The New Green Language

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Embracing new, environmentally sustainable ideas is often confusing. New terms like “Greenhouse Gases”, “Carbon Footprint”, “Greenwashing”, and even the “Three R’s” (nope, not what you learned in school) are tossed about by a new generation of green techies but for most of us, they may as well be speaking in Latin. Before a company can truly become green, the principals must understand the dynamics, procedures, and the corresponding terminologies.

Let’s start with Recycle. Sounds easy. Most of us are familiar with recycling glass bottles, plastics, and newspapers. The confusion starts with plastic coding, that little number inside the recycling logo on the product. All recyclable plastics are now coded with a numerical value between 1 and 7, representing the type of material used to produce them. However, in most parts of the country, only plastics coded 1-3 are generally being recycled. The others end up in a landfill for the next eon or so. So, instead of simply recycling, we now use the 3R’s: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Carefully consider the waste before purchasing an item; try to purchase an item that can be reused at least several times; and, of course, continue to recycle what you know can be recycled.

Greenhouse gases refers to all gases in our atmosphere, but generally refers to the elevated amount of carbon dioxide (CO2 ), a major contributor to global warming. A carbon footprint is a measure of human activity on the environment in terms of greenhouse gases produced, in units of pounds of carbon dioxide. Just about everything we do, from washing our clothes to driving a car to lighting an office building, increases our impact or carbon footprint. The major environmental goal in Going Green is to become as close to carbon neutral as possible.

Greenwashing is the intentional or unintentional misleading of consumers into believing their product or service is environmentally sustainable and comparable or more effective than its conventional counterparts. Companies must take extreme care to not overstate, and make sure to back its claims, or consumers may lose faith in green purchasing, setting back the entire movement.

These are just a few examples of the new green jargon. More appear regularly, but don’t get caught up in the terminology! Learning the basics of the new green language can not only make you green savvy, but can also help you to develop a healthier and greener business environment. Win, win!

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