The video below is a really good interview with Daniel Goleman and Bill Moyers about Goleman's book Ecological Intelligence. The book looks at a variety of new ways of gathering information about products that we use. The book was listed by Time Magazine in March 2009 as one of the ' 10 ideas changing the world right now'.
The concepts help us go a little deeper into green consumerism. I have just downloaded the iphone application from Good Guide which lists 65,000 products based on their ecological assessment - lots of familiar products rated, but think there is a US focus. This application even has the ability to process a photo of a bar code and give you a rating.
There are many examples cited in the interview and in the book, but one which seemed particularly striking was that some sunscreens contain chemicals that when washed off in the sea, encourage the growth of some algae which are detrimental to coral reefs.... and that literally thousands of tons of this chemical are estimated to be washed into the sea every year. As far as being a responsible consumer goes, it seems that a lot of knowledge could take us a long way.
Also interesting in the interview was discussion about how companies will be forced into this type of 'radical transparency' and that social media such as twitter will be carriers and spreaders of information on good and bad about products - you can follow Good Guide on Twitter!