Thursday, August 6, 2009

Whatchu Talkin’ ‘Bout Part II - Bio-plastic And Other New Eco Terms

Over the past couple reviews I have used the word ‘bio-plastic’ and it suddenly hit me that it has been quite a long while since I put out the first Green Terms post. In an effort to keep everyone up on the latest and greatest terminology, so you can shop and explore like the savvy Greenies I know you all are, here is part II in no particular order.

Bio-plastic: Where most common plastic (such as polyester or water bottles) is created from fossil fuel, known as petroleum, and turned into PET (polyethylene terephthalate), bio-plastic is different. Commonly created from plant based resources (such as corn starch) bio-plastic is as durable as its PET counterpart however it is less harmful to the environment as it can be composted in commercial facilities and will break down there in about 90 days. It produces far less emission to create as well as in its breakdown so the overall lifecycle impact is far less than petroleum.

Lifecycle: Sometimes referred to as ‘cradle to grave’ a life cycle assessment measures environmental impact of an item or service for its entire life (upcycling, recycling and reusing all help extend the lifecycle of an item ensuring less new is created).

Greenwashing: Greening up our lives has moved into the forefront of most people’s minds as more and more people are becoming aware of the very real impact we as humans are having on the planet and its resources. Many companies and organizations have decided to use this as a way to cleverly market their products regardless of the actual environmental impact. When a company touts their products as Green (or eludes to an illusion of such), yet the overall environmental impact is negative, Greenwashing has occurred. Diligence in research and review will make us savvy consumers in the realm of Green products and services!

Organic: Commonly confused with the word natural, organic methods and practices can be applied to all manner of items from food to clothing. Organic food is free of all chemical based products (pesticides, growth hormones, additives, etc). Organic clothing is created from natural fibers grown using organic methods (cotton, bamboo, hemp, soy, wool). Additional items such as baby supplies (lotions, toys) and cosmetics are offered in organic versions as well.

Community Supported Agriculture (CSA): From Wikipedia - “is a socio-economic model of agriculture and food distribution. A CSA consists of a community of individuals who pledge support to a farm operation so that the farmland becomes the community's farm, with the growers and consumers providing mutual support and sharing the risks and benefits of food production. CSA’s focus is usually on a system of weekly delivery or pick-up of vegetables and fruit in a vegetable box scheme, sometimes dairy products and meat”. Plans in my area can run from $300 - $1200 depending on the items acquired and length of membership (many are seasonal) and the items are chosen by the farm for current availability in the crop.

Socially Conscious: A basic awareness and open eye to the conditions of the entire human race. Many people will define it differently but I believe it is both a global as well as local consciousness to provide as much as possible to all people. This can be achieved through monetary means, volunteering, product, service or trade.

Bio-diesel: Fuel for a vehicle (or other motorized machine), as well as home heating units, as sourced from resources other than petroleum but typically vegetable based (such as corn based ethanol).

Carbon offset: A literal counterbalance to the greenhouse gasses (CO2) emitted by any individual. Each carbon offset “credit” is allegedly equivalent to one metric ton of CO2 being removed from the atmosphere. For example, planting a tree or investing in a wind farm are considered an offset. The term and practice is controversial as some feel it encourages a lack of awareness to current practice as the bad behaviors can simply be “bought off”.

Part I of Whatchu Talkin’ ‘Bout includes these eco terms:

earth day
passive solar
photovoltaic panels
wind turbine
renewable resource
global warming
climate change
carbon footprint

What are some of the terms you would like to see defined? Let me know in the comments section!

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