September 27, 2022 3 min read


We understand it can be baffling and confusing for businesses when it comes to discerning the many eco-friendly and environmental terms used these days. It's important that you and your team understand and trust the language used to promote products and services and that businesses are trusted when communicating their eco credentials.
We know it takes time and research to understand the green claims code and it is becoming increasingly important that you make true statements regarding the products that you buy and sell to have a positive impact on the planet.
That's why understanding the language used on packaging and in advertising will help your team when sourcing and designing products and services and this will instill customer confidence in your brand.
Here is Beyond Bamboo's glossary of Green Terms to help you navigate these green claims and 'buzz words' so you and your customers can make the best choices for our well-being and the health of our planet.

Net zero refers to achieving an equal balance between the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere.

Offsetting is a way of paying for others to reduce emissions or absorb CO2 to compensate for a company's emissions. Offsetting doesn't cancel out – or, 'offset' – the emissions to which they are linked.

Goes beyond achieving net zero carbon emissions to create an environmental benefit by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

'Vegan' means it does not contain any animal ingredients or animal-derived ingredients. Often brands may claim an item is vegan-friendly if it contains no animal ingredients but was made in a factory where other non-vegan items are made. The terminology is used to indicate that they cannot guarantee there is no cross contamination (but, on balance, the product can be considered vegan).

Cruelty-free is a label for products that do not harm or kill animals anywhere along its supply chain. Products tested on animals are not considered cruelty-free, since these tests are often painful and cause the suffering and death of animals.

Some people, including food bloggers, may use the terms "plant-based" and "vegan" interchangeably, however, plant-based is an "umbrella term" and does not necessarily equate to being vegan. Eating more plant-based foods is the single biggest way we can reduce our impact on the environment as individuals.

Biodegradable materials or products are those that can break down to their basic components when given the right conditions and microorganisms, fungi, or bacteria. This is great as it keeps the item out of landfill waste. Some items are biodegradable/compostable in home composting bins, other require industrial composting silos where very high temperatures are reached. Check if products and packaging are suitable for home composting as you can then do this yourself, without the need for additional transport, and it also indicates that the item will break down relatively quickly. Once degraded/composted the item leaves nothing harmful behind.

Accreditation is an independent, third-party evaluation by an assessment body against recognised standards. A brand having gained industry accreditation ensures that due diligence has been done for that particular claim.

Sustainable products and practices are those that do not jeopardise the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It has become too broad a term with such little accountability that it can hardly be taken at face value. Brands that are operating “more sustainably” should always explain specifically how they are doing so.

Zero waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention that encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no rubbish to be sent to landfills or incinerators or end up in the ocean.

Share this article with your team, help them to get wise to green claims and what they actually mean!

If you are a business looking to understand more about how to avoid Greenwashing, please email us with any questions you have and we can let you know how we can help. You can also follow us on LinkedIn for regular industry research and articles.