Ever browsed Amazon and felt hopeless at the level and speed of wanton consumerism? What if there was a green Amazon…? Well there is, and as alternatives go Evo.com is certainly one of the more considered attempts at bringing green shopping to the internet. It works on a kind of attribute system represented by green leaves from one to five: one green leaf and you’re mildly green, five and you’re as green as Al Gore. The assessment process for products is stringent and based upon a consultation process with leaders in the area of sustainability. Those seemingly innocuous little leaves “are based on the integration of several complex data models used to assess a wide range of environmental impacts.”
The easiest way to think of the Evo model is as a kind of link-up site patching together the disparate collection of green online-sellers and consumers into one easily accessible hub. The rating system gives the site a kind of niche. Evo seems aware that their assessments might be awry and ask that feedback be left if customers think a rating unwarranted. This comes up more often than one would imagine. Take this selection of jeans. The only claim to eco-friendliness here seems to be a reduction in fuel consumption due to the products being made in the United States. This is laudable, but whether it warrants two green leaves and the eco-friendly tag is surely debatable. If “Made in the USA” is enough to gain two green leaves how hard can they be to get? Other products such as those offered by No Sweat Apparel are ‘Evo Certified Merchants’ which is surprising since one would hope all the products were.
Evo is currently still in beta mode, and clearly there are some kinks that need to be worked out. The assessment process seems somewhat weak down the lower end of the scale, but as it stands there are precious few sites offering the same invaluable service. Perhaps one of the more engaging aspects of the site is the personalized virtual tree one gets upon signing up. By taking part in a quiz you watch as your tree gets greener or less so, but you also get a gauge on how your habits compare with others. There’s also a ton of information, articles and links available after every question. This was by far my favorite part of the site, and the guys at Evo have promised to plant a tree for every profile that’s created so just by joining up you get to do a little bit of good. After signing up you enter a kind of friendly competition to keep your tree greener than everybody else’s! Now there’s a challenge worth transposing into real life.