Organic, free-range, BPA, phthalates. The world is playing fast and loose with all these buzzwords. Our curiosities are piqued, our compassion challenged. We want to bring home organic veggies, free range eggs, use cruelty-free cosmetics, live an environment-friendly life, but we don’t know exactly what these are and how they will achieve our goals of being environment-friendly.
So to help you take more informed buying decisions, we created a list of the most used eco-terms that are often abused by marketeers. Powered by this, you will be able to see right through facetious marketing claims and choose better for yourself.
1. Anaerobic Digestion
Used in the context of biodegradation and landfills, anaerobic digestion (anaerobic = without air) is a process by which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. It is used for managing waste in environments like landfills where there is a lack of oxygen. It is also used in the process of fermentation to produce food and drink products like kombucha etc
Anthropocene was coined by Nobel Prize winner Paul J. Crutzen (anthropo = human, cene = new). It is proposed to be an era where human-kind has impacted the Earth’s geology and ecosystems, animal species, to create long term, hard to reverse changes. Climate change is attributed to be a human created activity and is a defining aspect of the Anthropocene. It has steadily become an environmental buzzword, being rampantly used by scientists and media alike. We feel it bears a loose resemblance to “Kalyug” – a dark age mentioned in India scriptures. Kalyug talks about spiritual bankruptcy, mindless hedonism, greed & materialism, unrestricted egotism, afflictions and maladies of mind and body.
3. Aquaponics & Hydroponics
Aquaponics is a new age gardening technique that uses water instead of soil as a planting medium. It combines aquaculture (raising fish) and soil-less growing of plants in a symbiotic integrated system. The fish waste provides an organic food source for the plants, and the plants naturally filter the water for the fish. It is different from hydroponics in that, hydroponics uses a nutrient solution instead of fish. There is an ongoing debate about whether aquaponics is better than traditional farming, the benefits being its free from chemicals and pesticides, plants grow faster, require less space (it can grow vertically) and water and is available around the year. The cons are that it requires artificial lighting as it is grown indoors.
Biofuels are fuels that are derived from living matter or industrial waste. Technically, gasoline and diesel are ancient biofuels since they are made from decomposed plants and animals that have been buried in the ground for millions of years. Biofuels are similar, except that they are made from growing plants. Biofuels can be derived directly from plants like sugarcane, vegetable oils, wood, agricultural waste. While made out of plants, they still release greenhouse gases and contribute to air pollution. They are only an upgrade over fossil fuels, but not a solution for the climate crisis.
Bioplastics are plastics derived from plant-based materials or renewable natural materials like corn, sugar and rice starch. Contrary to the popular belief, bioplastics do not degrade in a landfill or marine environment where they act exactly like petroleum-based plastics and disintegrate into microplastics, harming the marine life and taking years to biodegrade. For bioplastics to be environment-friendly, they have to be processed in industrial composts. PLA or polylactic acid is one of the most popular bioplastics.
6. BPA & BPS
BPA is a starter material for the widely used polycarbonate plastic. Polycarbonate plastics are exceptionally strong, can endure high temperatures and can sustain high-impact collisions making them a popular choice for safety materials like eyeglasses. As a material, BPA is invaluable. The concern with BPA is twofold. In the 1990s, research discovered that exposure to heat and light causes BPA to be leached from plastic. It was found that BPA has both estrogenic and carcinogenic properties. In both low and high quantities, exposure to BPA can adversely affect reproduction and interferes with endocrine systems. As of 2008, the US FDA, EU & Canada have banned the use of BPA in baby bottles. Last few years have seen the rise of BPA-Free plastic materials, and consumption for BPA-Free plastic has gone up. Anomalous to popular opinion, however, substitutes to BPA like BPS and BPF are found to have similar xenoestrogen properties. Being BPA-Free does not mean the plastic is free from harmful toxins.
Often used in relation to bread, Potassium Bromate is a bromate of potassium commonly used in the United States as a flour improver and sometimes to make malt. It strengthens the dough and allows for a fluffier and softer bread. It can get left behind in the process of baking. In 1982, researchers in Japan published studies showing that potassium bromate causes cancer in the thyroids, kidneys and other body parts of rats and mice. It was classified as a carcinogen and subsequently banned in European Union, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Nigeria, South Korea, Peru, Sri Lanka and India. The United States, however, still continues to allow its use. In California, a warning label is required when bromated flour is used.
