Wouldn’t it be nice to understand the environmental impact of products you’re considering buying without having to spend a bunch of time on research while shopping? Good news! Finch is here to help you do exactly that. 

As a free Chrome extension, Finch works to inform you about products in real time, as you shop. It’s science. It’s an algorithm. It’s a rating system. However you refer to it, it’s a system of figuring out how sustainable products are in relation to ingredients, water consumption and human treatment, to name a few. More specifically, products are rated from one to 10 on an environmental-friendliness scale.

Related: Reno reveals its carbon footprint to the world

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How big is that footprint?

In all, the algorithm analyzes data from over 250 sources to evaluate six footprint measurements: climate, water, human well-being, ecosystem, waste and raw materials footprint.

A laptop clipart with a webpage screenshot titled "Real science and real review"

In addition to rankings in regard to the environmental and social impacts, the extension also relies on customer reviews to identify how well the product works. 

The final ratings

After combining all that information, products are given a final score. A rating of zero to 3.4 is on the low end and indicates the product is likely to fall apart or cause harm to the user or workers in the supply chain. Finch uses red in this category as an alert. Products rated with a yellow warning symbol between 3.5 to 6.4 are not great, but not terrible. The green zone ratings are 6.5 to 10, which means they’re some of the better options available. 

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Finch is a powerful source of information when it comes to selecting items on the most ubiquitous shopping site: Amazon. In addition to the calculated rating popping up as you scroll, you’ll see other recommended products that rank similarly or higher so you can make a quick comparison. 

Currently Finch offers ratings for over 80 commonly-purchased products, with that number growing by the day. The extension is free to download. Once installed, you don’t need to do anything else. It will automatically work as you shop Amazon. 

Wise guides

In addition to the ratings popup as you shop, Finch produces Wise Guides, which are basically consumer reports for eco-friendly products. The guides cover a range of topics, including some hotly-debated ones like diapers, wet wipes and cleaners. There are over 40 categories, some of which cover smaller, everyday items like laundry detergent, surface cleaners and dish soap.

There are also guides for big ticket items like mattresses and duvets. There’s an entire category dedicated to baby care products and guides for several types of paper products as well. When it comes to personal care items, there’s a lot of interest in how healthy they are for our bodies. Now you can know the environmental rating of products like toothpaste, body wash, deodorant, soap, tampons, cups and pads, hand sanitizer, lotions and even dental floss. 

A webpage with the title "Learn how to choose wisely"

Within each guide, there is a brief introduction, followed by bullet points aimed at “What to be wise on,” such as materials, packaging and additives. It also includes factors to consider and takeaway, with a link to their recommended products. 

What’s in a name?

If you’re wondering about the name, the company explained: “Finches are one of the most adaptable, resilient creatures on the planet. Gregarious and bright, their simple song unites flocks of hundreds, called charms (how charming)! They are a symbol of joy, energy and brighter times ahead. They love the wild, but also flourish in urban areas, and of course, eat local. This prolific little bird famously studied by Darwin has shown us how we can make small changes to adapt and thrive in an unpredictable world. We also can’t say ‘finch’ without thinking of Atticus Finch, a fictional character synonymous with integrity, accountability and a better life for all.”

+ Finch

Images via Finch