The green world is growing every day, along with a whole new vocabulary. See our list below for a quick reference to terms to help you understand.
Energy derived from sources such as solar, wind, geothermal (heat from the Earth's interior), biomass or hydropower (water or wave).
The use of basic organic practices but adding special plant, animal, and mineral preparations to the land and using the rhythm of the sun, moon, planets, and stars to create a healthy, self-supporting, farming eco-system.
An alternative fuel derived from biological sources, biodiesel usually comes from recycled or virgin vegetable oils. Biodiesel is cleaner for the air than petrol diesel and releases less carbon monoxide, aromatic hydrocarbons, and particulate matter (soot). Common sources of biofuel include corn, soybeans, flaxseed and rapeseed.
An alternative fuel derived from biological sources, there are two kinds of biodiesel. Waste Vegetable Oil (WVO) is made from used vegetable oil (often from fast-food restaurants or cafeterias) which can be burned in a diesel-burning engine. Making WVO into fuel involves a simple conversion process called transesterification. Straight Vegetable Oil (SVO) is biodiesel made directly from plans like soy, switchgrass, flaxseed or rapeseed or even algae. SVO has been criticized as a culprit of driving food prices up and since crops are often grown with pesticides, herbicides and Biodiesel is cleaner for the air than petrol diesel and releases less carbon monoxide, aromatic hydrocarbons, and particulate matter (soot). Common sources of biofuel include corn, soybeans, flaxseed and rapeseed.
An umbrella term for any fuel created from plants including methane produced from plants or landfills, biodiesel, ethanol, wood or wood waste, and others.
This is a term for the concept that every human body on Earth now carries a 'burden' of chemicals at any one time, some of which are stored, and some of which are not. Dioxin, lead and radioactive materials are some examples of substances which are referred to as adding to human and animals' body burdens.
Any trading system designed to offset carbon emissions from one activity (such as burning fossil fuel to create electricity, driving, or flying) with another that is more efficient or less polluting.
A chemical used to disinfect water and as a bleaching agent for many cleaning and paper products. The process of making Chlorine creates an extremely dangerous and damaging bi-product called Dioxin.
Certified Farmers Market (CFM)
These are locations that have been approved by the county agricultural commissioner for farmers to sell agricultural products directly to consumers.
Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)
A regional community of growers and consumers and are sharing in both the risks and the benefits of food production.
Known human carcinogen found in beauty products, including hair products and anti-itch creams. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
Toxin found in some nail polish, perfume, and hair spray. Studies show it is linked to possible reproductive and developmental issues. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
A financial industry benchmark for determining, assessing, and managing social and environmental risk in project financing.
A biofuel most commonly derived from the fermentation of corn into alcohol. New methods of transforming straw and other plant wastes into ethanol are making the production process greener.
Possible human carcinogen found in some mascara. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
This international network promotes responsible management of the world's forests and sets international standards for responsible forest management. The FSC label provides assurance to the consumer that the wood has been sustainably harvested.
Known human carcinogen that is found in some nail polishes. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)
Plants and animals that have had their genetic make-up changed through bioengineering to include traits that are not naturally there. Most commonly found in corn, canola, cotton, and soy. There are no labeling requirements in the United States.
An increase in the near surface temperature of the Earth. Global warming has occurred in the distant past as the result of natural influences, but the term is most often used to refer to the warming predicted to occur as a result of increased emissions of greenhouse gases. Scientists generally agree that the Earth's surface has warmed by about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past 140 years. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently concluded that increased concentrations of greenhouse gases are causing an increase in the Earth's surface temperature and that increased concentrations of sulfate aerosols have led to relative cooling in some regions, generally over and downwind of heavily industrialized areas.
The effect produced as greenhouse gases allow incoming solar radiation to pass through the Earth's atmosphere, but prevent most of the outgoing infrared radiation from the surface and lower atmosphere from escaping into outer space. This process occurs naturally and has kept the Earth's temperature about 60 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than it would otherwise be. Current life on Earth could not be sustained without the natural greenhouse effect.
Any gas that absorbs infra-red radiation in the atmosphere. Greenhouse gases include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), halogenated fluorocarbons (HCFCs), ozone (O3), perfluorinated carbons (PFCs), and hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs).
