BadBuster is two things – an online search engine and a browser plugin. The difference is that is scores companies on their environmental credentials. I downloaded the free browser plugin which works in a similar way to the website. Instead of you entering a company’s name in the search box, the plugin underlines certain words on your web page – either in green, yellow or red – highlighting that there is an environmental rating for that company.
Hovering over the underlining brings up a box giving an environmental score out of 100 for that company and clicking the box leads you to the BadBuster website to find out more.
Simple stuff and pretty neat. It was easy to download and I didn’t even need to restart Internet Explorer, never mind my computer, for it to start working. It works for Internet Explorer 6 and 7 on Windows XP or Vista when I tested it but by the time you read this there should be a Firefox version and more in 2008.
The system works pretty unobtrusively, it does take some getting used to at first, having words underlined all over the place, but the traffic light colour coding is effective (red=bad, green=good, yellow=hmmm) and I found myself hovering and clicking through to find out more. BadBuster uses a 0-100 scale rankings based upon various sources include Climate Counts, BusinessWeek, KnowMore, and the Carbon Disclosure Project and also lets you compare the particular company with similar firms in the field.
All well and good. I found it quite nice, but not something I can’t live without. There’s the novelty concept and the fact I’m interested in the environment, however I’m not sure how useful it would be for the average user. The BadBuster website is a handy resource for people who want to find out more about a company to make their business/shopping choices based on their environmental rating so having it on every webpage only saves a bit of time. For the moment I’ve left it on my computer to see if I don’t mind all the colours and pop-ups, otherwise I’m taking it off and will just search using the website if I want to learn more.