The Green Glossary: Sustainability Words To Help You Make Smart Choices

There can be a major language barrier when it comes to trying to live and purchase more sustainably. To shop smart and live a more sustainable lifestyle that is eco-conscious, you first need to understand what these green words mean, only then can you be confident in your choices and feel good about how you’re contributing towards a cleaner planet.

Words like “green” and “eco-friendly” have earned themselves a spot on the Federal Trade Commission’s no-no list so we’ve all got to be careful how we use them. These terms are so broad and all-encompassing that product claims are nearly impossible to substantiate.

We have pulled together this glossary to help you understand some of the eco lingo and common terms used to help you along on your journey. 


Bagasse is a bi-product of the sugarcane harvesting process, the result is a diverse and easily malleable plant material that can be moulded into loads of fantastic products. Using only heat and water in production, this material is super sustainable and certified home compostable.


Biodegradable products are designed to break down via microorganisms like bacteria. While microorganisms can assist in breaking down a biodegradable product, it’s not always possible. Biodegradable plastics often still reach our oceans, consumers are not told of the time frame required or about any possible toxic impacts of the degradation. 

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Biodiversity is all the different kinds of life you'll find in one area. The variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms like bacteria make up our natural world. Each of these species and organisms works together in ecosystems, like an intricate web, to maintain balance and support life.

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A love of life, living, and affinity for living things.

Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint is the total emissions of carbon dioxide that an individual or company puts out and — if looking at it in eco-friendly terms — is also responsible for. A carbon footprint is not simply the carbon put out by heating your home or driving to work. An overall footprint is also the carbon you cause by purchasing certain foods and products.

One way to reduce your carbon footprint is to choose a vegan lifestyle, reducing your dependency on meat (a huge source of carbon emissions across the globe). You can also choose to support brands and companies who are actively taking measures to reduce their carbon footprint created by manufacturing (like us here at B&B Press)

Carbon Balanced Print

When the CO2 created from print production is at an absolute minimum, the emissions are balanced through the Carbon Balanced Printer scheme which funds World Land Trust to protect our biologically significant and threatened rainforests. It’s printed on Carbon Balanced Paper and showcases a Carbon Balanced Print logo to show authenticity.

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When choosing to use Carbon Balanced Paper, printed by a Carbon Balanced Printer, you can be confident in knowing you are choosing one of the most sustainable print solutions available.

Carbon Balanced

Carbon Balancing is the term we use as a Carbon Balanced Printer.

Carbon Neutral is a registered trademark of Natural Capital Partners. Carbon Balanced Paper and Print is a registered trademark of World Land Trust.

Carbon Sinks

Any systems that absorb more carbon than they emit, such as forests, soils, and oceans.

Closed-Loop / Circular Economy

A “closed-loop” cycle or system is one where items are returned to their natural state, the system ensures that produced items will never end up in a landfill. But isn’t recycling a closed-loop system? Sadly, recycling should be, but the process is energy-intensive. Not to mention only a small percentage of products are recyclable.

It’s up to brands and companies to design their products with things like renewable resources and compostable materials if we want a true closed-loop system.

One great brand that is doing exactly that is circular & co


Composting is when you break down carbon-based items. Compostable items can be broken down within months when placed in healthy soil where microorganisms are. It’s one of the best ways you can help the earth.

A few examples of non-compostable products are plastics, glass and metal. Sadly, these items are not capable of compost and, in a perfect world should be recycled.

In theory, packaging labelled as 'compostable' are made from vegetable matter like potato or corn starch which fully breaks down. However, the conditions have to be right for them to break down. 


Protection from harm.


The removal of a forest or stand of trees from land that is then converted to non-forest use. Deforestation can involve conversion of forest land to farms, ranches, or urban use. The most concentrated deforestation occurs in tropical rainforests. 



Eco-friendly is a fairly broad term, but it basically stands for being kind to the earth. Unlike “organic,” which must be approved by the USDA, eco-friendly is non-specific and often thrown around as a greenwashing word. There are no restrictions or requirements, so when you see a product or company that claims to be eco-friendly so it’s worth researching how. If a company calls a product eco-friendly simply because the plastic bottle can be recycled, is that enough? 


The word “energy-efficient” often refers to an item or task that uses less energy. This means it also reduces its carbon footprint.

FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)

An international, non-profit organisation established in 1993 to promote the practice of sustainable forestry management of the world’s forests. The FSC sets standards on forest products, along with certifying and labelling them as eco-friendly.


Greenwashing is a word used to describe the fluff language many manufacturers and brands use to make their products appear green and sustainable. 


Light Emitting Diode. LED lights last longer and are more energy-efficient, even though they are slightly more expensive to purchase initially.

Linear Economy

The traditional way of doing things based on the take, make, and dispose model of production.

Net Zero 

Net Zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away. 


Microplastics are the microscopic remnants of plastics that wind up and break down in our landfills and oceans. Microplastics are a growing concern and can be caused by everything from water bottles, packaging materials, synthetic clothing and even tyres. 


Permaculture is an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living. It takes a more mindful approach to gardening, living, cooking and connection with nature and others. Permaculture living can be done anywhere, from cities to seasides, and can be harnessed through gardening, agriculture and foraging- to name a few.


PLA (or polylactic acid) is a compostable plastic made from plant-based materials – most commonly corn starch.

Recycled Paper

Paper that is reconstituted into paper again.

Paper is now regarded as one of the world’s great sustainable products but paper choice can influence how sustainable a printing method actually is. We’re often led to believe we should only use recycled paper to be more green. The truth is, virgin fibres are needed to maintain the paper cycle. Without new fibres from new trees, the paper cycle can’t be maintained.  

Recycled fibres degrade after several uses and the paper industry needs fresh fibre to keep the renewable cycle going. As long as the new fibres are from sustainably-managed forests, you have the green light on using virgin paper or recycled paper.


Rewilding is all about restoring wild nature.

Sustainable / Sustainability

Being sustainable means not depleting natural resources in order to maintain an ecological balance. 

Triple Bottom Line

The TBL consists of three elements: profit, people, and the planet. The triple bottom line aims to measure the financial, social, and environmental performance of a company over time.


Despite the best of intentions, wishcycling is when sustainably-focused consumers place questionable items in recycling bins in hopes of them being recycled. While doing so comes from a planet-loving place, it often causes more harm than good.


World Land Trust (WLT)

World Land Trust are an international conservation charity that protects the world’s most biologically significant and threatened habitats acre by acre. By printing with us you’ll be supporting WLT.

Zero Waste

The aim is to send nothing to landfill, incinerators or into the ocean. 

Know Who to Trust With Your Printing Requirements

Being environmentally friendly won't impact the print quality and it can be a huge benefit for your business. But first, you need to know what to look out for. This checklist is the perfect companion for print buyers and marketing professionals. We've made it easier to decide what you need out of your print to ensure you're making the best decision possible for the planet and your business. 

Click the button below to get started today.

Sustainability Checklist

Explore the best of sustainable
Printing Tips

You’re probably well aware of the growing importance and demand of eco-friendly products.

Modern technology has made these kinds of items increasingly cheaper to produce and more visually appealing. They’re a great way of lowering your business’ environmental impact - but how exactly do you produce the best kind of print using these methods?

Our checklist will give you the best advice for creating an impactful sustainable print solution.