A Glossary of Sustainability

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

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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

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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