A quick reference to common terms you will come
across throughout The Greener Girl website.
The term “green” means to be environmentally-friendly. Products that are truly “green” are often durable, energy efficient, made with recycled materials, and can also be recycled. “Green” products also do not create the demand for the production of toxic chemicals or leave harmful residue during disposal.
- Green Beauty refers to products that are sourced from natural ingredients that are safe and healthy.
The phrase “go green” means to make choices that minimize or reverse the negative impact of our actions on the earth and it’s resources and does not rob future generations of the same resources. Someone who is “going green” will pursue knowledge and practices that can lead to more environmentally friendly and ecologically responsible decisions and lifestyles, which can help protect the environment and sustain its natural resources for current and future generations.
A marketing campaign perpetrating this practice for the sole purpose of helping companies increase their product sales by appealing to ecologically conscious buyers, despite the invalidity of true “green” value. To avoid purchasing “greenwashed” products do your research to determine if what they market is true.
Also earth-friendly/environmentally friendly. It means no harm to the environment. This term most commonly refers to products that contribute to green living or practices that help conserve resources like water and energy. Eco-friendly products also prevent contributions to air, water and land pollution. Being eco-friendly does not create the demand for the production of toxic chemicals or leave harmful residue during disposal.
“Natural” means that the ingredients were derived from nature, their original source is plant, mineral or even animal based rather than chemically derived in a lab. Products labeled “natural,” according to the USDA definition, do not contain artificial ingredients or preservatives and the ingredients are only minimally processed. However, be wary as the Food and Drug Administration has no clear definition for the word “natural” on labeling. Your best bet is to study the ingredients.
This term means that ingredients are organically farmed and is regulated by the FDA. A product only has to contain a certain percentage of organic matter to be declared “organic” on its label, and this percentage can vary state to state. The USDA Organic seal is deal because that means the product contains at least 95% organic ingredients. It offers government-backed assurance that products are grown and processed without the use of toxic chemicals, antibiotics, and synthetic growth hormones. Certified Organic herbs and plants are usually grown under ideal conditions on a farm and produced according to standards which translate into no harmful pesticides, fertilizers or GMO plants (genetically modified organisms) to enhance their growth.
- Organic fabrics are textiles made from materials that are raised or grown without the use of chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, or other toxic substances.
- Organic beeswax & honey beekeepers have to meet production standards and conditions to be certified organic. Not only do plants — the bees’ source of nectar — need to be pesticide-free, their entire foraging area does, too. Organic hives cannot use non-organic honey, sugar, or antibiotics.
Non-GMO means non-genetically modified organisms. GMO organisms are created in a laboratory using genetic modification/engineering techniques. Scientists and consumer and environmental groups have cited many health and environmental risks with foods containing GMOs. Look for the Non-GMO verified certification to ensure your food and other products are free from GMOs.
Grass fed simply means that the animals are allowed to forage and graze for their own food. They may be given close substitutes like alfalfa during the winter, but unlike grain-fed animals, the emphasis is still on providing the closest thing to a natural diet as possible.
That being said, grass fed animals can still be given hormones and antibiotics so do not assume they are free of either of these unless it is stated on the label. Also, while the USDA says that animals must pasture during growing season, growing season isn’t defined so there may be some level of confinement. On meat labels, producers can make a “grass fed” claim after submitting a one-time label application with the USDA, with required documentation to support that the “grass fed” claim means the animals were not given any grain. However, there is no requirement for on-farm inspections and no requirement for annual review or auditing of the producer’s records to ensure compliance. Labels on dairy products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires no verification or on-farm inspection for dairy producers making a “grass fed” labeling claim.
A “cage free” claim on a product means that the animals were not confined in cages. However, it does not mean that the animal has access to the outdoors.
To ensure the cage-free claim has been verified, look for these seals or shields: USDA Organic, USDA Grademark (Grade AA, Grade A), Animal Welfare Approved, Certified Humane by Humane Farm Animal Care (HFAC), American Humane Certified + “Free Range.”
“Pasture raised” labels means that the animals were raised for at least some portion of their lives on pasture or with access to a pasture, not continually confined indoors. However, government agencies have no common standard that producers have to meet to make a “pasture raised” claim on a food label, no definition for “pasture,” and no requirement for the claim to be verified through on-farm inspections.
