Written by Holly Davis-Grant • Published 17th July 2020 • 3 minute read
The motivation to ‘go green’ in recent years has become a responsibility for many businesses, rather than a choice. Consumers have become much more eco-aware and therefore have shown a greater interest in conscious businesses that are making an effort to operate sustainably.
This has meant that many companies (and consumers too) have begun to actively embrace sustainability, seeing it not only as a trend but as a new way of life.
The sustainability space has rapidly expanded over the last few years and can be a tough area to navigate, especially with lots of new terminology and jargon cropping up.
Here, we have put together a A – Z (minus a few tricky letters!) of sustainable terms and explore what it all means:
Alternative energy – Energy derived from non-traditional sources, such as wind, compressed natural gas, biogas (cogeneration), or hydroelectric.
Bio-Diversity – The variety of life in plants, species and ecosystems found on Earth.
Carbon Footprint – Is an estimated measurement of the amount of Carbon Dioxide that is produced annually and emitted into the atmosphere by the direct and indirect actions of individuals, households, buildings, companies, cities, communities or countries.
Circular Economy – Creating a system of production for goods that is designed and developed to reduce waste and regenerate the use of the resources used in production, which are then able to be recycled and used to produce another product.
Deforestation – A permanent destruction of indigenous forests and woodlands. It does not include the removal of industrial forests such as plantations of pines.
Energy Efficiency – Reduction in the amount of energy required to provide products and services.
Food miles – Food miles refers to the distance food is transported from the time of its production until it reaches consumers. It is one aspect of assessing the environmental impact of food.
Global Warming – An increase in the average temperature in the atmosphere and The Earth’s surface, and which can contribute to the changes in global climate patterns.
Hydroelectric – Hydro power systems convert potential energy stored in water held at height to kinetic energy (or the energy used in movement) to turn a turbine to produce electricity.
Indicators – A system of sustainability indicators that measures progress toward sustainability.
Life Cycle Assessment – Life cycle assessment (LCA) is the comprehensive examination of a product’s environmental and economic effects and potential impacts throughout its lifetime including raw material extraction, transportation, manufacturing, use, and disposal.
Mitigation – Policies and behaviours designed to reduce greenhouse gases and increase carbon sinks.
Natural Capital – The stock of all the natural resources on our planet, includes all natural resources, geology, soil, air, water and all living organisms.
Organic – A term signifying the absence of pesticides, hormones, synthetic fertilizers and other toxic materials in the cultivation of agricultural products.
Pollution – The presence in or introduction into the environment of a substance which has harmful or poisonous effects.
Recycling – The control of materials at disposal to allow for the reuse of their components and materials.
Renewable energy – Renewable energy is energy generated from natural resources which are renewable (naturally replenished), such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat.
Sustainable – The practices and actions of people (& businesses) that are not causing harm, permanent damage or change that is detrimental to the environment, ecosystems, species or resources that are sourced from our planet (our natural resources), and that are capable of being sustained for future generations to meet their own needs.
Transparency – In a sustainability context means that more and better information, visibility and openness is provided around actions taken by an organisation. (For example, Supply chain Transparency would provide information related to supply chains to be more open and accessible to others).
Value Chain – Refers to the supply chain system of activities and which is adding value to the product or service from suppliers to customer in this onward chain.
Waste – Unwanted, unusable, discarded materials or resources that are disposed of after their primary use.
Zero Waste – Encouraging the redesign of resources in product life cycles so that all products are reused, with the aim that no products and discarded and sent to landfill.