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Green Living Jargon Buster

Green Living Jargon Buster

The modern world is full of jargon and that doesn’t stop when it comes to sustainability and green living! Whilst we all know the three R’s (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle) new terms are cropping up all of the time. We thought we would break down the jargon and explain clearly what some of these things mean. 

Air Litter

This is anything released into the sky that can harm birds and wildlife, as well as creating litter once it falls back down to ground level. Things like sky lanterns, balloons and fireworks are all forms of air litter.


An item that will naturally break down over time with the help of bacteria meaning it won’t end up adding to our landfill problem.


This describes the variety of plant and animal life in the world, or in a particular habitat.


This is toilet waste that contains water, urine, faeces and toilet paper.


Otherwise known as Bisphenol A, this is an industrial chemical used to make certain plastics and resins since the 1960s. It is often found in food containers and water bottles. Over exposure to BPA may cause certain health conditions, especially for pregnant women and young children. BPA-free plastic is now easy to get hold of and is better for us and the environment. 

Carbon Footprint

This is the amount of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide and methane) released into the atmosphere as a direct result of our actions or choices. This can be anything from the items we consume, and the resources required to grow or manufacture those consumables, through to choosing to drive short distances when it isn’t totally necessary. Calculate your environmental footprint online. 

Carbon Offset

Many companies are now offering people the opportunity to balance out their carbon footprint by planting trees. These are often airlines and car manufacturers who are obliged to offset their own carbon footprint, however there are also reforestation charities that run projects that anyone can get involved in. 

Climate Change

The increased use of fossil fuels used by companies has added to carbon dioxide emissions into the air. This affects natural weather patterns over the course of time, meaning we are now experiencing extreme weather conditions more frequently.

Climate Denier

These are people who refuse to believe that climate change exists and is affecting our planet. 


Something that can be used as compost when it decays. However, some of these items, such as compostable plastics, can’t be home composted and require an industrial composter to break them down. 


This is the human damage or removal of trees from forest and woodland areas around the world. It is usually due to a desire to build houses, mine or for agriculture. Trees are extremely important as they store carbon and produce oxygen, as well as providing habitats for wildlife and birds. Deforestation also negatively affects the climate. 


These are a group of chemical compounds that pollute the earth by remaining in the soil, air and water for many years. They derive from human activity such as burning fossil fuels and incinerating waste. 

Eco Tourism

Travelling long distances is usually not so great for our carbon footprint, however there are now companies that offer responsible holidays that put the environment first. Their accommodation has been designed to reduce waste, they source food from local farmers and they offer conservation activities as part of their packages. 

Fair Trade

Fairtrade is a simple way to ensure that the people who grow the things we love are protected and get treated and paid fairly. It does this by setting social, economic and environmental standards for both companies and the farmers and workers. These standards are constantly monitored and must be met in order for items to carry the Fairtrade mark.

Fast Fashion

Mass produced clothing that can be sold at a cheaper price point. Many of the items are produced in factories in poorer countries where the workers are not protected or paid fairly. 


This is the process of drilling down into the earth before directing a high-pressure water mix at the rocks to release the natural gases inside. Water, sand and chemicals are used in this process to enable the gas to flow out effectively. The process can cause earth tremors as well as water and air pollution in the areas surrounding the fracking sights. 


The Forest Stewardship Council is a not for profit organisation that uses its expertise to promote the responsible management of the world’s forests, reducing deforestation. The FSC certification guarantees that those products have come from a forest or supply chain that is managed responsibly. 

Global Warming

This is a gradual increase in the earth’s temperature due to the effect of increased levels of carbon dioxide and other pollutants on its atmosphere. 

Green Washing

This is when a company claims that their product is environmentally friendly, even when it isn’t. Many large corporations are guilty of this and use clever marketing to hide the reality. 

Grey Water

Waste from other household water sources that doesn’t contain sewage, such as the shower, washing machine and kitchen sink. 


Otherwise known as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This is an international organisation set up to investigate climate change, the impact of it and ways to reduce its risk. 


An area of land where household or industrial waste is buried. This waste is usually not compostable. 


Small plastic pellets, the size of a lentil, that are used in the manufacture of all plastic products. Many end up getting washed up on beaches and are damaging to wildlife. 


This is often shortened to PV and is the use of solar cells to convert light from the sun into electricity. 


Restoring ecosystems to the point where nature can take care of itself. This is about more than just planting trees. Rewilding helps to reverse species extinction and creates conditions that ensure nature thrives. 

Single-Use Plastic

An item of plastic that is used once and disposed of. Think plastic water bottles, food containers and cutlery. It is a terribly wasteful approach when there are lots of alternatives to choose from. 

Slow Fashion

This is all about shopping mindfully and buying quality items of clothing that will last a long time. Vintage is also part of slow fashion because items of clothing are being reused instead of thrown away. 


Living sustainably means meeting our own needs without compromising the world we live in or depleting its natural resources. 

Waste Stream

The journey of a product from its source to its disposal, whether that ends in recycling or landfill. 

Water Footprint

Like a carbon footprint, but this measures the amount of water used to produce each item or service we use. 

Zero Waste

A recent movement where people try to create no waste that could end up in landfill. This is often done by re-using items, growing their own vegetables and limiting the amount that they send to be recycled.