Enjoy our glossary of ever growing terms.


Acid Rain – rain that contains the pollutants of sulfur and nitrogen dioxide increasing the ph levels in the water and soil and causing environmental damage and health problems.

Air Pollution – is contaminants or particle substances in the air that cause health problems.

Alternative Energy – is energy or power produced from uncommon sources that are generally not fossil based and therefore more sustainable.

Alternative Fuels – are fuels created from something that is not a “fossil fuel” or limited resource. Typically it is something made from a grain or crop.

Alternative Housing – is housing that follows unconventional methods, is sustainable and environmentally friendly.

Antique – an item that is older, typically over 100 years. If things are made to last, we have a more sustainable way of life and should learn to appreciate durability and quality.


Bamboo – a more sustainable crop for creating wood products. It only takes 6-7 years to grow and uses substantially less resources and energy versus the 30 years for a forest to grow. There are arguments that bamboo fields are taking up valuable land for food and the wildlife that lives in them.

Biofuel – fuel made from biological or organic material.

Biodiversity – refers to the varied species in a habitat or environment. The more diverse, the more likely it is to be sustainable because the organisms are each designed to help the others.

Biodegradable – is when something decomposes or breaks apart when left alone.

Blackwater – waste produced by toilets.


Cap and Trade – a method for controlling pollution by offering benefits and tax breaks to companies that pollute.

Carbon Dioxide (CO2) –  natural occurring greenhouse gas. The levels of CO2 are exceedingly dangerous and causing damage to the atmosphere.

Carbon Footprint – the impact or measure each person leaves on the planet, such as the amount of CO2 each person produces.

Carbon Monoxide – a colorless, odorless  gas released through combustion and causing damage to the atmosphere.

Carbon Neutral – when a company or person is not creating any CO2.

Carbon Offset – the act of purchasing credits to counter the effects of CO2 emissions.

Carbon Tax –  a tax levied on any form of CO2 creation such as burning fuel.

Climate Change – a significant change in the temperature or weather patterns due to a dramatic increase in atmospheric gases.

Chlorofluorocarbons – are man made chemical compounds made up of carbon, chlorine, fluorine and hydrogen that cause damage to the ozone layer.

Compact Fluorescent Lightbulbs (CFL) – energy saving lightbulbs that use 75% less than incandescent lights.

Composting – a process to help natural materials such as paper and food waste decompose naturally to create rich soil for growing plants and fertilizing the ground.

Composting Toilet –  a toilet that composts the organic material to be used for soil and fertilizer instead of disposing of the blackwater waste.

Consumerism – a theory to produce excessive goods for people to use. The more we consume the more production and raw materials become eliminated and harmful gases produced. Less consumption will therefore cause less damage.

Conservation – the practice of preserving and renewing natural and human resources, protecting wildlife and habitat in the process.

Conventional Power – power and energy produced from burning fossil fuels or destroying habitat for hydro electric creation.

Cooperative – an organization formed to be owned and run by workers to avoid their exploitation. Modern coops are often used as a purchasing organization to buy in bulk and get discounts but this distribution does decrease the impact on the environment and is very community friendly.

Cottage Industry – products that are typically one of a kind and home based instead of factory and mass produced.


Do It Yourself (DIY) – creating and making your own products instead of buying them package. Substantially less damage to the environment when you make something yourself.


Eco bag – a bag or container made with environmentally friendly materials and designed to reduce the impact of using plastic shopping bags.

Eco chic –  a term that something is good for the environment and in trend too.

Eco Design – a product or service is designed to be environmentally friendly

Eco Friendly – a product that has no or low impact on the environment.

Eco Village – a sustainable environmentally friendly village or community.

emissions – toxic particles and gases released into the air as by products from manufacturing and burning of fuels.

Energy Efficient – products that use less energy by design to be more environmentally conscious.

Energy Star – is a US government sponsored program that supports the creation of appliances and products that are energy efficient and rates them for their performance.

Ethanol –  a form of organic fuel made from grain.


Fair Trade – a standard and certification that promotes fair and ethical trading standards for people from economically disadvantaged communities.

Fossil Fuels – coal, natural gas and oil used for combustion burning engine fuel.

Fuel Cell – a technology that uses battery power with energy created from some form of electrical chemical reaction such as hydrogen.


Geothermal – harnessing power and heat from thermal heat pockets in the earths crust.

Global Warming – an increase in the average temperature of the earth.

Going Green – a term coined for someone that is becoming more environmentally conscious.

Green – the act of being environmentally and socially conscious.

Green Building – building and trades using environmentally safe materials and building process that utilizes the least amount of impact.

Green Design – design of a product with the environment in mind.

Green Fatigue – the act of becoming exhausted from all the corporate green messages.

Green Power – power or energy that uses alternative sources instead of fossil fuels.

