Glossary of “Green” Terms

Green/Going Green – Striving to live a more sustainable life.

Environmentally Friendly/Eco-friendly – Used to refer to goods and services considered to inflict minimal harm on the environment.

Organic – Refers to the way agricultural products – including foods and fibers such as cotton – are grown and processed. The word “organic” on the label stands for a commitment to an agriculture which strives for a balance with nature, using methods and materials which are of low impact to the environment.

Sustainable – In an ecological context, sustainability can be defined as the ability of an ecosystem to maintain ecological processes, functions, biodiversity and productivity into the future.

Biodegradable – The process by which organic substances are broken down by the enzymes produced by living organisms. The term is often used in relation to ecology, waste management and environmental remediation (bioremediation). Organic material can be degraded aerobically, with oxygen, or anaerobically, without oxygen.

Carbon Footprint – A measured amount of greenhouse gases, primarily carbon dioxide which are released into the atmosphere by manufacture, transport, products, materials, activities etc. Footprints are described in CO2 equivalent grams.

Conservation – Protection and careful management of the environment and natural resources

Recycling – The collection and often reprocessing of discarded materials for reuse.

Eco-chic – The trend and fashion of being environmentally conscious and buying ‘green’ products.

Zero emissions – An engine, motor, or other energy source, that emits no waste products that pollutes the environment or disrupts the climate.

Post-Consumer – A product or material which has been recycled or reused after its original purpose has completed.

Green washing – A term used to describe the practice of companies disingenuously spinning their products and policies as environmentally friendly, such as by presenting cost cuts as reductions in use of resources.

Non-toxic – A substance which is not poisonous or hazardous to a living organism’s health, well being and survival.

Definitions were taken from The Free Dictionary and Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia.

2 thoughts on “Glossary of “Green” Terms”

  1. Deanna,
    Do you know anything about the term All-Natural? It is my understanding that it means nothing really, and lots of people think they are buying organic when they see All-Natural on the box. However, All-Natural can still contain High Fructose Corn Syrup and some preservatives, although it has been minimally processed. Do you know if all of that is true? (Oh Green Guru, you!)
    Thanks, Tammy

  2. Tammy,
    Here is an interesting article that talks about how “All Natural” claim on food labels is often deceptive.

    According to the USDA, which has defined the term natural only for meat and poultry, products labeled natural or all natural must not contain any artificial flavoring, color ingredients, chemical preservatives, or artificial or synthetic ingredients. Currently, no standards exist for this claim except when used on meat and poultry products. There is no organization behind the claim other than the company manufacturing or marketing the product, and there is no third-party certifier.

    Hope that helps answer your question.

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