Sustainability Terms: a Friendly Guide

Understanding all of the eco friendly terms out there can be confusing, so we’ve created—and are committed to continually expanding— the following list of sustainability terms, definitions, certifications, and organizations.

An organization that helps companies donate 1% of their sales to planet conservation funds.

American Vegetarian Association

100% tested and certified vegetarian.

Businesses that have met standardized public transparency, legal accountability, and social and environmental performance criteria that balance profit and purpose metrics. B Corps are redefining success in business, and accelerating. A global culture shift toward a more inclusive and sustainable economy.

A product’s ability to be decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms. Biodegrade products frequently leave behind harmful materials including microplastics and metals.


A man-made chemical used in many consumer plastics (water bottles, CDs, etc.) that have been demonstrated to mimic and block estrogen in the body causing altered brain development, obesity, and reproductive abnormalities.

Carbon Neutral

Achieves net zero carbon emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon offsetting (investing in wind or solar energy) or by emitting no carbon at all.

Products that have measured and offset their carbon emissions following the specific guidelines of Climate Neutral Org.

A product’s ability to disintegrate into natural components in a designated environment, leaving no toxicity and adding nutrients to the soil that benefit plants and trees.

Produced from renewable, non-GMO raw materials, with eco-friendly manufacturing and recyclable packaging.

Provides full ingredient transparency; tested and verified to not contain any ingredients of current environmental concern.

Ensured organic from raw material to manufacturing, must be a minimum 70% organic and dyes or other additives must meet certain standards.

Greenhouse gas

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere including carbon dioxide and methane.


Containing fewer allergens than normal, but not zero. No countries provide certifications for what exactly constitutes a hypoallergenic product.

Unites administrations, civil societies, and industry in reducing the flow of conflict diamonds – rough diamonds used to finance wars against governments – around the world. Gems are traced from mine to store.

Demonstrated to not have been tested on animals.


A form of microplastic that our synthetic clothing releases every time we do laundry, getting into our water supply.

OEKO-TEX certified

Confirms the human-ecological safety of textile products and leather articles from all stages of production (raw materials, yarns, fabrics, ready-to-use end products). Some also attest to socially and environmentally sound conditions in production facilities.

Chemicals used in many kinds of products to increase shelf life, or slow down degradation.

Foods that: are not grown using pesticides, are not genetically modified, are not treated with synthetic hormones or antibiotics, are not made using synthetic colors, preservatives, or flavorings, and are raised in their natural environment (pastures, etc).

3rd party verification that a company follows labor, wage, health, safety, environmental, and management standards.