8. Carbon Footprint
Carbon footprint is a measure of how much carbon dioxide or CO2 a person releases through his/her activities per year. CO2, while being essential for the sustenance of life on Earth, is a greenhouse gas. An excess of CO2 in the atmosphere causes global warming which is known to cause weather changes leading to natural calamities like cyclones, floods, forest fires etc. The biggest contribution of CO2 is from fuel and energy needs for heating, cooling, electricity and transportation. Energy used from fossil fuels like coal, gasoline and diesel have the highest carbon emissions. Consumption of goods and services (especially food) are also significant contributors. For instance, having higher proportions of meat in your diet requires a greater amount of energy to produce than vegetables and grains. The per capita carbon footprint is highest in the United States which stands at 20.6 metric tons which is 5-7x the global average.
9. Carbon Neutral
Carbon neutral or net zero carbon footprint is a term associated with materials, fuels and processes where no extra carbon dioxide is released while using it. Often to achieve carbon neutrality, compensations are made for the release of CO2 in the atmosphere via carbon offsets. Offset usually takes the form of planting trees or any other carbon-absorbing activity.
10. Carbon Offsets
Carbon offsets are financial contributions to projects that remove CO2 and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere created due to human activity. These can be made by individuals, companies of governments and are often carried by retailers or NGOs. One of the most carbon-intensive activities which are frequently offseted is air travel. Popular carbon offsets include reforestation, investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and methane digesters. Carbon offsetting is, however, abound in controversies. Authenticity and credibility is a top issue with carbon offsets. Voluntary Carbon Standard, Green E-Climate and Gold Standard are the top certifiers for carbon offset retailers.
11. Carbon Sequestration & Sinks
Carbon sequestration is both a natural and industrial capturing of excess CO2 to keep it from escaping into the atmosphere. Carbon sequestration happens by CO2 getting stored in carbon sinks and reservoirs that attract carbon compounds like soil, oceans, forests like Savannas. The artificial process is called Carbon Capture & Storage.
12. Carbon Trading
Carbon Trading is like a stock market for carbon emissions. It is also known as Emissions Trading or Cap and Trade. It is one of the most promising initiatives to reduce industrial carbon emissions. A cap or limit on emissions is set by a governing body, most often a government. The government auctions off or distributes permissions for the industry, allowing them only a specific amount of emissions that they can generate. Companies are incentivised to cut their pollution faster and sell surplus allowances to companies that pollute more, or “bank” them for future use. Over time, the total cap is reduced leading to fewer and fewer emissions. European Union Emission Trading Scheme & New Zealand Emissions Trading Scheme are two popular and somewhat successful examples of carbon trading
Carcinogens are substances that promote the growth of cancer. Common examples include inhaled asbestos, certain dioxins, and tobacco smoke. Chemicals used in the preservation of cured meats, benzene found in paint, dry cleaning and detergents and many others are classified carcinogens. You can see a list of classified carcinogens here.
14. Circular Economy
Circular economy is an economic system committed to minimising waste. As opposed to the traditional linear system, a circular economy encourages reuse and recycling and pumping of waste materials back into the supply chain. Long-lasting design, maintenance, repair, reuse, refurbishing, and recycling and the key pillars of a circular economy. It is aimed at reducing waste and enabling a country to be more sustainable.
15. Clean Grid
Grid refers to the power grid – an interconnected network of generation stations, transmission & distribution lines that deliver electricity from producers to consumers. Most of the electricity supply in the world is produced from coal and natural gas, both of which are considered ‘unclean’. About 28% of greenhouse gas emissions come from electricity generation. This way there is a huge push to ‘clean the grid‘ which essentially means sourcing electricity from clean and renewable energy like solar, wind, hydro.
