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Defining the ‘Green’ Terms

3 Mins read
Green is not just a color any more, it is a movement!  

This article talks about all the ‘green’ terms or eco-related terms you will be encountering often as you kickstart your sustainability journey of making SHIFTS in your lifestyles that are environment friendly. 

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Eco-friendly/ environmentally-friendly: Eco- friendly literally means earth friendly or not harmful to the environment. Meaning either products, actions, or practices that basically doesn’t harm, or at the very least, aims for the lowest impact for the environment. It could range from green practices to products that help conserve our resources like water and energy to products that prevent contributions to air, water and land pollution. Can we say that this term is the mother of all the green terms that we will be defining here now? Oh yes! 

Sustainable/ Sustainability: This word can’t be any more obvious. The word Sustain is defined in the dictionary as something that is continuous or kept at a certain level. But as easy as its root word is defined, many are confused about what sustainability really is and that’s why we’re here to help you. To put it simply, sustainability is more about managing resources wherein we avoid the depletion of the Earth’s resources and strive to keep a balance between our needs as humans and keeping the needs of the earth to thrive. 

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Zero-waste: A word or if we may call it a lifestyle, that is becoming more & more popular as we have begun to realize the damage we are causing to our planet. With small incremental efforts, the ultimate goal of a zero-waste lifestyle is to not have any waste go to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. There are growing number of people adopting this lifestyle where their yearly trash output is small enough to fit inside a small mason jar! Well, while this may seem intimidating, you can start by adopting simple practices like buying in bulk, or visiting zero waste stores with re-fill concepts.

Here are the 5R’s that can help you manage your waste efficiently and move towards the goal to zero: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, and Rot.

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Ethical: A term that is about the practice behind the production of the items that we love. It taps into the conditions of the people who produce the goods that we buy and ethical product supports the fair and moral treatment of those people (fair trade practices). Not only that, it’s production also keeps in mind the planet, by using materials that are mindfully sourced, organic & cruelty free. 

Circular Economy: This is basically an economic system of closed loops in which raw materials, components and produce lose their value as little as possible. Renewable energy sources and systems thinking are used in order to re-duce, re-use & re-cycle. A great example could be deposit returns schemes where you can return your food containers or even make-up jars & toiletry bottles to companies in exchange for fresh ones with an incentivized discount system. 

Carbon Footprint & Carbon Neutral:  Carbon footprint is the total amount of greenhouse gases (including carbon dioxide and methane) that are generated as a result of our consumption and activities. For example, the carbon footprint of a bottle of water includes the CO2 or CO2 equivalent emitted during the manufacture of the bottle itself plus the amount emitted during the transportation of the bottle to the consumer.

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The theory of carbon neutrality is based on the aim that the sum of all the greenhouse gases any entity puts into and takes from the atmosphere will balance out to zero. For example, for a company to be carbon neutral, any emissions they create must be offset by emissions they reduce elsewhere.

This practice provides a planet-friendly alternative to whatever is being used, whether that’s airplanes, livestock, construction tools or cosmetics. It is often put into place through the use of carbon offsets, which use various systems to measure and value activities that are either greenhouse gas-emitting or offsetting that then balances off the two sides.

Greenwashing: Well, it’s not all positive! It sounds clean, but it’s a horrific business practice where a company markets themselves as environment friendly when in reality, that’s not the case. It is a deceitful marketing gimmick that misleads consumers who prefer to buy goods from eco-conscious brands. This is where you need to read up labels, understand ingredients & packaging or read more about the company itself to understand the real truth before giving in to purchasing ‘green products’!

Hope these help you define your own goals and get you ready to take your first step into the green world. Well, as intimidating as this may sound, you don’t have to do this perfectly. Remember, small, imperfect SHIFTS, can together truly transform the world! 

You’re not alone. Share your experiences, tips, tricks; post your questions or even challenge what we’ve written! Let’s build an eco-conscious community together!

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