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Glossary of Sustainable Terms_Blog

Glossary of Sustainable Terms

Your A-Z Guide to Green Meeting Buzzwords


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Whether you’re a well-seasoned eco-event planner or just getting started in the green world of sustainable meetings, keeping up with the ever-evolving vocabulary is a challenge we all face.  Whatever your experience level, we’ve created the following glossary of sustainability terms that covers both common industry terms and some newer emerging concepts to keep you up to date on the most recent trends.

To make it easier to find what you’re looking for we’ve divided the glossary into a few sections: general concepts, manufacturing, graphics, promotional/giveaways, venue considerations, and food/waste.  

Just as the demands and expectations of sustainable events grow and evolve, so too will this glossary change as new concepts and ideas work their way into the industry.  Be sure to check back often for the most up-to-date information to help you make informed decisions and keep both your attendees and the environment happy!

General Concepts

Acidification is a process in which the pH level of a resource (like the ocean, soil, or rain) decreases and becomes more acidic. Typically this occurs from the emission of fossil fuels.

A colorless, odorless greenhouse gas often abbreviated as CO2. While CO2 is essential for our survival since plants require it for photosynthesis, excess CO2 in the atmosphere contributes to global warming and can harm the planet.

Carbon sinks are natural systems like oceans, plants, and soil that absorb and remove CO2 from the atmosphere.

Climate action refers to any measurable steps taken by individuals, companies, or organizations to reduce their carbon emissions.  

A circular economy is an economic model using a closed system of continuous resource use. The goal is to reduce waste by reusing or upcycling existing resources and recycling elements that cannot be reused.

Climate change, also called global warming, describes a shift in Earth's temperature primarily due to greenhouse gas emissions. Over time, climate change can cause extreme weather patterns, natural disasters (like hurricanes and wildfires), water scarcity, and other adverse effects.

Conservation is a philosophy that advocates for the protection of natural landscapes, wildlife, or resources. Governments often pass laws that prohibit the use of resources in certain areas to promote conservation, like plastic straw or foam packaging bans in certain cities.

Cradle-to-cradle refers to using waste as the source of a new product. This approach eliminates the need to manufacture materials from scratch and allows for continuous recovery and reuse.

Cradle-to-gate considers the environmental impact of an item from its creation to when it is ready for sale or reaches a store's shelf.

Unlike cradle-to-gate, this assessment considers the entire lifecycle of a product, from its creation to disposal and breakdown.

Decomposition is a natural process whereby organic matter breaks down into simpler forms. Generally, products that can decompose and decompose more quickly are considered more environmentally friendly.  

The term eco-conscious refers to any person, organization, object, or company that considers the environment in some capacity. This is an unregulated term.

The claim that a particular product is safe for both people and the environment. Unlike the unregulated “eco-conscious” tag, the law actually requires “eco-friendly” or “green” claims to be truthful, and the FTC's Green Guides tell businesses how to comply with the law when they make environmental claims.

The Environmental Protection Agency is a federal government agency that is responsible for protecting public health and the environment.

Forest degradation refers to the gradual breakdown of ecosystems over time, reducing their ability to provide the benefits they once offered (like habitats for animals or air purification). It is different from deforestation, which involves clearing large areas of trees for non-forest use.


Fossil fuels are formed from the remains of organisms that existed millions of years ago. Petroleum, coal, natural gas, and Orimulsion are the four types of fossil fuels. Burning fossil fuels releases greenhouse gasses that contribute to climate change, ocean acidification, pollution, and other environmental problems. 

The greenhouse effect is a phenomenon where gasses in the atmosphere trap the sun's heat and prevent it from escaping into space. This process leads to global warming and climate change.

Greenhouse gases are gases that trap heat in the Earth's atmosphere and contribute to the greenhouse effect. The six major types of greenhouse gases are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, ozone, nitrous oxide, and chlorofluorocarbons.

With as popular as green items are, it’s no surprise that many vendors intentionally misrepresent just how green a particular item is to boost sales.  An easy way to mitigate the risk of greenwashing is to source items with some type of social initiative in addition to green materials or production methods  This ensures a supplier “walks the walk” and brings some value you can leverage to your audience.

Carbon insetting is an approach that focuses on measuring and reducing emissions internally through gradual changes to operations, manufacturing, packaging, and other processes instead of relying on external partners to offset emissions.

Methane is a colorless, odorless, highly flammable gas and is one of the greenhouse gasses responsible for global warming.

