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Greening Your Vocabulary – Confusing Terms Deciphered

By: Rachel Thomas, Eco Promotional Products, Inc. 

The act of going green has caught on but our vocabulary has not. The recent years have brought a wave
of companies, products and people “going green.” The informers of these groups throw words around 
such as “environmental stewardship,” “sustainability,” and “social compliance.” We hear these words 
almost every day but if we were asked to define them, could we? For a majority of people the answer 
would be no. Let’s go back and re-learn some of the words and terms that define the green world. 

Socially Compliant- a continuing process in which the involved parties keep on looking for better 
ways to protect the health, safety, and fundamental rights of their employees, and to protect and 
enhance the community and environment in which they operate (Businessdictionary). 

Eco-friendly- practices or products that have a small impact on the environment (Greeneco). 

Sustainable- long term durability that does not undermine social and environmental systems of 
support (Greeneco). 

Environmental Stewardship- a system under which farmers and land managers receive funding 
for implementing schemes to protect the environment, such as preventing soil erosion or 
protection wildlife (Agricultural Dictionary). 

PET (Polyethyleneterephthalate) – a resin of the polyester family used for beverage, food and 
other liquid containers (Greeneco). 

Federal Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified- International organization to promote responsible
management of the world’s forests (Greeneco). 

Corporate Social Responsibility- organizations take society’s interest into account by taking 
responsibility for the impact of their activities on customers, suppliers, employees, shareholders, 
communities, and of course the environment in everything that they do (Greeneco). 

Fossil Fuels- and petroleum based fuel: oil, coal, oil shale, natural gas, gasoline, etc. 

Biodegradable- capable of decomposing in nature within a reasonably short period of time 

Carbon Footprint- the total amount of greenhouse gases produced directly and indirectly to 
support human activities, an individual’s would be the sum of carbon dioxide emissions you create 
every day (Greeneco). 

Carbon Offset- new method by which carbon emissions produced by one process or practice can 
be offset by reducing carbon emissions produced by another process or practice (Greeneco). 

Proposition 65 Compliant- Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986, protects 
California citizens and the State’s drinking water sources from chemicals known to cause cancer, 
birth defects or other reproductive harm, and informs citizens about exposures to such chemicals 

Greenhouse Effect- warming of the earth’s atmosphere due to pollution by gases. It is now feared 
that humans are increasing the levels of pollution and causing climate changes and melting polar 
icecaps (Greeneco).
Energy Efficient- products or systems that use less energy to perform as well or better than the 
standard products (Greeneco).
Post-consumer Recycled Content- The total amount of greenhouse gases produced directly and 
indirectly to support human activities (Greenresidential).