Answers to your questions
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.
How Giki develops depends very much on what our users are asking for. However, our product plan includes an Android version, more badges and lots more content about sustainable, healthy and fair living. We’d also like to include more and more smaller brands.
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
Yes. Free to download, free to scan a product. As a social enterprise our primary goal is to encourage more sustainable consumption.
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.
Giki has set up an independent Advisory Board that reviews how we award badges. The Board meets monthly 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.
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.
We cover over 250,000 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 badges twelve different badges split into these areas:
Sustainability: recycling; responsible sourcing; kinder cleaning; greener cosmetics, local, organic
Health: free from additives; no chemicals of concern
Fairness: animal welfare; animal testing
We award twelve different badges split into these areas:
Sustainability: recycling; responsible sourcing; kinder cleaning; greener cosmetics; local; organic; carbon footprint
Health: free from additives; no chemicals of concern; healthier options
Fairness: animal welfare; animal testing
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.
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. In total there are 12 badges that we rate.
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.
We understand that different people have different priorities and so, no, we don’t. We want to show the badges that get awarded and let the user decide which are the most important to them.
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”.
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!
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…
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.
Whilst we have data from many of the UK’s leading supermarkets there are some which we don’t have yet. These include Tesco, 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.