Microplastics are small plastic particles, typically smaller than 5mm, which are found in various cosmetics, clothing fibers, and manufacturing materials. 

Net-zero or net-neutral refers to a state where the total greenhouse gasses emitted into the atmosphere are equal to the amount of GHGs offset. Net-zero is a common goal for many companies that most aim to achieve by 2050.

Renewable resources, also known as flow resources, are natural resources that can replenish themselves before they are depleted. Examples of renewable resources include solar and wind energy.

Sustainability means meeting present needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own. The United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs suggests that our concept of sustainability must encompass impacts across climate, waste, water, air, biodiversity, and social inclusion. As the term is not regulated, be cautious of greenwashing when you come across it, as many use the term quite loosely.

The spend-based method is a way to calculate emissions based on their monetary value, such as emissions per dollar spent. This method multiplies the economic value of a good or service by the industry average emission factors.


Alternative energy, also called renewable energy, is derived from sources that are replenished naturally and do not deplete over time from sources like solar, wind, and hydroelectric power. While nuclear energy is not renewable, it is sometimes considered a form of alternative energy because it emits almost no carbon. 

Biofuel is a renewable energy source derived from plant or animal waste - the two most common being ethanol and biodiesel. It’s generally seen as a more sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Biomass refers to organic matter, such as plant and animal waste, that can be used as a fuel source to produce energy.  Some popular examples of biomass are wheat straw, sorghum stubble, rice straw, and wood pulp.

A byproduct is a material that is produced as excess during the manufacturing process. Byproducts can range from something harmless (and even potentially useful) like sawdust to potentially harmful substances such as carbon dioxide emissions.

The amount of carbon emitted by an individual or organization is their carbon footprint.  This is the most common metric in measuring just how green an event is, but the term "footprint" should generally include all emissions, not just carbon.

Sometimes referred to as “Net Zero”, achieving carbon neutrality involves releasing net-zero carbon emissions, usually through offsetting. Carbon neutrality doesn't account for all greenhouse gas emissions, and it doesn't reduce emissions; it merely rebalances the atmosphere.  

In sustainability, emissions are greenhouse gasses released into Earth's atmosphere that cause damage to the planet. There are three different scopes of emissions: 

  • Scope 1 refers to direct emissions controlled by an organization, such as shipping online orders. 
  • Scope 2 refers to indirect emissions controlled by an organization, such as the electricity used in a warehouse. 
  • Scope 3 emissions refer to indirect emissions not in control of an organization, such as customers tossing empty products in the trash. The nature of Scope 3 emissions make them hard to track

LCA is an analysis that evaluates the environmental impact of a product throughout its entire life cycle, from material extraction to disposal. The process usually includes six stages: material extraction, manufacturing, packaging, transportation, use, and end of life.

Non-renewable resources are finite resources that are consumed at a faster rate than they can replenish. Coal, oil, and natural gas are examples of non-renewable resources. 

PEG, or Polyethylene Glycol, is a type of microplastic derived from petroleum that can harm marine life and pollute oceans

Phthalates are a class of chemicals that are commonly used as plasticizers.  These are added to plastics to increase their flexibility, durability, and transparency. Depending on what other chemicals are present in the product, some phthalates can be recycled. However, no phthalates break down and can leech into the environment once discarded.

Regenerative agriculture is a form of agriculture that focuses on restoring depleted soils through organic and non-synthetic processes. Unlike sustainable agriculture, regenerative agriculture seeks to improve ecosystems rather than simply maintaining them. This approach involves rejecting pesticides and synthetic fertilizers and instead mimicking natural cycles.

The resin identification number is a number located on the bottom of plastic items that indicates the type of plastic it is made of. Plastics labeled #1 (PET/PETE), #2 (HDPE), and #5 (PP) are typically accepted by most curbside recycling programs. Plastics labeled #3 (PVC), #4 (LDPE), #6 (PS), and #7 (other) are not always recyclable, so it's important to check your local recycling guidelines before tossing them in the recycling bin.

Not to be confused with the other unit of mass “ton”, a tonne is the unit of weight used in the metric system that equals 1000 kilograms or 2,204.6 pounds. It is the metric most often used when referring to carbon emissions.

Upstream emissions refer to the greenhouse gases released during the production and transportation of goods and services, including those generated by suppliers and third-party manufacturers. 


Biodegradable materials are those that can naturally break down into the environment over time. While these materials may decompose within a "reasonable" period, the specific timeline for biodegradation varies from product to product. It is important to note that not all biodegradable materials are environmentally beneficial, as some may release methane gas or leech harmful chemicals into the soil during the decomposition process.  Look for biodegradable graphics in conjunction with an eco-solvent ink to ensure the greenest option for your graphics!

