Eco-Encyclopedia

Biodegradable: a substance that can be broken down by bacteria, fungus or other biological processes.

Carbon Dioxide: a molecule of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms, a crucial molecule to life on earth, with chemical properties that trap the sun’s energy as heat to warm the atmosphere.

Climate Change: changing long-term weather patterns due largely to human activity.

Carbon footprint: is the total of all of the greenhouse gas emissions emitted by one user’s energy-requiring activities. All people, businesses, plants and animals have an impact on the levels of gases in the atmosphere and oceans because we all require energy to live. Transforming energy from one form to another creates by-products that can be measured.

Carbon offsets: credits that you can buy from vendors who will offset your emissions by contributing to energy-efficient projects, methane capturing activities, planting trees, and much more. Click here to download David Suzuki’s guide to “Purchasing Carbon Offsets.”

Divesting: selling off stocks or bonds from unethical and environment-damaging companies and industries, such as fossil fuel companies, and investing in socially and environmentally responsible organizations. Click here to see which Canadian universities have made the choice to divest.

Eco-friendly (Environmentally friendly): goods, practices, services and laws which minimize or eliminate negative impacts on the environment. Goods described as ‘eco-friendly’ are manufactured in ways that are less harmful to our ecosystems than other products.

 Fossil Fuels: the remains of organisms (vegetation or animal) trapped underground for thousands (tens of thousands) of years store carbon as oil, coal or gas. Crafty humans have figured out a way to use these reserves as energy to fuel our daily activities.

Global warming: the trend of increase in the Earth’s average surface temperature due to greenhouse gases accumulating in the atmosphere. For more info, check out Global Warming 101.

Greenwashing: the act of making your company appear to be eco-friendly to increase consumer interest – this is more of a marketing tactic than a true commitment to reducing negative environmental impacts.

Organic: no artificial additives food additives or synthetic pesticides and food (or clothing) is usually processed with fewer artificial methods, materials and conditions.