Sustainability for dummies: 35 terms to know

Here at Greenworlder, we believe sustainability should be as inclusive and accessible as we can make it.

In order for the cause to speak to as many people as possible, from as many different walks of life as you can imagine, its language needs to be clear, concise, and easily comprehensible for everyone. It’s so disheartening to know that every single day, ordinary people like you and me feel shut out of the very action we need everyone to be a part of… simply because we might not be familiar with the latest acronyms or expressions that are commonplace in the sustainability space!

That’s why, in our “Sustainability for dummies: sustainability 101” section, we’ll help you get up to speed with everything you need to approach the green world of Greenworlder (see what we did there?) with confidence. 

Let’s get started, here’s 35 terms to know!

  1. B Corp: a for-profit corporation that has been certified to meet high standards of social and environmental performance, transparency and accountability. By harnessing the power of their business, B Corps commit to positively impact all stakeholders – workers, communities, customers, and our planet.
  2. Biodegradable: a substance of material that is able to decay naturally and in a way that is not harmful, which means it can be thrown away without causing pollution.
  3. Bioplastic: a kind of plastic derived from renewable biological substances and sources rather than from petroleum, many types of which are biodegradable and renewable.
  4. Carbon credit / offset: a financial instrument for companies to compensate for their emissions, it’s essentially a permit allowing for the reduction or removal of Co2 emissions made in order to compensate for emissions made elsewhere.
  5. Carbon footprint: the amount of GHG emissions to the atmosphere by an individual, organization, process, or product.
  6. Carbon neutrality: striking the perfect balance between emitting carbon and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere to reach a state of net zero carbon dioxide emissions. 
  7. Circular economy: a model of production and consumption involving sharing, leasing, reusing, repairing, refurbishing and recycling existing materials and products as long as possible.
  8. Climate change: long-term shifts in temperatures and weather patterns that have come to define Earth's local, regional and global climates.
  9. Compostable: materials that have been certified to break down completely into non-toxic components that will not harm the environment.
  10. Conscious consumption: consuming to minimize impact while focusing on the purpose behind each purpose and acknowledging the impact of your personal consumption on society and the environment as a whole.
  11. Deforestation: the purposeful clearing of forested land across the world. 
  12. Eco-anxiety: extreme worry about current and future harm to the environment caused by human activity and climate change.
  13. Energy efficiency: using less energy to perform the same task or produce the same result, thus eliminating energy waste.
  14. Environmental, social, and governance (ESG): framework assessing an organization's business practices and performance on various sustainability and ethical issues.
  15. Fairtrade: a system for changing the way global trade works through better prices, decent working conditions and a fairer deal for farmers and workers in developing countries.
  16. Fossil fuel: non-renewable energy sources such as coal, oil, and gas.
  17. Global warming: the phenomenon of increasing average air temperatures near the surface of Earth over the past one to two centuries.due to human activities, primarily the burning of fossil fuels. 
  18. Greenhouse effect: a process that occurs when gasses in the Earth's atmosphere trap some of the sun's heat, making the planet significantly warmer than it would otherwise be. 
  19. Greenwashing: making unsubstantiated claims to deceive consumers into believing that a company's products are environmentally friendly, usually for marketing and sales purposes. 
  20. Hybrid vehicle: a vehicle with both an internal combustion engine  and an electric motor. 
  21. IPCC: the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the United Nations body for assessing the science related to climate change.
  22. Microplastic: small plastic particles, less than five millimeters long, that result from the disposal and breakdown of larger plastics and industrial waste.
  23. Net zero: the balance between the amount of emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.
  24. Paris Agreement: a legally binding international treaty on climate change signed at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, France, on 12 December 2015, with the main aim of keeping a global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
  25. Pollution: the presence of any substance in air, water, soil, or food which threatens the health of human, animal and plant life.
  26. Recycling: the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects.
  27. Regeneration: taking action to actually reverse the damage done to our environment, encouraging greater resilience and continued protection.
  28. Renewable or clean energy: energy from a source that is not depleted when used, such as wind or solar power.
  29. Reusable: something that can be used more than once.
  30. Solar power: any type of energy generated by the nuclear fusion that takes place in the sun.
  31. Sustainable business practices: a company's strategy to do business without negatively impacting the environment, community, or society as a whole.
  32. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): a framework consisting of 17 goals and 169 targets adopted by the UN in 2015 to achieve a better world for our people and planet by 2030.
  33. Upcycling: giving an existing product a second life by creatively reusing and transforming materials in a way that increases the original object's value.
  34. Zero carbon: causing no net release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.
  35. Zero waste: a movement focused on waste prevention and avoiding sending trash to landfills, incinerators, oceans, or any other part of the environment.

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