16. Climate Change
Climate change is frequently used in conversations revolving around environmental issues. It implies a long-term change in temperature and weather patterns in a particular geographical area. In recent times, it has been associated with the change in climate for a planet as a whole. Climate change is currently a result of global warming – an increase in the planet’s overall temperature caused by the burning of fossil fuels that release gases called Greenhouse gases that trap heat from the Sun, causing Earth’s average temperature to rise. Scientists agree that climate change is fueling longer and hotter heat waves, more frequent droughts, heavier rainfall, increased incidences of wildfires, floods and more powerful hurricanes.
Cold pressing is a technique of extracting juices or oils from fruits or nuts. It is called cold because no heat is applied in the process as compared to traditional methods like centrifugal. Cold pressing is considered a healthier way of consuming juices, as the nutrients remain intact and sugar is usually not added. High-pressure processing (HPP) is used to increase shelf life to up to 30 days. In HPP, the fruit pulp is pressed between two steel plates causing the juice to separate from the pulp. The intense pressure applied to the pulp, deactivates microbes making it easier to preserve the juice.
Compostable is a material that converts to a nutrient-rich fertilizer or soil conditioner when treated with an organic mix comprising certain microbes that help in the process of breaking it down. Traditionally, organic things like fruits, vegetables, peels, leaves, twigs are the easiest to compost. Of late, there have been a slew of compostable packaging materials in the markets especially bags, plates and spoons. The fact that these are labelled compostable, may not necessarily mean if disposed of in rivers or seas or even in dump yards, they will degrade. These plastics often need to be controlled industrial environments to help them compost. Most of our waste ends up in a landfill where nearly nothing decomposes. So compostable packaging and cutlery if not segregated at source and end up in a landfill or the ocean will behave act exactly like a normal plastic, taking hundreds of years to decompose.
19. Cruelty Free
Cruelty-free is a term usually associated with cosmetics, which used to communicate that in the creation of the product no animal was harmed. Traditionally animals like rabbits, rats and pigs were used to test chemicals used in various products to help them deem safe for human consumption. This process itself was highly cruel to the animals, and often caused them immense pain suffering and even death. Broadly, cruelty-free means not-tested on animals. However, despite getting enough attention, there are merely a handful of certifications that verify claims of no animal testing. PETA & Leaping Bunny are amongst the two popular ones.
20. Dumpyards & Landfills
Dumpyard or dumping ground may be used synonymously with landfill but can sometimes mean different things. Dump means a small dug up hole in the ground to dispose of waste and then cover it. This is usually done in small independent homes, villages or localities. A landfill, on the other hand, is a managed dump yard where a designed structure is built into the ground in which trash is dumped. It is isolated from the surrounding environment by way of lining it with bricks and rubber. Inside a landfill, trash is thrown and compacted together without any exposure to air. This causes the waste to degrade in the absence of air and can result in the production of methane – a greenhouse gas which has the potential for global warming 32 times that of carbon dioxide. The decomposing waste also leaches a toxic liquid which can sometimes make its way underground, contaminating the groundwater. For this myriad of reasons, landfills have become unpopular. Landfills basically are a way of preserving waste underground, rather than using it by recycling or composting.
E-waste or electronic waste is disposed of electronic items like computers, mobile phones, television, refrigerators, air conditioners and even AA batteries. E-waste is one of the most dangerous kinds of waste due to the presence of heavy metals like cadmium and lead. Improper disposal of these could severely affect the health of individuals. In 2006, the United Nations estimated the amount of worldwide electronic waste discarded each year to be 50 million metric tons. The reason for increasing e-waste is the rapid advancement of technology and planned obsolescence. Electronics brands built their products to last only a few years and make them difficult to repair. Along with this, the prices of electronics have come down significantly incentivising the consumer to keep changing their electronics much more often. This is especially true of mobile phones. This has lead to waste so unmanageable, that some of the first world countries actually export their e-waste to the third world.
The most overrated and loose term which supposedly implies environment-friendliness. Eco-friendly is a term used by many brands in an attempt to bump up their image by showing consideration towards environmental issues. More often than not, this term is exploited and used to ‘greenwash‘ the consumer. A lot more investigation is required into a brand that claims to be eco-friendly. It should ideally never be taken at face value.
