Answers to your questions

About Giki Social Enterprise

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.

The idea for Giki, which stands for “Get Informed know Your Impact”, 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 founded in 2017 to see if there was an simple, intuitive way to link people directly to information that they cared about beyond price and brand. 

This became the Giki Badges app which was launched in Spring 2018.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Awarding Badges

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 needed and at other times we have the information but our criteria are not met (e.g. high sugar content in a drink).

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

If a badge has been awarded then it appears in full colour. Green for sustainability, red for health and blue for fairness and our Hero Products are purple.

If a badge is greyed out then it means the product did not meet our criteria for that badge to be awarded.

We award fifteen different badges split into these areas:

Sustainability: better packaging; responsible sourcing; kinder cleaning; greener cosmetics; local; organic; carbon footprint; sustainable palm oil and plant based.

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.

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.

Product information

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.

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 form and we’ll then see if there is a way to find more details on that product.

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 fifteen different badges split into these areas:

Sustainability: better packaging; responsible sourcing; kinder cleaning; greener cosmetics, UK made, organic, sustainable palm oil, low carbon footprint and plant based.

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.

Sustainable Palm Oil

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.

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.

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.

Our full methodology on how we award the palm oil badge is included in our methodology here. We set a high hurdle for sustainable palm oil given the potentially devastating consequences of palm oil that is not sourced sustainably.

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