In regards to graphics, some printers may offer climate-neutral printing processes in which the energy required to power the printers is generated via renewable resources (like solar panels) or if the material is made from post-consumer material to offset carbon emissions during printing.

Closed-loop recycling is a sustainable form of recycling where a product's raw materials are broken down and reused to create a similar product without generating much waste. Signs made of aluminum or wood pulp can be broken down to create new materials for new signs.

Deforestation is the practice of removing trees, often in tropical rainforests, and has significant negative impacts on the environment. It contributes to climate change, destroys ecosystems, and poses a threat to the lives and livelihoods of indigenous peoples.  In terms of graphics, this is mostly a concern for offset print items like brochures, agendas, name badges, and handouts.  Vendors with  FSC certificates mean the material is coming from ethically managed forests.

Products designed for single or limited use before being discarded.  Foam signs are one of the biggest disposable options in regards to graphics - a problematic fact because they don’t necessarily break down in a landfill as readily as green alternatives.  When choosing disposable items, look for recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable options.

The end of life of a product or material refers to how it is disposed of, including its recyclability and decomposition, in a life cycle assessment.  Opting for recyclable, reusable signage means you can extend the lifetime of your graphics while having a more sustainable end-of-life once the graphic is no longer needed.

Energy-efficient refers to any product or process that uses minimal energy to reduce emissions and cut back on waste.  Some printers use alternative energy to be more energy efficient.

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is responsible for protecting forests from deforestation and degradation through its certification process. FSC-certified products are vetted to ensure that they are sourced ethically, without the use of hazardous chemicals, disturbance of indigenous cultures, or endangerment of rare environments.  Keep an eye out for this symbol when sourcing paper material goods.

High-Density Polyethylene, or #2 plastic, is a highly recyclable material.  This material is commonly used for reusable signs and when paired with the proper type of ink, makes for a great long-term graphic that is also recyclable at its end of life!

Polycarbonate is a type of #7 plastic, which is not commonly accepted in recycling programs and is often made using BPA, a harmful chemical.  This type of material is most common in backlit signage or displays.  Greener alternatives are HDPE and even certain types of fabric like polyester.

Post consumer recycled (PCR) material is created when recycled items are broken down and reused to make new products, reducing waste. Products made with PCR use less virgin plastic and are more sustainable.

Plastic is a synthetic material made from polymers, such as polyethylene. It is inexpensive and lightweight but has a detrimental effect on the environment since it takes hundreds of years to decompose. There are 7 types of plastics labeled with a resin identification number that indicate if and how it can be recycled.  When sourcing a plastic sign, see if your supplier can provide you with the resin number as it will give you a better idea of how recyclable your plastic sign is.

Polyethylene, or PE, is the most commonly used type of plastic, mostly in packaging

Polypropylene is a plastic that is resistant to heat and commonly used in hot food containers. While usually designed to be disposable, and can usually be placed on the curb for recycling.

PVC, or Polyvinyl Chloride, is the most toxic and hazardous type of plastic that is commonly found in reusable plastic signage. PVC is rarely accepted in curbside recycling programs.  

Polystyrene is a type of plastic that is commonly found in Foam core signage.  This type of plastic is almost never accepted in recycling programs and takes over 400 years to fully break down in a landfill.  

Recyclable materials are those that can be broken down and turned into raw materials to make new products. Recycling helps reduce waste, conserve energy, and prevent pollution.  Only a small percentage of plastic is actually recycled, and recycling guidelines vary from one place to another, so check with your venue’s local recycling restrictions to ensure your graphics can go right on the curb when you’re finished with them!

Products made with recycled content are made from materials that were previously recycled, such as PCR plastic. Keep in mind that recycled content is not the same as recyclable, so it's important to check before tossing something in the recycling bin.

Single-use products are disposable items that cannot be recycled or reused (such as traditional foam core signage). These products create waste and typically end up in landfills.

Virgin plastic is plastic that has never been used before and is made from new, non-recycled materials. Unlike post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, virgin plastic requires the extraction of new resources and the consumption of energy to create.



Bamboo is a sustainable and eco-friendly material commonly used for producing promotional products due to its durability, versatility, and biodegradability.  Be sure to keep an eye out for FSC certifications when sourcing bamboo to ensure its being harvested in a sustainable way.