3 questions to ask whether and the eco-friendly claim is genuine or not are :
1. Does the product cause harm to the environment at the end of its life (like plastic)
2. Is it built to last a long time? A truly eco-friendly product should serve you for years and years.
3. Is it resource efficient or is it irresponsibly made from scarce resources?
4. Were forests or communities destroyed or harmed in the process of creating this product?
5. Did it have a big carbon footprint? (was it produced locally or was it flown from far away lands)
Certifying a product or service for being sustainable and environmentally friendly is a complex task. There are hundreds of variables to consider. Naturally, there are thousands of certifications or eco-labels that certify that a product or service is environment-friendly. Not all of these are trustable. Many are in fact used to influence the consumer without having rigorous certification criteria. Some of the world’s most popular and reliable ecolabels are FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) for responsibly sourced paper; Energy Star for energy efficient appliances, EU Ecolabel for all products, B Corp for companies, LEED or Green Building Council for construction projects,
24. Energy Star
Energy Star is a program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that promotes energy efficiency. It usually certifies efficient use of energy for a variety of electronic products, appliances, heating and cooling devices. To earn the ENERGY STAR, products must meet strict energy efficiency criteria set by the EPA. It should also provide a saving on the electricity bill for the consumers
25. Environmental Accounting
Traditional financial accounting practices in big companies focus on improving the bottom line – the revenues declared on a company’s balance sheet. Experts have been arguing that including hidden and indirect costs to the environment must be made part of accounting to discourage harm to the environment caused by industrial processes. Costs connected with the actual or potential deterioration of natural assets due to economic activities can be reduced significantly if they are accounted for.
26. Ethical Fashion
A movement driven by individuals to boycott fashion brands that exploit labour in third world countries to create low-priced fast moving fashion products. Ethical fashion became more popular as a philosophy after the exposé of the Rana Plaza Garment Factory incident in Bangladesh where poor conditions of the workers in fashion factories lead to a collapse of such a factory killing thousands. The factory was compared to a modern-day sweatshop with slave-like treatment of the workers. Brands like Primark, Benetton and Walmart came under fire after this incidence for being part of the companies that sourced from this factory. Since then, a focus on workers’ working conditions, social welfare, fair wage has gained steam and given birth to ethical fashion. Brands that showcase good treatment for their workers have come to be associated with ethical fashion. Ethical fashion may also imply the use of alternative materials like hemp and Tencel which have a low environmental footprint.
27. Fair Trade
Fair Trade is certification created to help producers in developing, third world countries to receive fairer prices and favourable trade conditions. Fairtrade advocates the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social and environmental standards. It is most commonly applied to clothing, fabric, handicrafts, coffee, cocoa, wine, sugar, fresh fruit, chocolate, flowers and gold. The Fair Trade seal is an easy way for consumers to check if their brand has allowed decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world from where they source their product. Fair Trade UK is the most reputed fairtrade label
28. Flame Retardant
Flame retardants are chemicals used to line carpets and furnishings to keep them from burning if exposed to a fire. Flame or fire retardants are also used in firefighting. While built with safety in mind, flame retardants became highly unpopular in public because of their interaction with human health. The original type of flame retardant – brominated flame retardant was banned in the US in 1977 for being toxic. PBDE came to substitute them, but research showed that they disrupt mechanisms that are responsible for releasing hormones in your body, as well as alter calcium signalling in your brain, which can adversely affect learning and memory. They are also linked to decreased fertility and thyroid problems.
29. Free Range
Free-range refers to a style of animal husbandry and rearing where animals (usually hens) are allowed to roam around freely in the open air. This is in contrast with the cruel conditions of the battery cages in which poultry is raised. Hens are packed into small cages where they have no place to move around or spread their wings and exhibit their natural behaviour. Free range chicken and eggs are also often offered better feed resulting in healthier eggs with brighter yolks. Free range, however, has a very loose definition. For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture defines free-range as allowing chickens to have some access to an outside area. It does not specify for how long. It can be misused to push marketing agenda without really meaning better conditions for the animals.
30. Gluten Free
Gluten is a protein that is naturally present in cereals like wheat. Also known as celiac, it provides elasticity to the dough. Gluten may or may not be bad for you, depending on whether you have a gluten allergy or celiac disease. Celiac disease is an immune system disorder, which causes damage to the small intestine. Research says that gluten can be harmful for those who have the celiac disease, but may pose no threat to others.
