A Glossary of Sustainability

We decode green lingo, from “upcycling” to “LOHAS.”

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.


triple bottom line (a.k.a. people, planet, profit): accounting that goes beyond revenue to factor in social and environmental costs

feebate: surcharge on wasteful products, plus incentive for alternatives. Example: Starting in 2011, California’s Clean Car Discount program will slap up to $2,500 onto the price of gas-guzzlers, and fund cash rewards for fuel-efficient vehicles.

dinosaur wine: petroleum

energy return on investment: the ratio of energy provided to the energy used to produce the fuel. Corn ethanol has an eroi of 1.5:1; sugarcane ethanol’s is 8:1.

lohas: Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability; marketing jargon for ecoconscious consumers, an estimated 1 in 5 adult Americans

basic browns: the anti-lohas crowd, now dubbed “apathetics”

light/dark/bright green: Light greens focus on lifestyle changes; dark greens focus on macro policy shifts; bright greens want to overhaul everything.

conspicuous conservation: $109K electric Tesla Roadster; Whole Foods’ $50 organic cotton T-shirt. Related: checkbook environmentalism.

practicavore: grows own food to save money

food desert: area devoid of fresh food, flush with liquor stores

walkshed: area conveniently reached on foot from your house

slow design: think slow food

freedom lawn: native plants and grasses

cradle-to-cradle: reuse or recycling of everything used to make a product

upcycling: sewing old T-shirts into area rugs

biomimicry: imitating natural designs to improve efficiency, e.g. finding way to store vaccines without refrigeration by studying how plants hibernate

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We've never been very good at being conservative.

And usually, that serves us well in doing the ambitious, hard-hitting journalism that you turn to Mother Jones for. But it also means we can't afford to come up short when it comes to scratching together the funds it takes to keep our team firing on all cylinders, and the truth is, we finished our budgeting cycle on June 30 about $100,000 short of our online goal.

This is no time to come up short. It's time to fight like hell, as our namesake would tell us to do, for a democracy where minority rule cannot impose an extreme agenda, where facts matter, and where accountability has a chance at the polls and in the press. If you value our reporting and you can right now, please help us dig out of the $100,000 hole we're starting our new budgeting cycle in with an always-needed and always-appreciated donation today.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate