Green Terms

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Today's society is growing more aware of our affect on the environment. As a result, companies are producing items designed to help instead of harm the earth. However, along with this comes a plethora of new terms. While people in these industries may be used to these words and phrases, they can be confusing to others. Here is a list of commonly used words and their meanings.

  • Air Pollution: Consists of airborne particles that have a negative affect on the environment and/or human health.

  • Alternative Energy: refers to clean energy that doesn't come from a nonrenewable resource such as oil, natural gas or coal.

  • Biodegradable: Materials which decompose naturally by the action of living organisms and are absorbed by the ecosystem without harmful effects on the environment.

  • Carbon Footprint: A measure of the amount of carbon dioxide emitted, usually expressed in annual tons.

  • Compostable: Organic material that decomposes in aerobic conditions, often within several months.

  • Conservation: Preserving and renewing resources, both human and natural; ensuring these resources as efficiently as possible.

  • Eco-Friendly: Having little or no negative impact on the ecosystem.

  • Emissions: The release of materials, whether liquids, gasses, or solids, from a process or industry.

  • Energy Efficient: Products that require less energy to perform as well or better than their traditional counterparts.

  • Environmentally Friendly: This refers to products that are manufactured to have little impact on the environment.

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): The FSC is a nonprofit organization that seeks "to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests." They decide standards for forestry management and work with other organizations to certify products as being ecologically responsible.

  • Global warming: Refers to an overall warming of the climate.

  • Green: Products labeled as "green" are generally energy efficient, recyclable, made from recycled materials, and often durable and repairable. "Green" companies use recycled materials, support sustainable processes, recycle and reuse materials when possible, and work toward having little or no negative impact on the environment.

  • Landfill: The place where unwanted items are dumped and left to decompose.

  • Non-renewable resources: Those that are finite in supply, such as coal, natural gas, and oil.

  • PEVA (polyethylene vinyl acetate): a chlorine-free alternative to plastics made of PVC that is considered less harmful.

  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC): Commonly known as "vinyl", this is a plastic widely used in many products. While not harmful in itself, the manufacturing of vinyl releases dioxins, one of the most potent carcinogens known by science.

  • Post-Consumer Waste: Materials that have already been used for their intended purpose. Examples include recycled tin cans, glass jars, and paper. Re-purposing these materials keeps them out of landfills.

  • Pre-consumer or Post-Industrial: This refers to scraps leftover from the manufacturing process and other items never intended for consumer use.

  • Rapidly Renewable: These include resources that come from quickly growing sources, such as bamboo, flax, wheat, wool, and some types of wood; they generally only need limited chemical processing.

  • Recyclability or Recyclable: Items labeled as this can be reused or re-purposed.

  • Recycled/Recovered Materials: Discarded materials that aren't deposited into a landfill but used in the manufacturing of new items.

  • Recycling: The process collecting, separating, and reusing unwanted materials.

  • Renewable Energy: Alternative energy sources that aren't depleted when used; examples include solar energy and wind power.

  • Renewable Resources: Similar to renewable energy, resources that can be replaced as fast as they are used, such as sunlight, hydroelectricity, and well-managed forests.

  • Sustainable: The use of natural resources to meet current needs without harming future use.

  • Waste Reduction: The process of decreasing or eliminating the amount of waste created at the source.

As you can see, there are many terms associated with environmentally responsible practices. Luckily, today there are hundreds of products designed to be ecologically friendly and have little adverse affect on the environment. Check them out for yourself today!

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