woman in the forest looking around at all the buzzwords floating above her.

Decoding Sustainability Buzzwords

As more and more people embrace sustainability and connecting with our planet, we come across certain phrases or trendy buzzwords more often. Some may be new to you, while others might have caught your eye before without really grabbing your attention.

In this ever-evolving conversation about sustainability, it’s essential to stay informed and engaged. So, let’s dive deeper into these words commonly used in today’s sustainability talk. We’ll unravel their meanings and explore their significance.

Circular Economy

Imagine a world where resources are used efficiently, waste is minimized, and products are designed to be recycled or repurposed. The circular economy is a concept that promotes a regenerative and restorative approach to production and consumption. Embracing circular products reduces our eco ‘footprint’ and builds a sustainable economy by following a ‘closed loop’ approach.

Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP)

Sustainable Consumption and Production is all about being a smart shopper and producer by making choices that are kind to Mother Earth. So instead of continuously buying and making products, SCP encourages us to think about the environmental impact. SCP aims to make sure that how we consume and make things matches what the planet can handle which benefits society as a whole. 

illustration of CO2 and a tree balancing on a scale

Carbon Neutral or Net Zero

Being carbon neutral means balancing the carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere with an equal amount of carbon removal. To reach ‘net zero’, we need to reduce carbon emissions and support initiatives that absorb or minimize CO2. Actions like planting trees, using renewable energy, or capturing and storing carbon all contribute to this. The goal is to find a balance between the CO2 we release and the amount we remove from the air so that there is no overall increase in CO2 levels.

Waste Audits

Waste auditing means investigating your garbage and recycling. It’s like being a detective, digging deep into the garbage to uncover the secrets of waste generation. Waste audits involve examining the types and amounts of waste we produce, and figuring out how we can reduce, reuse, and recycle more effectively. It’s a fascinating way to understand our impact on the environment and find creative solutions to minimize waste.


Resilience, when it comes to sustainability, means how well systems, communities, and societies can handle and bounce back from unexpected events, challenges, and transformations. It includes developing the ability to adapt, promoting strong social connections, and making sure ecosystems are strong and healthy. Resilience is really important when dealing with things like climate change, natural disasters, and other major disruptions.

illustration of a box and a tree going through a life cycle circle with directional arrows

Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

LCA takes a deep dive into the journey of a product or system to understand its impact on the environment from start to finish. We’re not just talking about its raw materials or when it’s thrown away, but everything in between too. Life cycle assessments help us understand how many resources are used, what kind of pollution is released, and where the most significant environmental problems occur. By using a LCA, we can really understand how to improve processes and products that benefit us and the planet.

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)

CSR is a voluntary commitment where companies look beyond profits and embrace the power of social and environmental goodness in everything they do. This commitment highlights the importance of focusing on three key areas: people, planet, and profit. CSR initiatives cover various actions such as ensuring sustainable sourcing, promoting fair labor practices, engaging in philanthropy, and taking responsibility for environmental preservation.

Social Justice

With social justice, the spotlight shines equally on everyone, giving everyone fair and equal rights, services, and opportunities regardless of their gender, race, ethnicity, or any other characteristic. Social justice ensures no one is left behind, creating a sustainable and better future for all.

illustration of a water drop, an earth worm and "CO2" in a bubble

Regenerative Agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming and land management that tries to bring life back to ecosystems, soil health, and biodiversity. With more planning and considering our environment, they focus on practices like crop rotation, cover cropping, and using fewer chemicals. Regenerative agriculture boosts soil fertility, controls water levels, and even captures carbon, creating systems that are both resilient and productive.


Greenwashing is when a company misleads people into thinking they’re environmentally friendly, even if they’re not. They may use marketing or branding tricks to make themselves or their products seem more eco-friendly than they really are. Overall, greenwashing ends up hurting real efforts to be sustainable and can deceive people who truly care about the environment.

Social Entrepreneurship

Social entrepreneurship brings together the power of business and compassion for our world. It’s all about using savvy business strategies to tackle social and environmental issues head-on. Social entrepreneurs focus on making a difference rather than solely aiming for maximum profits. Social enterprises also often work in conjunction with non-profits. Their purpose is to take any profits made and reinvest them back into these organizations and their work. 

an illustration of a coin sprouting out of the ground

Sustainable Investing

Picture this: you can grow your wealth while saving the world—sounds like a win-win, right? That’s what sustainable investing is all about. Sustainable investing, also known as socially responsible investing (SRI) or responsible investing, aims to make money while also considering environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors. It involves investing in companies, organizations, or funds that show a dedication to sustainable practices, positive social impact, and responsible governance. So, by investing in these sustainability accounts, you’re securing your financial future while also supporting positive social impacts and a healthier planet. It’s a powerful way to align your money with your values and ensure a brighter future for generations to come.

In this journey towards a greener future, let’s embrace these buzzwords and phrases as more than just trendy terms. They hold the key to unlocking a world where people use resources efficiently, minimize waste, and design products with the planet in mind. Through these concepts, we can pave the way for a sustainable and equitable future. By joining together, armed with this new knowledge, we can build a brighter and greener tomorrow.


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