Buzzwords for Sustainability
Sustainability is a loaded concept that conjures a host of different definitions and feelings. For early pioneers within the movement, their concerns and practices were often met with side-eyed confusion from the average consumer. However, as temperatures continue to rise and environmental issues come to a head, more companies and consumers have begun adopting green practices to offset the wasteful habits of the past.
While some companies have used sustainability as a buzzword to generate followers and brand loyalty, many businesses have left consumers confused by terminology and empty promises of eco-friendly practices. These days though, more and more companies have begun taking sustainability seriously. The language used to market products and services denotes their commitment to both the health of humans and the environment. Below, we highlight and define common terms that are utilized by businesses to convey sustainable practices.
The Buzzwords of the Sustainability Movement
Our words guide our actions, and our actions speak volumes. Each of these phrases helps us better understand a company's commitment to environmental stewardship. By selecting products and services from businesses that have gone above and beyond the call to action, you are actively helping to reshape consumerism through more intentional buying habits that prioritize the health of our planet.
These terms broadly label items as being “not harmful” to the environment. This phrase is usually ambiguous and non-protected, meaning there aren't any restrictions or requirements attached to using these terms to label products or services. Generally speaking though, this verbiage means that the company has made certain decisions to reduce negative effects on the environment during the sourcing, manufacturing, packaging, or disposal process.
Products and processes that strive to lower energy use for operation and creation are usually deemed ‘energy efficient.’ For example, some companies have explored their options for renewable energy sources such as wind turbines, closed water loops, and solar panels While energy efficient sources may be more expensive initially, they often have a longer lifetime and cost less in the long-term.
As a protected title, food and products must meet specific USDA regulations in order to be called organic. This label guarantees that the foods or products have been made without artificial ingredients or extra chemicals such as pesticides. When an item meets USDA standards, a certification stamp will be included on the product.
A holistic view of environmental protection, the idea of sustainability ensures all aspects of the manufacturing of a product or service meets the needs of the present while leaving resources available for future generations. This term often extends to issues in human equity and economic relief in addition to environmental concerns. The use of the word sustainable thereby conveys a company's commitment to systemic changes throughout the structure of their business model.
This term means that an item will degrade by microorganisms, such as bacteria or fungus, over time. While some items are marked as biodegradable, certain types of materials cannot biodegrade unless they are exposed to over 50 degrees Celsius for an extended amount of time—specifically plastics. While biodegradable products are a positive step forward, certain items, such as biodegradable plastics, cannot fully breakdown, especially in the chilly ocean waters.
Products that can break down in a home or industrial compost system are termed compostable. The difference between biodegradable and compostable is that compostable items are intentionally broken down under certain conditions, whereas biodegradable products utilize microorganisms within products themselves to breakdown. Compostable items are often leftover food items such as banana skins, vegetable cut-offs, and potato peels. Certain products are made using organic materials that can be composted alongside food items.
Items that can either be reused or broken down and converted into new products are considered recyclable. For example, old magazines can be upcycled into a wastebasket or decorative wall art instead of being tossed into the trash. On the other hand, aluminum cans can be broken down and reused to make new aluminum cans.
An important term for consumers and businesses to be aware of is greenwashing. This is when a business or company falsely claims that their production process or products are green in some way. In order to determine if a company is truly committed to sustainability, research and see if their production process and products align with their eco-friendly marketing efforts.
The sustainability movement is an inspiring one that is slowly becoming a standard for all of society. While these terms may only seem like buzzwords, they also signify a change in value for our consumer world. At Golden Arrow, sustainability is more than a buzzword, it's a promise to both our clients and our planet. From the manufacturing process to product creation, Golden Arrow is leading the luxury packaging industry with our commitment to sustainability and future generations. Our products are green from start to finish. To find out more, send us an email at email@example.com.