5 Words or Phrases You Need to Know To Talk Sustainability

We are breaking down some of the most commonly used sustainability words and phrases that are often misused and misunderstood.

Facts on Business Sustainability:

1. Greenhouse Gases

Greenhouse Gases  are pollutants created mostly by human activity that trap the sun’s heat in our atmosphere, causing the temperature of our climate to rise over time. Most common and dangerous among the gases are carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride. Carbon monoxide is a weak greenhouse gas, but also has an impact.) CO2 is released from burning fossil fuels, either to power vehicles or generate electricity. Methane is another word for natural gas. Nitrous oxide is used in manufacturing and is the key ingredient in Nylon. Hydrofluorocarbons are used to make cold air in your refrigerator and air conditioner.

2. Carbon Footprints

Carbon Footprints can be looked at individually, by company, by product, etc, but are simply the impact on the planet based on how much carbon dioxide is generated. A person’s footprint includes all of their activities and consumption over the course of a year, for example, whereas for a product it includes the impact of the contents, how much energy was used to manufacture them and then transport them to the store or the end-user.

3. Composting

Composting is the process of turning organic waste into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. It’s a great thing to do at home with your banana peels and dead leaves. However, it’s a common misconception that plastic items that say “compostable” can be tossed into your green bin or into an at-home composter. Learn more here but know that things like plant based plastics (PLAs) require very specific circumstances to break down and require the use of an industrial compost facility. Industrial composting facilities are not accessible to the public in Los Angeles.

4. Biodegradable

Biodegradable essentially means that an item will break down in nature and ultimately disappear back into the earth without causing any harm and within a reasonable amount of time (usually a few months). An example of this is a bamboo fork.

5. Recycling

Recycling simply means to reprocess a resource like aluminum or glass that can be used again and again. In theory is a great way to cut back on waste, however, so little of what can be recycled actually is recycled. And so much of what can’t be recycled, ends up in recycling bins. Learn more here.

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