I try very hard to post in-depth product reviews here, and at all my other sites, that cover all the pros and cons along with suggestions from me about who should and should not consider buying the product. I think it’s worth my time to write good reviews because they’re more helpful for families who read them.
The fine print: Take any reviews you read with a grain of salt, including mine. I’m just one girl with one opinion. Do research before you buy and leave comments on my reviews if you think I left something out.
My basic review criteria
If you’re trying to go green or save money, it helps to have some product criteria in place that you can use to make consumer decisions. There’s too many overpriced products out there and lots of greenwashing going on.
Over the years I’ve developed my own eco-product criteria that I use when choosing products to buy or when I post a review. Below is that criteria in short form to fit the type of products I review here – see my longer criteria list at Growing a Green Family.
Criteria that applies to all the products I review
- Safety: Is the product safe? Toxic? Questionable? Will I let my own son use it?
- Why: Is it useful and/or a necessity? Or is the product just something fun I want (um, lip gloss).
- Packaging: Is the packaging necessary, excessive, recyclable, reusable? Does it carry a recycling reminder?
- Price: Is the product affordable for the average family? I’m a single mama, so my definition of “affordable” is set pretty low BTW.
- Worth vs. price: Does the product pay for itself or is it worth the price?
- Availability: Can I actually find the product easily locally or online?
- Value: Does it do what it’s supposed to do? Is it made to last?
- Website: If the product or company has a website, is it easy or super obnoxious to manage?
- Comparison: Is the product better or as good as its conventional non-green peers?
- Greenwashing: Is the product green, greenish, or outright greenwashing?
Company criteria I use for all products
- Is the company ethical and green as a whole? I.e. do they have all green products or one lost in a sea of eco-baddie products? Clorox GreenWorks is a good example of this – yeah, they make one green brand, but it’s among many bleach infused products. I’m not down with that.
- Did the company just recently go green or have they been walking the talk for a while?
- Do they test on animals? Do they carry the Leaping Bunny symbol or other cruelty-free certification?
- What sort of green policies does the company follow? Do they recycle, use renewable energy, have a paperless office, etc.
- Do they disclose all information about their products (ingredients, uses, etc.) on both the packaging and website AND was it easy or hard for me to find that information.
- If I have a product question do they actually get back to me? Are they nice? Helpful? Snotty?
- If I write a negative review of the company do they get back to me with ideas about making changes or do they attack me? Note, I’ve been known to go back and lower review scores when companies attack me.
Specific ice pop mold criteria
- Is the entire mold set reusable? This means it must have reusable handles. If you have to buy sticks to use molds, it will knock the score down a point or two.
- What are the molds made of? Plastic, BPA-free plastic, silicone, etc. Are the materials safe?
- Can you wash the molds in the dishwasher?
- Are the molds made with quality and are they long-lasting?
- Do pops slide out of the molds easily?
- Can kids use these molds easily without parent help?
- Are the molds single-serve or attached?
- Does the set have drip guards? How well do the drip guards work?
- Is the design user-friendly or weird? For example, some molds have really wacky shapes that make it hard to munch.
- Are the handles comfortable to hold? Too skinny? Too fat?
Extra criteria for edibles
- Organic: If a food product is not certified organic, I normally score it down a full point. Not always; for example, if there are other major green benefits of the food company beyond organic involved, but usually I will knock off a whole point. I do like some non-organic foods, but overall I purchase organic when possible and encourage others to do the same.
- Taste: Is it yummy? To who? Kids, adults, everyone?
- Ingredients: – Are they toxic? Will the ingredients harm me or the planet? Are the ingredients organic, local, natural, free from icky stuff I wouldn’t let my son near? Can I pronounce all the ingredients?
- Labels: Are all ingredients listed on the packaging and at the company website?
- Nutrition: Is it nutritionally viable? or just a fun food? NOTE: I’m not down on fun foods, what I am down on are companies who make candy or soda then claim it’s a nutritionally necessary item. It may be fun, and worthwhile for a treat, but that’s not the same as nutritious.
Additional criteria for green beauty and body care products
- Certification: THIS IS A BIGGIE – is a product labeled as organic? If so, it must be certified. If a product is not officially certified, and yet the packaging makes organic claims, it’ll lose big points with me. I like some natural, non-certified products. What I don’t like are natural products that claim to be organic when they’ve got nothing backing that claim up.
- Ingredients: Are they toxic? Biodegradable? Will the ingredients harm me or the planet? Can I pronounce all the ingredients? Do I have to look them up in a chem book to know what they are?
- Sourcing: Are the ingredients organic, local, natural and free from icky stuff?
- Skin Deep: What is the product’s Skin Deep rating? What is the company’s Skin Deep rating?
- Disclosure: Are all ingredients listed on both the packaging and website? Can I easily find them?
- Usefulness: Does it do what it’s supposed to – does it work better than conventional versions?
- Cost: Is it affordable to the average consumer? Is it worth the price? Could I easily make a green and less expensive version of the product myself, at home?
Additional criteria for books
- Is the book printed on recycled content paper?
- Is there a digital version available?
- Is the book informed and useful or just bunk? Is it all rehashed info I’ve heard before?
- Who is the book meant for and does it hit that target audience?
*NOTE: Although you should develop your own product criteria, feel free to use mine to help you make your list. If you’d like to use this criteria list at your own blog, and help put an end to shoddy, non-useful reviews, feel free to do so. Please just make sure to add the following blurb to the end of the criteria; “This Green Review Criteria is copyright 2009 Jennifer Chait and is used with permission.”