GOTS is the Global Organic Textile Standard and is one of the world’s biggest certification for organic fibres like cotton. GOTS certified products are reliable for being organic. It has stringent evaluation criteria including use of chemicals that are evaluated for toxicity and biodegradation; chlorine-free bleaching, pvc free packaging material, limits on waste, no workplace discrimination, fair wages and decent working hours.
32. Greenhouse Gases
Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere are called greenhouse gases. This trapping of heat is called the greenhouse effect. Carbon Dioxide, Methane, Nitrous Oxide, Ozone and Water Vapour together form the greenhouse gases.
Increase in greenhouse gases due to human activity has caused global warming and climate change.
Greenwashing is a marketing or PR spin used with the intention of influencing or tricking people into deceptively believing that a product, service or company is environment-friendly when in reality it is not. It includes loosely using terms like eco-friendly, green, 100% natural, without having a required qualification to prove their environment-friendliness. A brand is said to be greenwashing when significantly more money or the time has been spent advertising being “green” than is actually spent on environmentally sound practices. Greenwashing is one of the biggest evils of the society that causes innocent, vulnerable consumers to make bad purchasing decisions. CorpWatch and Greenpeace Stop Greenwash are campaigns which help you identify greenwashing companies and products. Nestle has had a fair few allegations for greenwashing for their declared commitment (or lack of it) to reducing the use of single-use plastic.
34. Hybrid Vehicle
A hybrid car can use both electricity and gasoline or petrol to power itself. It uses less fuel and releases less carbon dioxide as compared to a traditional fuel car. Hybrid cars are often incentivised by the government where you have to pay lower road tax and get tax rebates for using an electric or a hybrid car. Hybrid cars uses a technology that helps it to automatically shift to the electric motor when driving in the city at lower speeds providing much better fuel efficiency than a diesel car. Toyota Prius is one of the most popular hybrid cars. Using a hybrid or a fully electric car is one of the highest impact activities and individual or family can undertake to reduce their carbon footprint. It is also cheaper in the long term since you have to pay lesser for fuel.
Incinerators are big commercial furnaces used to burn off solid waste instead of sending it to the landfill. The process of incineration produces various gases like greenhouse gases and may produce toxic compounds like dioxins and furan. Dioxins have been classified as human carcinogens by the US Environmental Protection Agency and can cause multiple health issues if exposed to. Usually, incinerators are mandated to treat the gases released after the burning process, but sometimes these directives are not followed. This poses a big threat to the population of the area where the incinerators are located.
Konmari method is a style of discarding and decluttering your home of material possessions that you no longer need. Popularised by the Japanese “tidying expert”, Marie Kondo, it includes a room-by-room method of reducing and reorganising material things like clothes, books, kitchenware and sentimental items like photos. It also proposes a unique ‘folding system’ for clothes and fabric, so that they can be stacked neatly in a wardrobe making it easy to access. Marie Konda has gained immense popularity and now even has a show on Netflix.
37. Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol was the first international treaty and conference attended by over 150 countries to decide a series of actions needed to prevent global warming. The target was set to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 5%. It was adopted in Kyoto, Japan in 1997 as a landmark diplomatic achievement. However, 100 developing countries including India & China were exempt from the commitment on account of being developing countries with low emissions. This led to the withdrawal of Canada from the treaty – claiming it unfair. The US also failed to commit to the protocol on the grounds that it will affect the US economy.
38. Mass/Fast Fashion
Fast Fashion is the clothing trend where new clothes and fashion is produced at a breakneck speed while being available at cheap prices. A new collection is launched virtually every month, encouraging shoppers to replace their old clothes with new ones faster than they would. The cheap pricing of fast fashion is afforded by perpetrating various evils. Fashion brands like H&M and Zara, get their clothes made offshore in underdeveloped nations like Bangladesh, Vietnam, India. The wage paid to the labour is a pittance and working conditions are pathetic. This is how fast fashion is available for so cheap. Fast fashion clothing is often dyed with toxins like chlorine which are known to cause health issues. The most popular material used to produce clothes at this speed is polyester. Polyester is derived from environmentally harmful petroleum and disintegrates into microfibres when washed. These microfibers often end up in rivers and oceans affecting aquatic life. Since clothes are churned faster, more and more clothes are ‘disposed of’ more frequently and they end up in landfills causing pollution. The opposite of Fast Fashion, a movement gaining pace, is Slow Fashion. A trend to help steer clear of evils of fast fashion. Slow fashion focuses on better material, quality, more accountability of the brands, better wages for their workers.
