Jo Hand, Giki Badges
Recyclable packaging, sustainable palm oil, animal-friendly… the checklist we need to run through to ensure our products are fully sustainable seems endless. Thanks to Giki Badges, navigating this wealth of information is now much simpler. Referencing over 280,000 products, this app allows consumers to scan barcodes and easily find out more information about products using badges.
We spoke to Giki social enterprise founder, Jo Hand, about her background as a pioneer and what’s next for the sustainable shopping app.
Tell us, in 20 words or fewer, about Giki Badges – what's your mission?
Giki is a social enterprise on a mission to make sustainable consumption easy.
What drives you?
Our mission is what drives me. I believe that with the right information, we can all make sustainable choices. I want to help people understand our impacts and influence, so that we can use that collectively to drive positive change.
We rate 280,000 supermarket products across 13 different areas: carbon footprint; sustainable palm oil; responsible sourcing; chemicals of concern; organic; UK made; animal welfare; nutrition; animal testing; additives; greener cosmetics; kinder cleaning and recycling.
Each of these are areas where we can make a real difference.
What is your greatest achievement to date?
Launching Giki was fantastic. When we came up with the idea, we hadn’t known whether it was possible, but now to see it being used by thousands of people and to see 70% of our users polled making changes to their purchasing patterns as a result shows it does work.
What are the challenges you face?
Analysis is always challenging. My co-founder and husband is responsible for this, he is real data geek! As we are creating something totally new and building analysis that hasn’t been done before, we have to plan it very carefully.
It is also challenging getting the app out to people. We all lead busy lives and however much we want to make positive choices, there are plenty of barriers in the way. At Giki, we want to make it easier for people to overcome these barriers and make it fun and empowering too.
It is so simple to start – just download the Giki app, scan 3 things in your fridge and see what you find. You will be surprised!
What are you working on that's getting you fired up and excited?
We have some really exciting work coming up. We are developing new analysis for new badges such as ‘carbon conscious companies’, which will connect products in our hand with the greenhouse gas emissions of the parent company.
We are also building an API to share our analysis with other organisations, so they too can use it to encourage sustainable, healthy consumption.
Something else we are working on is new Giki Tools for Schools programme, using our new Palm Oil detector and analysis to help children and their families make a real difference while learning about deforestation and palm oil related issues.
One of the most exciting things about my job is meeting people who are committing their time and energy to make a real difference. We have some fantastic volunteers, who are making a real difference on the ground.
Where do you want to take Giki Badges next?
Our aim is to build a product, brand and company sustainability database. It will algorithmically score millions of data points to draw independent, transparent conclusions on the environmental, health and ethical impacts of products and services to inform and influence purchasing decisions.
We are at the beginning of this idea and have so far built the first ever palm oil detector and the first complete solution for environmental, health and ethical data across food, drink, cosmetics and household cleaning: effectively covering our everyday products and purchases.
What can we, as individuals, do to make a difference?
There is lots we can do. We can look at what we buy and make the most sustainable selections we can. The good news is, there is plenty of choice, it is just about finding it! That’s why we include alternative suggestions in Giki – so when a product doesn’t measure up, it’s easy to find one that does.
We can share with our communities what we are doing too. Once people understand the impacts, they want to make sustainable choices. This has been particularly true with our work around sustainable palm oil.
How is what you are doing inspiring change in others?
We hope it is helping us all see products through a different lens, to understand the impacts they have on us, the environment and others. We some great people within our community who are out talking to schools about environmental issues and they are able to suggest Giki as a tool for concrete change and action.
One of the challenges for all of us is ‘what can we do.. and how can we actually have an impact?’ By providing a simple easy tool, anyone can use it and it’s an excellent way to start.
Can you recommend a life- or game-changing book for our readers?
The Tattooist of Auschwitz written by Heather Morris provides a 360 view of humanity. It is a reminder that humans can be very good and very bad, but one thing that unites us all is the instinct and drive to survive.
What do you listen to when you're cooking dinner?
I have to say, I tend to be working in the evening, so I am very lucky that my husband tends to do the cooking. If it’s my go, I go for BBC Radio 4, or just silence!
What's the best advice you've ever been given?
Be the best of you.
Can you leave us with who'd be your Eco Hero?
There are so many people doing amazing work on the environment. I don’t think I can name one. So, I’ll name a few: Michelle Desilets, working tirelessly on the plight of orangutans affected by palm oil; Paul Dickinson, co-founder of CDP, who raised environmental issues on the corporate agenda; Chris Packham, who reminds us to preserve what we have on our doorsteps in the UK. There are lots of groups and individuals doing great work – and there is a lot of work to be done and we all need to work together!
If your organisation is working to encourage more sustainable consumption and looking to increase its impact, get in touch and let’s team up for in the fight against climate change.