8 Sustainability Terms You Need to Know


This is probably the most important word on this list as it’s mentioned multiple times not only in this article but in the eco-friendly movement.

According to The Good Tradesustainable living means “prioritizing the use of natural and renewable resources” rather than contributing excess amounts of waste and using up resources that can impact future generations.

Carbon Footprint

carbon footprint is a term used to describe the number of greenhouse gases, specifically carbon dioxide, produced by someone or something to support human activity like driving a car or using electricity.

There are a ton of resources that help calculate your personal carbon footprint. Most times, your footprint is divided into at least three categories: home energy, transportation and waste.

The Environmental Protection Agency offers an accurate carbon footprint calculator through a spreadsheet while sites like Footprint Calculator offer a more visual and interactive experience.

Ethical Fashion

According to The Green Hubethical fashion is a design and manufacturing method that cares for people and communities. This method typically considers human rights, animal welfare and the environmental impact at every stage of the design process.

Some examples of ethical fashion brands include Reformation and Girlfriend Collective. Ethical brands like these ensure employees are paid fairly and work in safe environments.


If a product is compostable, it’s organic waste that can be recycled and eventually repurposed. However, these products don’t always break down naturally in a landfill.

Most times, compostable products will be placed in industrial compost facilities to ensure they break down properly. They take much longer to break down if in a landfill, especially if it’s air-locked with no oxygen.


If you want to get literal, “bio” means life and “degrade” means to break down. When something is biodegradable, it breaks down to its basic components and blends back in with the earth when microorganisms, fungi or bacteria consume them.

Plant-based products are more likely to break down into carbon dioxide, water or other natural minerals. In this case, these products mix back into the earth without leaving any toxins behind.


You’ve heard about recycling. Now it’s time to learn about upcycling, or the act of taking something no longer in use and giving it a second life and new function.

If you’ve ever revamped a pair of old jeans because they just don’t fit your vibe anymore, congratulations — you’ve participated in upcycling.



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