to the BadBusters approach - Greenpeace's Guide to Green Electronics is one source for the ratings - which isn't necessarily the best for fomenting change. Big companies like to work with non-profits, such as the Nature Conservancy which help them strategically plan sustainability initiatives, and shy away from the organizations that they perceive as attacking them.
On the other hand, BadBusters is a free, at-a-glance way to see and be reminded how companies you may buy from on a regular basis are doing compared to their peers. It's good to view in one place how a variety of sources judge a company's efforts. And perhaps a site like BadBusters will help dispel that terrible myth that we as consumers determine (and deserve) the green products currently available. We all know that just can't be the case. A new study from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency (Swedish) just found 82 percent of respondents willing to pay 5% more for climate-friendly products. But the difference seems to be that most consumers don't want to go out of their way to have to track down green goods...they want the products they already use to get greener. What would be great would be making BadBusters more interactive, so that consumers could provide instant and continuous net-based feedback to the companies they buy from. Via ::BadBuster (English)