Minimalism in the context of consumerism implies buying only things that you need. A Japanese concept, it motivates people to own lesser and lesser and not derive their self-worth from material possessions. It can sometimes be similar to utilitarianism which lays focus on being useful or practical rather than attractive. Minimalism has gained popularity in the fight against environmental issues, as it helps reduce your dependence on possessions that use precious and depleting natural resources for their production.
Off-gassing is the release of harmful chemicals or gases from the use of seemingly everyday things like floor cleaners, deodorants, furniture made of particle board, non-stick pans and paints. When exposed to heat or light, or even normal use, these products can release harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, and various VOCs or Volatile Organic Compounds that can trigger allergies or may even act as carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
In the context of food and crops, organic means food produced without the use of pesticides or chemical fertilizers known to cause health issues. Organic is usually the most abused green term and can often be ingenuine. It is important for a consumer to check for certification when a product calls itself organic. Popular organic certifications include GOTS for cotton, USDA Organic for food
Paraben is an umbrella term used to indicate preservatives that are used in cosmetic and pharmaceutical products to increase their shelf life. They have bacterial and anti-fungal properties to keep your cosmetics from spoiling quickly. Parabens became extremely unpopular for their suspected ability to act as endocrine disruptors. Parabens were also found in breast cancer tissues by the American Cancer Foundation and caused a worldwide scare. In 2014, European banned the use of 5 parabens namely Isopropylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Phenylparaben, Benzylparaben and Pentylparaben. The rest of the world, however, does not yet have any legislation on parabens.
43. Paris Agreement
The Paris Agreement was a follow-up agreement after the Kyoto Protocol, calling the participating countries to submit a defined plan with deadlines for mitigating global warming. The Paris Agreement’s long-term goal is to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2 °C. As in the Kyoto Protocol, the United States President, Donald Trump announced a withdrawal from the agreement. However, under the agreement, the earliest date of withdrawal possible for the U.S. is November 2020 – a little before the end of the term of the president. The Paris Agreement is a lot more focused, with clearer, better-defined goals. Unlike the Kyoto Protocol, It is politically encouraged, rather than legally bound.
PETE / PET Polyethylene terephthalate or PETE or PET is the fourth most commonly used plastic in the world. Most common uses include plastic bottles, containers and clothing fabric (polyester), thermoform, blister packaging and 3D printing. PET is highly recyclable and comes with the recycling code 1. PET might cause endocrine disruption.
45. PFOA & PTFE
PFOA or Perfluorooctanoic acid is a chemical that enables resistance to water, oil, stain and grease in fabrics, carpets, and cookware. It is an ingredient commonly used for making the non-stick material PTFE or Teflon. It can also be found in water-repellent clothes and packaging materials. Multiple studies have shown that exposure to PFOA & PTFE is a hazard to health and can cause cancers, low birth weight of new borns, liver, thyroid and immune system issues. The UN recommended eliminating PFOA and related compounds in September 2018. In the US and Europe many manufacturers were asked to stop using PFOA.
Phthalates are plasticizers or substances added to plastics like PET, PVC to make them softer and improve their flexibility, and durability. Phthalates are used ubiquitously in a variety of products like cosmetics, toys, floorings, wallpapers, detergents, pipes and packaging. Phthalates can be off-gassed from plastic products containing them and can be inhaled, ingested or absorbed through the skin. They are linked to a host of human health issues like asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, low IQ, autism spectrum disorders, and male fertility issues. BBP, DBP, and DEHP are types of phthalates that are banned from toys and children’s products in the US and Europe.
