Answers to your questions
About Giki Social Enterprise
The idea for Giki came in 2016 when co-founders, and husband and wife, James and Jo Hand were continually struck by how they, their friends and many people they spoke to were struggling to find products that aligned with their own values. Giki was then started in 2017 with an aim to build a prototype to see if there was an simple, intuitive way to link people directly to information that they cared about beyond price and brand. After a successful beta the launch for Giki’s app was then ready for Spring 2018.
A social enterprise is a business that has a clear social or environmental mission, reinvests the majority of any profits it makes back into the pursuit of that mission and which is run in an accountable and transparent way. Giki Social Enterprise has written our mission into our governing documents and is a Social Enterprise UK certified member.
How Giki develops depends very much on what our users are asking for. However, our plan includes more badges and lots more content about sustainable, healthy and fair living. We’d also like to include smaller brands and work towards a way for people to measure how they are becoming more sustainable over time.
Our mission is to encourage sustainable consumption by inspiring people to make small, regular changes in their shopping which are good for them, better for the environment and fairer to others. Our vision is that all products and services become sustainable so really we want every product on the market to be awarded as many badges as possible.
Giki Social Enterprise is an independent company and our aim is to help consumers better understand the products they buy. However, we are always open to improvement and so will listen to advice and comments from brands and retailers and also work to ensure our data is as accurate as possible.
About the app
At the moment we don’t link directly to a shopping list that allows you to buy products. If that’s a feature you’d like to see then let us know. Even better if you know a lightweight way to do it…
We want to make it easy for everyone to make small regular changes and by suggesting alternatives we hope to support this. Some may be direct comparisons, other a little more quirky! For our alternatives we are always looking for products with more badges in a similar category. However, if the product is already awarded the top number of badges in its category then we show a few other options.
Yes. Free to download, free to scan a product. As a social enterprise our primary goal is to encourage more sustainable consumption.
Giki has set up an independent Advisory Board that reviews how we award badges. The Board meets quarterly and also reviews feedback from companies and users. The Board is made up of experts in sustainability, nutrition, worker rights, certification and supply chains and includes people with experience at both NGOs and companies. Current representatives include members from WWF, Oxfam and CDP.
That is totally up to you. Some people look at all the badges, some have a particular favourite and some look at all of them but know there are one or two badges that are “must haves”. The idea behind Giki is to allow users to buy inline with their own values and beliefs.
However, following feedback from our users we introduced “Hero Products” in August 2019 with the aim of combining badges to find the most sustainable and healthy products in the UK supermarket. Buying a basket of these products should help people to reduce their environmental impact compared to the average.
We award fourteen different badges split into these areas:
Sustainability: better packaging; responsible sourcing; kinder cleaning; greener cosmetics; local; organic; carbon footprint; sustainable palm oil
Health: free from additives; no chemicals of concern; healthier options
Fairness: animal welfare; animal testing
Hero products: a combination of badges to find the most sustainable and healthy products in the UK supermarket.
See our page www.gikibadges.com/how-we-rate-products for full details.
Not necessarily, it just means that we could not find evidence to award a badge. A badge gets awarded when we have publicly available, confirmatory evidence that a product fits the criteria we use. Therefore sometimes a “greyed out” badge could be simply that we don’t have the information (e.g. a product is made in the U.K. but it’s not made clear on the label) and at other times we have the information but our criteria are not met (e.g. high sugar content in a drink).
Please tell us. We are a small team but we are committed to improve our ratings over time and be transparent about how we are doing it. Therefore if you spot anything that does not look right please let us know.
When working out whether packaging is recyclable we look for standardised information on the label (e.g. Card – widely recycled) and other hints that the packaging can go in the recycling bin (e.g. “our bottles are 100% recyclable”). However, we were not picking up loose fruit and veg as it does not have any information on the label for us to use. We’ve now fixed this so you always get a recyclable packaging badge for loose fruit and veg. Why? Because if you take your own bag then any leftovers are the most naturally recyclable, compostable packaging you can find. Tell us if you see examples where it’s not working.
We continue to add new products every week that are coming from users. The response has been fantastic. The two main companies they come from are M&S and Tesco as we don’t have good coverage of their products as well as lots of interesting products from smaller brands.
With the move from Local to UK made we’ve also been thinking about ingredient provenance. At the moment it is not possible, across large number of products, to work out where all the ingredients came from and, as a result, we’ve gone for made in the UK (which can include using imported ingredients) as our way of deciding on a badge. The exception to this is where we have evidence from single ingredient foods that the ingredients came from outside the UK (e.g. “packed in the UK using chicken from Thailand”) or we know that they cannot come from the UK (e.g. tea and coffee). Over time we want to improve this and also find a way to bring back the local badge uncovering products that are made in your local area.
One other small bit of news is that we’ve added the Organic Farmer’s and Growers association to our Organic badge. We look for independent, rigorous and transparent certification and OF&G is also DEFRA regulated.
Local to UK Made
The main improvement highlighted comes directly from user feedback. We currently use our local badge to mean products that are made in the UK. However, users have told us that this is the one badges they find a bit confusing as to many local means some different. For example some people might consider it to be within 10 miles, within a drive, within the county or within their region but it does not cover all of the country.
We’re always listening and so the name of the badge, that highlights products made in the UK, will be UK Made.
