Sourcemap: The Crowd-Sourced Tool To Learn ‘Where Things Come From’

February 1, 2012

11:00 am

You do what you can to stay as green as possible.  You ride your bike to work.  You buy your food from the local farmer’s market.  You get your furniture second-hand from local garage sales.  And then you walk into your local coffee shop to buy your usual fair trade dark roast coffee.  You’re doing all you can to leave as small a footprint as possible.  But how about your actual footprint – where did your shoes come from?  

If you got them from ECCO, the answer is, a lot of places (see: below).

The above image is the Sourcemap for the product supply chain and carbon footprint of ECCO Shoes.  According to the above map, the shoes start in either Germany, Finland, or France, which are then sent to the factories in either Portugal, Slovakia, Thailand, or Indonesia, and then finally end up at the distribution center in the USA.  In other words, ECCO ≠ ECO.

Sustainability depends on knowing the impact of our choices.  Sourcemap’s hope is to give consumers the information necessary to make these educated choices.  For a single person or small group of people to input the supply chain for all products everywhere, however, is just shy of impossible.  That’s why Sourcemap’s software crowd-sources this task.

For some companies, they would gladly have their carbon footprint remain in the dark.  However, in the era of transparency (i.e. the Internet), some companies realize it’s in their best business interest to be as eco-friendly as possible.  That’s why Office Depot and New Leaf Paper, have voluntarily joined onto Sourcemap to show consumers the full course that their recycled papers have traveled.

The more traction a service like Sourcemap gains, the easier it will be for shoppers to quickly discover the carbon footprint of their favorite products.  Let this be a notice to all product businesses moving forward.

Sourcemap is a Cambridge, MA-based startup and an alternate in the 2012 SXSW Accelerator Program in the Innovative Web Technologies category.

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When Zach Davis isn’t getting lost in the mountains, he is hustling from Boulder, CO as Tech Cocktail’s Director of Marketing. He is the author of Appalachian Trials, a book chronicling the mindset necessary for thru-hiking all 2,181 miles of the Appalachian Trail, a feat he accomplished in 2011. Zach is a green tea enthusiast, die-hard Chicago sports fan, and avid concert-goer. Follow Zach on Twitter: @zrdavis.

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