Talk the Talk: Basic Eco Vocab

Eco Vocab Basics

We love supporting green school fundraisers and reusable bags that help keep our world a little more clean and sustainable. What does “sustainability” mean? Read below to learn some terms that often come up in conversations about the environment and going green, and see how you can help Mixed Bag Designs in our journey to spread awareness about living a green lifestyle!

Carbon Footprint

A carbon footprint measures the total amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions used or given off by a service or product. Both of these contribute to global warming and are important to keep track of when trying to be environmentally responsible.

Food Miles

The “food miles” measurement estimates environmental costs that are directly related to food transport from the farmer down to the consumer. Aspects that impact this measurement are how food is grown, what resources and chemicals are used, how it is stored, transported from location to location, and finally how it is processed and cooked. Lately, there is an emphasis on the importance of buying produce and other food items locally to help keep farmers in business and help reduce the amount of pollution spent on food transport.


This term refers to the practice of recycling items by giving them away for free or giving them to a local organization that is able to use them. Instead of throwing out old books and clothes, they can often be “freecycled” back into society to be used again and ultimately prevent more garbage from piling up and resources from being wasted.


The practice of upcycling involves converting no longer usable materials into new or different materials or products that have a higher value. As opposed to recycling, which reduces materials back to their raw material form, upcycling involves re-purposing products in a creative or crafty way.


Sustainability relates to using methods of harvesting a resource that take care not to deplete the resource being used or causing permanent damage to human health and the environment. There are several definitions of the word; in this context, sustainability refers to living within our limits and understanding connections among the economy, society, and environment. It also refers to equitable distribution of resources and opportunities.


This is a shortened version of the phrase “permanent agriculture”, which aims to develop sustainable and efficient agricultural ecosystems. Often times, it involves copying patterns and practices that already occur in nature. When practiced correctly, permaculture minimizes waste, labor, and energy use.

Phantom Power

When appliances and electronics are switched off or not in use, they still draw power in and use it. It is also known as “vampire power” and “phantom load”.


Compost is decayed organic material from the yard or backyard made to provide nutrients to plants and act as fertilizer. It is organic waste collected from kitchen or yard garbage that gets placed in a specific way to encourage natural decomposition.


This acronym refers to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. It is a certification program developed by the US Green Building Council. It consists of a rating system with four certification levels that each correspond to a specific number of credits earned in green design categories.


GMOs’s, or genetically modified organisms, have had their DNA altered by engineering techniques to make them “better” in some way or help producers increase their harvests and output. Often times, they are designed to be seedless or resistant to certain pesticides.

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