HDPE (High density polyethylene)
A type of plastic that is commonly used in milk and water jugs.
Part electric, part internal combustion, hybrids represent a green step forward for the automobile. Better mileage, lower emissions, better performance, and lower fuel bills make hybrids a great deal for both people and planet
A pest management strategy that includes using traps to monitor infestations, using better sanitation practices and beneficial insects to control the identified pests, and applying pesticides so that they pose the least possible hazard, and are used only as a last resort when other control methods have failed.
Toxin found in shampoos, hair dyes, and facial cleansers. Studies show it is linked to possible human reproductive and developmental issues. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
MSDS is a compilation of information on a given product's chemicals, health and physical hazards, exposure limits, and necessary precautions for use.
Organic substance found in some eye drops and ointments that is a possible human carcinogen. Studies show it is linked to possible human reproductive and developmental issues. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture defines organic food as that which is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations." Thus “organic” refers to a specific set of standards used throughout the entire process of food production. Food that is certified organic comes from farms that have been inspected and approved under the USDA's guidelines (by a third-party agent). Organic certification prohibits the use of most conventional pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge, bioengineering, and irradiation (also called ionizing radiation or “cold pasteurization”). Organic meat, eggs, poultry, and dairy come from animals not treated with antibiotics or growth hormones. Certified organic food is, by definition, free from genetically modified organisms (GMO's). Also, any handling or processing of organic food must be done by certified companies.
Made from certified-organic malted barley, hops, and yeast. These ingredients are grown without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
Made from organic ingredients such as grains or potatoes. Some spirits are made with some organic ingredients, but may not qualify for full organic certification.
Wine is labeled "organic" or "made with organic grapes" with the strict organic rules set by the USDA National Organic Program. In addition, the wine is produced and bottled in a certified-organic facility. Low levels of added sulfites are allowed in wine labeled "made with organic grapes" and no sulfited are allowed in wine labeled "organic" (with the USDA ORGANIC green logo). Because of U.S. regulations regarding sulfites, only domestic wines can be found labeled as Organic Wine.
The processs of using or capturing energy from the sun to heat water, or for other heating purposes.
The adoption of methods and practices from ecology, appropriate technology, and sustainable agriculture providing the techniques to establish productive environments to supply food, energy, shelter, and other material and non-material needs.
A toxic substance used in conventional dry cleaning. Perc for short, it's a chlorinated solvent that accumulates in body fat and has been listed as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
Polyethylene terepthalate. A type of plastic used to make soft drink bottles and other kinds of food containers. PET is also used to make fabric.
Toxin and possible human carcinogen found in some mascara, perfume, foundation, lipstick, and lip balm. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
The process of using technology to convert sunlight into electricity. Often referred to solar electric.
A term used to describe material that is being reused/recycled after it has been in the consumer's hands (e.g., a newspaper going back to the paper mill to be recycled into new recycled content paper products). Material or product used by the consumer for its original purpose and then discarded.
Toxic chemical used in pain and wound treatments. A known carcinogen, and studies show it can be an immune system and reproductive system hazard. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
The amount of pre- and post-consumer recovered material introduced as a feed stock in a material production process, usually expressed as a percentage (e.g., 30% post-consumer content).
The process of reducing the amount and/or toxicity of an item before it is ever generated (e.g. buying an item with less packaging or using a non-toxic alternative to clean with).
Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Toxin, immune system toxicant, and possible human carcinogen found in mascara, contact lenses solution, flu vaccines, and other beauty products. Studies show it is linked to possible human reproductive and developmental issues. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
Toxin found in some nail polish. Studies show that it is linked to possible human reproductive or developmental issues. Considered one of the 10 most unsafe substances found in beauty products.
Term that refers to products that are made with 100 percent new raw materials and no recycled materials.
Volatile organic compounds (VOCs)
Chemicals that evaporate readily at room temperature. Typically, they are industrial solvents often found in petroleum fuels, paints, paint thinners, and dry cleaning agents.
An environmentally conscious form of landscaping that uses indigenous and drought-tolerant plants, drip irrigation systems, and mulch to conserve as much energy as possible.