Sustain | Offset | Recycle | Renew
Carbon Calculator: calculating the amount of carbon dioxide created by your home or travel requires knowing the science formulas and working a lot of math problems. To make is more user friendly and easy to understand, companies that sell carbon offset credits have easy to understand and use websites. You enter simple, known information and the website’s behind the scene algorithms do the number crunching. One easy to use site is www.CountDownYourCarbon.org. For the math inclined, consider reviewing www.epa.gov.
Carbon Footprint: this is the measurement of the impact of human activities have on the planet in terms of GHGs produced, measured in units (usually pounds)of carbon dioxide.
Carbon Neutral: this is attempted to be achieved by calculating your personal climate-damaging emissions, reducing them where possible and purchasing carbon offset credits to neutralize your impact on the environment. Carbon neutral implies that all carbon emissions are offset. This is very difficult to achieve. A more correct term would be to achieve a low carbon footprint.
Carbon Neutral Projects: purchased carbon offset credits fund projects such as reforestation (tree planting), renewable energy production, methane gas capture, alternative energy capture such as windmills or carbon sequestration through projects such as clam aqua culture.
Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and/or Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI)-certified. Both of these labels identify and verify environmentally responsible wood-based products including paper. FSC is an international standard. SFI is an American standard required of members of the American Forest and Paper Association.
Global Warming: is a gradual increase in the global atmospheric temperatures caused by the emission of gases that rap the sun’s heat in the earth’s atmosphere. There is vast scientific evidence that the atmospheric temperature is rising. There remains a debate about the causes and the possibility that the planet is in a natural warming phase.
Greenhouse Gases (GHG): There are four major types of GHG – carbon dioxide, water vapor, methane and nitrous oxide.
Post-consumer: When a consumer uses a product, and the used product enters the recycling stream, it is called post-consumer waste.
Pre-consumer Waste: when manufacturing scraps are reintroduced into the production process, before then became a consumer useable product, they are called pre-consumer waste.
Process Chlorine Free (PCF): Chlorine is used to whiten paper and has significant environmental negative effect. PCF labeled paper most commonly means that it was recycled without chlorine, but not address the paper’s original manufacturing process.
Recyclable: a processed that is able to be reprocessed. Recycling facilities vary considerable by locale and by the material to be recycled. The fact that the item could be recyclable, does not guarantee that it will be recycled.
Recycled: a new product made from reprocessed post-consumer or pre-consumer waste is recycled. The percentage of re-used material in products called recycled can vary tremendously. There is no “recycled” watchdog agency other than truth in advertising laws.
Tree Free: typically refers to paper or products that do not use tree fiber, but rather use other plant fiber materials such as hemp or sugarcane.
Vegetable-based Ink: traditional printer’s inks were made from petroleum products. The new generation of printing inks are made from soy and linseed. Vegetable-based inks are more easily de-inked in the paper recycling process.
Special thanks to Successful Meetings magazine for it’s ongoing commitment to green meetings educational articles from which some of this glossary information was derived.