Feb 14, 2011

Track Products' Origins with Sourcemap

It can be a dilemma. We want to buy local—but it’s not always easy to figure out where all the different parts that make up the products we buy come from. Sourcemap, a new resource that offers users a platform for researching, optimizing and sharing supply chains, can track products from their origins with a publicly populated mapping system. “We believe that people have the right to know where things come from and what they are made of,” Sourcemap declares. “Sourcemap lets users create, edit and browse maps detailing the supply chain and carbon footprint of a variety of products,” Greg Stefano reports in Tech. “Anyone can create a map for just about anything imaginable and, as a socially driven site, other users can edit and add to that map, connecting the dots of where materials come from and their carbon cost.” The open-source, interactive database can track the origins and impacts of anything from a Macbook to a menu, Stefano writes. Sourcemap pulls information from publicly available sources to determine items’ carbon footprints, or global warming potential, including methane and sulfur oxide. It doesn’t account for pollutants such as heavy metals and radiation, which can be dangerous but don’t affect climate change. “It can be almost impossible to know with certainty where something comes from—that is why we’re building Sourcemap,” the website states. “Until producers care about the sources of materials, consumers will be uninformed. … Few companies explicitly reveal their manufacturing locations or their suppliers’. Madeinnations.com, however, provides the assembly location for many consumer goods. The rest of the information that we’ve made available is based on extensive research.”

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