Eco terms are somewhat confusing at times. Can you distinguish biodegradable from compostable? How about the use of a Mobius Loop from a Green Dot? The Ateliers Verts Top 10 Eco Terms is a simple description of frequently used terms.

Means conforming to accepted moral standards covering human rights, animal rights and the environment.

Image: Ethical Company Organisation


Means of food or farming methods produced or involving production without the use of chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or other artificial chemicals.

Organic - Soil Association
Image: The Soil Association UK

Means better prices, decent working conditions, local sustainability, and fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world.

Image: Fairtrade foundation


Recycling is the process of converting waste materials into new materials and objects. It is an alternative to "conventional" waste disposal that can save material and help lower greenhouse gas emissions. Not to be confused with UPCYCLED which means a very specific form of recycling that turns waste into a material or product that is of a higher quality.

There are two well used images: 

Mobius Loop
A Mobius Loop, which means the object can be recycled.
Green Dot
The Green Dot, which means the producer has made a contribution to recovering and recycling of packaging in Europe, so the product isn't necessarily made from recycled materials or recyclable.

Means that by sourcing from a local supplier, the damage to the environment related to the shipping of the product is reduced.

SustainableImage: pond5

Means the not being harmful to the environment or depleting natural resources, and thereby supporting long-term ecological balance.

SustainableImage: pond5

Means simply not being harmful to the environment.

Eco FriendlyImage: Rahee Hawk

Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero carbon dioxide emissions by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or simply eliminating carbon emissions altogether.

Carbon Neutral
Image: Climate Neutral Now is an initiative launched by UN Climate Change.

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.

VeganImage: The Vegan Society UK

Not to be confused with BIODEGRADABLE. Capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms and thereby avoiding pollution. For example compostable bags are made of natural plant starch, and do not produce any toxic material. Compostable bags break down readily in a composting system through microbial activity to form compost.Biodegradable bags however are often still plastic bags that have microorganisms added to break down the plastic.

CompostableImage: Products certified to be industrially compostable according to the European standard EN 13432/14955 may bear the ‘seedling’ logo


©Ateliers Verts Ltd. January 2020

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