Green Roof – a roof with green vegetation to contribute oxygen and also maintain a cooler house by insulation and cooling with the water in the soil (and filter toxins).

Green Seal – is a non profit program that certifies products if they meet environmental and health standards.

Green Tags – are green certificates purchased when using power to buy solar, wind and other forms of sustainable power generation.

Green Technology – is technical innovation designed to be environmentally friendly and clean.

Greenhouse Effect – is the process that raises the temperature because heat is trapped in the atmosphere from pollutants blocking the heat.

Greenhouse Gas – the gases in the atmosphere that trap heat causing the greenhouse effect.

Greenwashing – the practice where organizations make their products seem green when they may not be or the company uses unethical practices to produce the product. The company could also be polluting or destroying habitat to make the product it sells as green.

Greywater – waste water that doesn’t include fecal matter and could be used for irrigation.


Hand Crafted or Handmade – a non mass produced product, using no energy to create. Usually of greater quality and more one of a kind like.

Hemp – a plant fiber that is highly renewable for making various products edible and not.

Hybrid Car – a car that runs on both battery and fuel making it more efficient friendly to the environment.

Hydroelectric – power generated from the harnessing of running water.

Hydrogen – a common and natural occurring gas that makes up one part of the water molecule because there is many applications to create power and energy.



Kilowatt Hour – used to measure the usage of power per watt.


Landfill – the areas where discarded product, waste is disposed and buried.

Lead –  harmful and toxic metal used in paints and making of some products that is very harmful to humans and animals.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) – a very energy efficient light that emits light when electricity is passed through it.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) – a leading US certification program for building and construction.

Light Pollution – pollution caused from the excessive use of lighting.

Local – foods and products produced close buy to reduce the impact of transportation, packaging and manufacturing.

Locavore – a person who tries to purchase only locally grown food and made products.

Low VOC – or volatile organic compounds, which are harmful chemicals, so we want products with low or no VOC


Megawatt Hour – is one thousand kilowatt hours.


Native Plants – is a plant that occurs naturally in a region. Native plants adapt better to their environment and when invasive species take over they sometimes kill off the native plants by taking the nutrients or growing too quickly thus starving the native plant.

Natural – a product that is made from materials and goods found in nature. The caution here is that some natural materials are very dangerous or bland, so don’t replace it with the word healthy on that basis alone.

Non-Toxic – an item that is not poisonous or doesn’t cause harm.


Obsolescence (Planned and Perceived) – the creation of a product designed specifically to either be replaced or to break thus causing a consumer to purchase more.

Off-Grid – the process of living in a sustainable manner not having to rely on public utilities, therefore generating your own power.

Organic – food, vegetables and materials produced without the use of harmful chemicals and pesticides.

Ozone Layer – the upper atmosphere of the earth that protects us from the suns ultra-violet rays.


Passive Solar Heating – building design that maximizes the use of materials and the sun to create heat, even for cooking.

Permaculture – design of agriculture and settlements to mimic nature for natural sustainable living.

Phthalates – compound used to make products like vinyl softer. Known to cause defects and hormone imbalances.

Photovoltaic Power –  the use of solar panels to harness the power of the sun for heat and power generation.

Plastic – man made petroleum based toxic product that takes thousands of years to decompose and has become overused in modern day society. There are 7 types of plastic that can be recycled.

Plastic Bags – excessive production and use of plastic bags requires alternatives to be discovered.

Post Consumer Waste – material create after a product has been manufactured.

Pre Consumer waste – refers to material and scrap caused by the manufacturing of a product.



Recyclable – a product or material that can be used again in the manufacturing of new goods.

Recycling – the process of collecting and sorting materials to reprocess into raw material again.

Reduce – the act of lowering the quantity of usage on a product.

Renewable – a product that can regenerate itself, such as wind or sun therefore making it sustainable.

Renewable Energy – energy that is sustainable.

Repurpose –  using a product after it’s original use for some other purpose.

Reuse –  the act of using a product again, like using a container until it needs to be recycled.


Shade Grown – a product, such as coffee that is grown under the shade of trees and protects the natural habitat.

Solar Energy –  using power from the sun

Sulfur Dioxide – a heavy gas used to make bleach, sulfuric acids, coolants and other highly toxic products, a major contributor to air pollution.

Sustainable – taking actions and producing things without putting future generations in harm.




Vermi-composting – the process where worms feed on raw materials to create soil or compost.

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) – dangerous toxins found in paint and sealers.


Waste – the end of life of a product, an object that is thrown away because it offers no more value.

Waste Reduction – to create less waste, thus keeping it from landfill or other destructive means of disposal.

Waste Water – water that is contaminated and must be treated before used again.

Water Conservation –  protection or revitalization of water and wetlands.

Waste, Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) – a term to describe all unwanted electronic goods that are at end of life or have been made obsolete.

Wind Power – harnessing power from the wind.




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