All sustainable journeys must start from somewhere, and sometimes it can be hard to find all the information at once. As you continue to embark on the journey to a more sustainable way of life, we have compiled this glossary to educate and inform you!

Eco Terms

Capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.
Any fuel that is derived from biomass—that is, plant or algae material or animal waste.
Materials that come from plants, such as cotton, silk, or wood.
Plant or animal materials used to create energy.
A type of biodegradable plastic derived from biological materials rather than from petroleum, or oil.
Excess material produced.
Carbon Credits
A permit that allows the company that holds it to emit a certain amount of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases.
Carbon Emissions
Pollution released into the atmosphere from carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide; often produced by motor vehicles.
Carbon Footprint
The amount of carbon dioxide produced by your lifestyle.
Carbon Neutral
Producing no net carbon dioxide emissions, especially through planting trees as offsets.
Carbon Offset
A measure to offset the emissions of carbon dioxide caused by industrial or other human activity.
Circular Sustainability
Creating products that last and can be reused, repaired, and remanufactured.
Climate Change
A long-term change in the average weather patterns that define Earth's local, regional and global climates.
Climate Positive
Exceeding achieving carbon neutrality by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere; also referred to as carbon negative.
A system where everything is recycled and reused.
A product that can disintegrate into non-toxic, natural elements.
The natural process of recycling organic matter, such as leaves and food scraps, into a valuable fertilizer that can enrich soil and plants.
The careful maintenance and upkeep of a natural resource to prevent it from disappearing.
The purposeful clearing of forested land.
Extremely low rainfall over a prolonged period leading to water shortages.
e-Waste (Electronic Waste)
Discarded electrical or electronic devices.
The mentality to focus on reducing harm to the environment wherever possible.
Not harmful to the environment.
the ability to understand the natural systems that make life on earth possible.
A biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.
End of Life
The point at which a product is no longer useful and the process of reusing, recycling, or disposing of it begins.
Endangered Species Act
Works to classify species as threatened or endangered, designating habitat essential for their survival and recovery and ultimately restoring healthy populations of the species to be removed from the list.
Energy Efficient
Uses the smallest amount of energy possible to provide power.
the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates.
Environmental Impact
The effect something has on the environment.
A substance produced by a living organism that acts as a catalyst to cause a biochemical reaction.
Fair Trade
Principles of fair treatment, wages, and safe working conditions for workers.
Fossil Fuels
Derived from organic matter such as plants, animals, and microbes. Natural gas, coal, oil, and petroleum are all fossil fuels.
Garbage Patches
A popular name for concentrations of marine debris in the North Pacific Ocean.
Ghost Nets
Fishing nets that have been abandoned, lost, or discarded, at sea, on beaches, or in harbors.
A simple sugar that is made by hydrolysis of starch.
GMO (Genetically Modified Organism)
A genetically modified organism is a plant, animal, microbe, or other organisms whose genetic makeup has been altered in a laboratory. This creates plants, animals, bacteria, and viruses that don't exist in nature or through traditional crossbreeding.
Term used to describe behavior, product, policies, people, etc. that minimize environmental damage.
Green Technology
A technology that reduces or prevents the consumption of natural resources.
Misrepresenting something as being “green” when it’s not environmentally sound.
Greenhouse Gasses
Gases in Earth's atmosphere that trap heat.
Ground Shipping
Ground shipping is a delivery solution that uses existing driving routes for domestic shipments in the US.
Hybrid Work
A flexible working model where employees work partly in the physical workplace, and partly remotely – at home or from another workspace.
Hydroelectric Energy
The energy of moving water is converted into electricity by generators driven by turbines.
The chemical breakdown of a compound due to a reaction with water.
The combustion of substances contained in waste materials. Industrial plants for waste incineration are commonly referred to as waste-to-energy facilities.
Where waste is buried underground and can pollute groundwater, release greenhouse gases and produce odors.
Locally Recyclable
These are items such as paper, magazines cardboard, aluminum, glass, plastic bottles, and more that are able to be recycled at a local facility or recycling center.
A microscopic organism, especially a bacterium, virus, or fungus.
A molecule that can be bonded to other identical molecules to form a polymer.
Natural Fibers
Fibers sourced from plants including cotton, flax, hemp, bamboo, sisal, and jute.
Naked Packaging
Products that are sold without packaging.
Natural Resources
Raw materials supplied by nature.
Achieving a balance between emissions produced and emissions removed from the atmosphere; also known as carbon neutrality.
Non-Locally Recyclable
These are items such as beauty products, plastic phone cases, flexible plastic packaging, certain cleaning bottles and products, and more that are not typically accepted by local recycling facilities or centers. These products are indeed recyclable, but they often end up in landfills because recycling them is harder, and requires special services or collection.
Anything that was once a living organism.
PLA (Polylactic Acid)
A compostable plastic made with plant sugars, primarily corn.
Consisting largely or solely of vegetables, grains, pulses, or other foods derived from plants, rather than animal products.
Polyethylene (PE)
A tough, light, flexible synthetic resin made by polymerizing ethylene, chiefly used for plastic bags, food containers, and other packaging.
A class of natural or synthetic substances composed of very large molecules.
A chemical reaction where monomer molecules join together to form polymer chains.
Polypropylene (PP)
One of the most commonly used thermoplastics in the world. Polypropylene uses range from plastic packaging, plastic parts for machinery and equipment, and even fibers and textiles.
Polystyrene (PS)
A type of plastic used in everything from plastic cutlery to packing peanuts and construction materials.
Post-Consumer Waste
A waste type produced by the end consumer of a material stream; that is, where the waste-producing use did not involve the production of another product.
The action or process of converting waste into reusable material.
Renewable Energy
Electricity from replenishable sources such as geothermal, hydropower, solar, and wind.
An item that can be used again or more than once.
Items used one time and then discarded.
Solar Energy
Any type of energy generated by the sun that can be harnessed as a renewable energy source.
Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
Made by chemical bonding, especially to look and act like a natural product.
To reuse discarded objects or materials to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.
Not derived from animals or animal byproducts.
Wind Energy
The process of using the wind to generate mechanical or electrical power.
Avoiding products that create waste to avoid contributing to landfills, incinerators, and waste discarded in nature. Minimal waste is a more realistic term, as it’s impossible to create zero waste.
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