Pinatex is a vegan leather, or a leather obtained from plant sources instead of animals. It is made of fibres extracted from pineapple leaves, used in the manufacture of bags, shoes, wallets, watch bands, and seat covers. While it may seem that pinatex is a more sustainable material, it is not biodegradable. It also contains petroleum-based resins. However, it is partially produced from waste products of pineapple and does not require additional land, water, pesticides or fertilizers, making it more resource efficient than other materials.
48. Pre owned
Pre-owned is a synonym for second-hand, refurbished or used products that have been previously purchased. It has been made popular in the light of sustainability because it encourages reuse and extends the life of products like cars, electronics and even clothes. Thrift stores that stock pre-owned goods have gained popularity, partly because of the competitive prices.
PVC or polyvinyl chloride is the world’s third-most widely produced plastic, also known as vinyl. The most common usage of PVC is plumbing, insulation, packaging and medical supplies. PVC is made softer by the addition of phthalates which are linked with serious diseases. For this reason, PVC may be a suspected toxic material.
Recycling is using waste materials to break them down and convert them into the same material again. Glass, metals, paper, cardboard, and some plastics are easy to recycle. For recycling to be successful, the waste materials need to be segregated, cleaned and dried. A PET bottle with the wet waste inside it is not easy to recycle, but if cleaned can be easily recycled. Metals like steel, aluminium and copper are melted to reproduce them into the same materials. Metals are often 100% recyclable and leave no waste and can be recycled over and over again. Same holds for glass. Most waste materials have a defined scrap value or buyback price and can be exchanged for money.
51. Repurpose or Upcycle
Repurposing or upcycling is a way to use an existing product to create another different product and thereby keeping them from being dumped in a landfill and increasing the life of the product. For example, using old clothes as rags, plastic bottles as lamps and many others.
r PET is recycled PET plastic. Its become a popular choice for those seeking environment-friendly materials. It also encourages the recycling of plastics.
SLES or sodium lauryl ether sulfate is a detergent surfactant or a material added to soaps to help it lather or foam. It is widely used in soap, shampoo and toothpaste and loosely (and inaccurately) referred to as Sulphates. SLES can often by contaminated by Dioxane, which is a classified carcinogen. It can also cause irritation to skin and eyes. For this reason, it may be better to avoid. Safe alternatives of SLES include use of castile soap.
Sustainability is a broad term, most frequently used in the context of environmental consciousness. It means, allowing only those human activities required for survival, which do not create an ecological imbalance in nature and hence allows humans to continually engage in such processes to ensure a healthy survival forever. To strive to be sustainable, we need to stop being reliant on fossil fuel, use resources more efficiently, reduce dependence on meat and material, create less waste and recycle.
Veganism is a practice of abstaining from animal or animal-derived products. This includes meats of all kinds, dairy, eggs, honey, silk and leather. There is a heavy focus on having a plant-based diet. There are claims that a vegan diet is healthier and lowers risk of diabetes, blood pressure and obesity. Vegan diets, however, are low on vitamins B12 and D, calcium, and omega-3 fatty acids which have to be supplemented. Popular vegan alternatives include soy and nut milks like almond, walnut. Soy is a heavily used food in a vegan diet. It can be used to make mock meats along with being used for milk.
VOCs or volatile organic compounds are chemicals found in scents and odours. Formaldehyde, benzene, They are present in everyday products like nail polish remover, furniture polish, paint, glue, carpeting, room fresheners, glass cleaners, dishwasher detergents and laundry detergents and in almost all plastic products. VOCs can cause allergies and respiratory disorders.
Are chemicals that mimic the hormone estrogen. Estrogen is a hormone produced in the ovaries, responsible for the production of eggs and regular functioning of the reproduction system. Xenoestrogens act like estrogen and create an imbalance in the body. Xenoestrogens are linked with a variety of health issues like breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes.
58. Zero Waste
Zero waste is a philosophy of cutting down an individual’s waste significantly. It rests on the pillars of
1. Buying products that are not single use and last much longer
2. Better planning, to avoid food wastage and material wastage
3. Use of home composting to biodegrade food leftovers to create fertilizer at home, instead of sending it to the landfill
4. Buying less, so that less waste is generated. The goal is to keep your waste from going to landfills or oceans.