Eco Glossary: A Guide To An Environmentally-Conscious Vocabulary

Every term you need to know, decoded.

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Even though we do try our hardest to be kind and conscious when it comes to the environment (and our impact on it), sometimes it's easier said than done.

Between confusing terms, new-fangled labels and more portmanteaus than you can swing a reusable coffee cup at, navigating through the new dictionary of eco-speak can be a trip.

Here, we decode everything for you — skip the Urban Dictionary dive.

BIODEGRADABLE

Something capable of decaying through the action of living organisms.

CARBON EMISSIONS

Polluting carbon substances released into atmosphere: carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide produced by motor vehicles and industrial processes and forming pollutants in the atmosphere.

CARBON FOOTPRINT

Someone's carbon footprint is the measurement of the amount of carbon dioxide that his or her activities produce.

CLIMATE CHANGE

A long-term change in the earth's climate, especially due to an increase in average atmospheric temperature.

COMPOSTABLE

A product that is "compostable" is one that can be placed into a composition of decaying biodegradable materials, and eventually turns into a nutrient-rich material. It is almost synonymous with "biodegradable", except it is limited to solid materials and does not refer to liquids.

COMPOSTING

The controlled biological decomposition of organic material in the presence of air to form a humus-like material. Controlled methods of composting include mechanical mixing and aerating, ventilating the materials by dropping them through a vertical series of aerated chambers, or placing the compost in piles out in the open air and mixing it or turning it periodically.

CRAFT

An activity involving skill in making things by hand.

CRUELTY-FREE

In the animal rights movement, cruelty-free is a label for products or activities that do not harm animals anywhere in the world. Products tested on animals are not considered cruelty-free.

ECO-DESIGN

Eco-design is an approach to designing products with special consideration for the environmental impacts of the product during its whole lifecycle.

ECO-FRIENDLY

Not harmful to the environment.

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