These seals mean the “pasture raised” claim is verified: American Grassfed, Animal Welfare Approved, PCO Certified 100% Grassfed, NOFA-NY 100% Grassfed, USDA Organic (Dairy & Beef only), Certified Humane Raised and Handled + Pasture Raised (eggs only), American Humane Certified + Pasture Raised (eggs only), Glonal Animal Partnership Steps 4 to 5 (beef, cattle, & pigs), Global Animal Partnerships Steps 5 and 5+ (all animals).
Kosher is a Hebrew word that means “fit” or “proper.” The word kosher is used to describe food and drink that complies with Jewish religious dietary law. For a food to be kosher, the production process must meet kosher requirements and then be approved by a kosher auditor. For a kosher product to be certified, every ingredient, additive and processing aid that’s used in production must also be kosher. No non-kosher foods can be used in the production lines or with the same equipment as kosher foods.
Halal food has been prepared according to Islamic law, and are free from pork products, alcohol and certain other ingredients.
Wild Crafted botanicals are not farmed or sprayed with any kind of pesticide. They are wild, native and organic by their own nature and retain the positive attributes of plants grown in their normal habitat.
Botanical means derived from plants, including the extracts of roots, seeds, leaves, and flowers. Remember, while many botanicals are full of antioxidants and vitamins, just because an ingredient comes from a plant doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for you.
The term generally indicates that the product is made with botanical ingredients, naturally occurring elements or compounds, not man-made ingredients.
The “non-toxic” or “clean” claim implies that a product, substance, or chemical will not cause adverse health effects, either immediately or over the long-term. However, keep in mind there are no specific standards or verifications for the terms “non-toxic” or “clean.” The “clean” label also means simplifying the ingredient list, while removing ingredients that are not easily recognized or preferred by consumers.
A product labeled “vegan” contains no animal products or byproducts whatsoever. That being said, a vegan beauty product could very well be laden with synthetic chemicals, as long as no animals were harmed in the process.
Cruelty-free means to be manufactured or developed by methods that do not involve experimentation on animals. Companies can get certified by these organizations:
- Peta means the company and their ingredient suppliers do not conduct, commission, or pay for any tests on animals for ingredients, formulations, or finished products.
- Leaping Bunny, Coalition for Consumer Information on Cosmetics (CCIC) means the company and their ingredient suppliers do not conduct or commission animal testing of their products.
- Choose Cruelty-Free (CCF) certification means none of its products and ingredients have ever been tested on animals by it, by anyone on its behalf, by its suppliers or anyone on their behalf and must not contain any ingredients derived specifically from killing an animal or provided as a by-product from killed animals.
Being an ethical consumer means buying products which were ethically produced and/or which are not harmful to the environment and society. Ethical products are something which doesn’t exploit labour, animals or the environment while making them. So if you are doing ethical shopping then you are indirectly helping others.
Fair trade is a social movement whose stated goal is to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions and to promote sustainable farming.
Sustainability has more to do with the impact of cultivation and the production process on the environment than the ingredients themselves, which may or may not be organic, botanical, wild crafted, or natural.
The pillars of sustainability: environment protection, social development, and the economic development.
- Environmental sustainability: A state in which the demands placed on the environment can be met without reducing its capacity to allow all people to live well, now and in the future. Maintain rates of renewable resource harvest, pollution creation, and non-renewable resource depletion that can be continued indefinitely.
- Economic sustainability: the ability to support a defined level of economic production indefinitely.
- Social sustainability: the ability of a community to develop processes and structures which not only meet the needs of its current members but also support the ability of future generations to maintain a healthy community.
Compostable material breaks down into “humus,” which provides valuable nutrients to the soil. The material must completely break down and not release any metals or toxins into the compost.
Biodegradable material returns to nature (i.e. decompose into elements found in nature), disintegrating or disappearing completely. This disintegration could take a week or years after customary disposal. Biodegradable material can potentialy leave metal residue in their return to nature.
Recycle means to convert waste into reusable material, return material to a previous stage in a cyclic process, or to use again. By recycling, one is reducing the consumption of fresh, raw materials.
Upcycle means to a convert discarded low-value material into higher-value/more desirable material than the original.
Downcycle means to convert valuable products by breaking an item down into its component elements or materials, into low-value raw materials.