Finding products which are made in the UK is a constant task for us. Sometime companies are very explicit (e.g. country of origin: UK) but sometimes it’s less structured and clear. Whilst many of us love brands that have a unique nature we need to find these one-by-one to make sure we’re capturing as many UK products as possible. Some of our favourites include “hand made in a wild wood” and “lovingly made in Yorkshire”. This month it was the turn of Irn Bru which says it’s “Bru’d” in Scotland.
Adding new Animal testing third party logos
We are adding NATRUE and BDIH to the third party logos that we look for in order to award the no animal testing badge. Both have a fixed cut off date, their policies cover ingredients as well as end product and they are independent organisations.
NATRUE for example states, “NATRUE does not support tests of cosmetic products and their ingredients on animals and we believe that effort must be made to avoid the use of animals for cosmetic testing globally. Furthermore, all our members do not perform animal tests on their products or ingredients and do not ask others to test on their behalf unless required by law. ”
From BDIH, “It is prohibited to carry out or commission another party to carry out animal testing – not only when manufacturing products, but also when developing and controlling the end products.”
Water is a healthier option
Certain categories of food and drink are always healthier options. These include fruit and veg and now also water. This includes both still and sparkling water although keep an eye on the recycling logo and consider a refill!
Our ratings draw on a number of different sources including on pack information; government guidelines and scientific research. We draw this data into our database which then algorithmically scores each product against all the badge options to create the individual product information. As a result we crunch millions of data points to provide our easy-to-use badges helping consumers to quickly get the information they want on products beyond price and brand.
Our ratings draw on a number of different sources including on pack information; government guidelines and scientific research. We draw this data into our database which then algorithmically scores each product against all the badge options to create the individual product information. Our how we rate products page has lots more info.
Not at the moment but…watch this space. Our belief is that people buy products from companies. As such we need to cover everything from the issues that users care about, to the products they buy and the ethics of the companies that they buy from.
If a badge has been awarded then it appears in full colour. Green for sustainability, red for health and blue for fairness.
If a badge is greyed out then it means the product could have won a badge but that we could not find the information to suggest that the badge should be awarded.
This is something we grapple with continuously. On the one hand it is almost impossible to present the entire spectrum of arguments in a simple, intuitive manner. However, at the same time it is that same information overload that is making it hard for people to find products that fit with their values and beliefs. We hope that by providing easy to understand badges, whilst at the same time being transparent about how those badges were awarded, users can decide for themselves and, where they want to, do further research into these complex issues.
Here is a blog we wrote on the subject called “Simple but not Simplistic”.
Some supermarket own label, and many smaller brands, are not currently included in the app. You can help to get them included by filling out our easy to use (but long!) form which we will then verify. If a smaller brand wants to add data then please get in touch.
We cover over 280,000 supermarket products across food, drink, cosmetics and household products. We rate those products in three main areas: health (red), sustainability (green) and fairness (blue). We award fourteen different badges split into these areas:
Sustainability: better packaging; responsible sourcing; kinder cleaning; greener cosmetics, UK made, organic, sustainable palm oil, low carbon footprint
Health: free from additives; no chemicals of concern, healthier options
Fairness: animal welfare; animal testing
We also award a Hero Product badge to the most sustainable and healthy products in the supermarket.
Whilst we have data from many of the UK’s leading supermarkets there are some which we don’t have yet. These include Aldi, Lidl and Iceland. We would very much like to include them in our data and if you agree let us know. In the meantime users can add their own products to the app.
Sustainable Palm Oil
There are three main reasons this will happen. The most common for large companies is that they don’t report on their palm oil usage to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO). In order to award a sustainable palm oil badge we need to analyse what type of palm oil a company uses. If they don’t report it then we cannot verify it. We believe that transparency around palm oil usage is a crucial first step towards sustainable palm oil production.
The second reason is that we have not managed to make the link between a product and its owner. With over one hundred thousand of products across thousands of brands this remains a difficult task. We have already linked many thousands of products and will continue to research more ways to make the links.
Finally it might simply be that the product is new or has recently been updated or reformulated. There is a constant flow of new products into UK supermarkets and we aim to be able to show them within a few months of their release.
There are two reasons we award a badge. Either we believe that the company itself can be awarded a sustainable palm oil badge or the product is certified as using sustainable palm oil. For the company we look at how the type of palm oil they use and whether they are committed to sustainable palm oil by 2020. For the product we look for certification from the RSPO or organic certification.
This is an entirely person decision.
However, a number of NGOs support sustainable palm oil because 1) Replacing palm oil with other types of vegetable oil (such as sunflower, soybean or rapeseed oil) would mean that much larger amounts of land would need to be used, since palm trees produce 4-10 times more oil than other crops per unit of cultivated land. 2) In producing countries, millions of farmers and their families work in the palm oil sector. 3) Replacing palm oil with other types of oil is not always feasible due to palm oil’s unique properties as a food ingredient.
However, some people still choose to avoid palm oil because they are not confident that palm oil can be truly sustainable, the deem that the impacts of palm oil plantations on other species are just too great or that they believe the rules around sustainable palm oil don’t go far enough especially in relation to deforestation.
We only apply the badges to products where we can find palm oil, or some of its derivatives, in the ingredients list. As a result if there is no badge appearing (in green or greyed out) then we could not find any palm oil. If you spot any we’ve missed please contact us.
This is an area where we will listen to our users. There are some categories, such as confectionery, cosmetics and biscuits where palm oil is more prevalent and so this is an area where some people might want to see a palm oil free badge. Have your say here.