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20 Sustainable Definitions You Need To Know

The world is en route to greener days - but can you keep up with the latest vocab?

After years of scientific research and public outcry, most industries - from fashion to food, to the packaging sector - are finally beginning to shift their attention towards sustainability. Although there is quite a long way ahead, this wave of new eco-warriors and sustainability gurus has brought about quite a few green words and terms to add to our everyday dictionary.

definitions sustainability greenwashing

We have noticed that certain ones are, without thought, being used interchangeably and are often misunderstood or used in the wrong frame of reference. Which, by the way, is completely understandable - it’s quite a jungle of words out there. The word ‘sustainability’, in fact, does not even have a universally agreed definition. What terms are suitable for which context? Is ‘organic’ the same as ‘eco-friendly’? No worries, we’ve got your back! We have put together a Green Glossary, to remind you, clarify and prevent any misuse of these amazing green words:


Something that can be broken down (decomposed) completely by the action of microorganisms within a short time after being thrown away – typically a year or less. Biodegradable substances include food scraps, cotton, wool, wood and manufactured products based on natural materials.

Carbon Footprint 

A measure of the amount of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere as a result of the activities of a particular individual, organisation or community.


The action of a material that makes a recyclable or compostable material impure, such as food scraps on paper products or trash mixed with recyclables in a recycling bin.

Conscious Consumerism 

Purchases that are made with environmental and ethical considerations in mind, rather than trend-driven.


The study of the relationships between plants, animals, and their environment, and the balances between these relationships.

Ecological/Environmental Footprint 

The measure of the area needed to supply national populations with the resources and area needed to absorb their waste.


Fairtrade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to and securing the rights of, marginalised producers and workers. The Fairtrade Mark is an independent consumer label that can be found on products to ensure that they have been certified with internationally agreed Fairtrade standards.

Fast Fashion 

Inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends. Fast fashion is most commonly manufactured and sourced far from sustainable requirements.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions 

Gases that trap heat in the atmosphere. They include carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and fluorinated gases. They are responsible for the greenhouse effect, leading to global warming.


Disinformation disseminated by an organisation so as to present an environmentally responsible public image.


Refers to a synthetic fibre, shredded from synthetic fabrics like polyester or viscose, which is extremely thin, even slimmer than a strand of silk.

Micro waste 

Refers to microfibers pollution of our rivers and oceans. As synthetic fabrics originate from plastic (PET), for each clothes wash synthetic fabrics release thousands of tiny microfibers creating micro waste. At BLANC we are proud to offer a scientifically approved solution against microplastic pollution from washing: The GuppyFriend Washing Bag, developed by German non-profit initiative STOP! MICRO WASTE.


Liquid CO2 cleaning

Liquid CO2 cleaning is a carbon dioxide-based garment cleaning process and is known to be one of the most eco-friendly processes of cleaning clothes. This is because the CO2 used in this process is captured as a by-product of existing industrial processes.


Produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.


In sustainable terms this refers to reducing waste. This can be done by buying products in bulk, avoid single-use items and overpackaged goods.


Reusing items or materials is a golden rule when it comes to sustainable living. Reuse until no longer possible, then recycle.


The process of converting waste into reusable materials and objects. At BLANC we are dedicated to always make sure to recycle our waste, which you can find out more about in our blog post BLANC’s Fight Against Plastic Pollution.  


As stated earlier, there is no universally agreed definition, but this particular one is very commonly used: Development that meets the requirements of the present without compromising the capacity of generations to come to meet their needs. The concept of sustainability is composed of three pillars: economic, environmental and social.

Sustainable fashion 

Clothing, shoes and accessories that are manufactured, advertised, used and disposed of in the most sustainable manner possible, taking into account both environmental and socio-economic aspects. Consider it the “farm to table” of the fashion world.

Supply Chain 

A system of organisations, people, activities and resources involved in moving a product or service all the way from supplier to customer. Companies such as People Tree, carry out sustainable supply chains and work with eco-friendly, certified producers and keep all their supplies as local as possible. They make sure to have a minimal impact on the planet, from the raw material to the finished product.

Wet Cleaning 

the eco-friendly alternative to traditional dry cleaning - used by BLANC. This technology uses water and biodegradable, health-friendly detergents instead of the toxic and potentially carcinogenic PERC used by traditional dry cleaners. Anything with a dry clean label can be wet cleaned. Even better, the gentler process results in a brighter, fresher, softer clean.

wet cleaning

There you have it - an eco-dictionary to have at your fingertips for any (sustainable) occasion. After all, being green is the new ultimate trend, so it is good to come prepared. And since green is the new black, why not start with a sustainable wardrobe transformation? If you are in need of some inspiration, our recent blog post 7 Sustainable Brands To Love in 2019 is a goldmine. We hope this cleared up a bit of the confusion, and we are in high spirits if your vocabulary turned a bit greener!

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