As we mentioned earlier, biodegradable items naturally break down into the environment once discarded.  Depending on the type of promo item you’re choosing, there are many great biodegradable options at your disposal like bamboo, wheatstraw, and organic cotton.

BPA, or bisphenol A, is a chemical commonly used in the production of polycarbonate plastics, most commonly found in drinkware.  These plastics can actually pose serious health risks by leaching into food and drinks, as well as the soil once discarded.  Look for BPA-free alternatives when sourcing drinkware or food storage like Bento boxes for a safer option for your recipient and the planet alike.

Brown materials are dry, carbon-rich materials that can be composted. Examples of brown materials include leaves, shredded paper bags, and dryer lint. These materials are important for maintaining proper aeration in compost piles, allowing for the circulation of water and air.  While not typically a material we think of when it comes to promos, certain gifts like drinkware and tech offer brown material packaging, for a more waste conscious finished product.

CfRN refers to the Coalition for Rainforest Nations, which works to reduce deforestation and preserve vital ecosystems.  Many promo companies partner with non-profits like this to ensure their products are as green as possible.  This helps offset an item’s carbon footprint, as well as adding some valuable social initiative to your item.  Look for CfRN certificates with promos like notebooks, drinkware, and apparel items. 

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) was created in the 1970s to ensure that international trade between governments doesn't harm endangered plants. Look for CITES-certified ingredients when sourcing cosmetic promos, lip balms, and sunscreen.

As with graphics, there are steps promotional suppliers are taking to make their production processes more efficient in regards to carbon emissions.  Look for green production methods (like those using solar power) or for social initiatives that help to offset their emissions (see Climate Positive).

Climate positive goes beyond carbon neutrality by removing additional carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, making it carbon negative.  Promotional companies that partner with non-profits to plant trees for purchases are an easy way to source climate-positive products.

As we mentioned, closed-loop recycling involves the breaking down of a product's core components to create new products.  This is a bit more difficult for promo items, given the scope and complexity of some giveaway categories, but emerging eco brands like Karst stone paper not only use post industrial waste to create their product, but can actually be closed-loop recycled as well!

Composting is an eco-friendly alternative to throwing away items like food scraps that would otherwise end up in a landfill. These scraps, composed of green and brown materials, decompose into nutrient-rich soil and are reintroduced to the earth.  While not something we typically think of in regards to promos, many green giveaways feature compostable packaging for a green approach to waste.  Certain new promo materials like wheatstraw are actually compostable as well!

Cruelty-free refers to products that have not been tested on animals. Although the FDA does not regulate the term, some companies seek certification through cruelty-free programs.  When sourcing cosmetic items, lip balms, sunscreens, and even certain foods, look for these types of certifications and double-check the certification company to ensure the product isn’t being greenwashed.

Single-use promos.  While a great promo is one your recipient will use over and over long after the event has ended, there are certain branded items (like coffee cups or napkins) that will be disposed of at the event.  While reusable options are best, check for recyclable or biodegradable materials when sourcing giveaways that are going to be disposed of.

As with graphics, considering a product’s end of life ensures your product is green from beginning to end.  Keep an eye out for biodegradable or recyclable materials like rPET, bamboo, wheat straw, and reinforced cardboard when sourcing your product. Look for upcycle programs in your area that take in excess or old promotional materials for redistribution to shelters or community centers.

Similar to Climate neutrality, suppliers that use minimal energy in their production processes or cut back on waste are considered energy efficient with sourcing promos.

Fairtrade certification is a third-party product certification process that establishes standards for the production of goods without exploiting producers economically. It ensures that producers are paid a living wage and prohibits child labor and forced labor.  Keep a look out for this cert on any item that you may be sourcing from overseas.

As with offset print items, an Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification signifies that the paper is sourced from a responsibly managed forest.  Check for FSC certs when sourcing notebooks, journals, or padfolios.

A #2 plastic that  is a highly recyclable material that you’ll find in certain water bottles, travel kits, and food storage containers.  This is a great material if you’re looking for a reusable, recyclable plastic promo.

#4 plastic that you’ll find in things like branded coffee cups, containers, and packaging for your promos.  Unfortunately, #4 plastics are not easily recyclable so look for paper or green material replacements when possible. 

Organic cotton is a natural, eco-friendly material commonly used in items like apparel and tote bags. Organic cotton is grown without the use of harmful pesticides or fertilizers and usually consumes less water to refine than other fabrics.

A  #7 plastic, which is not commonly accepted in recycling programs and is often made using BPA, a harmful chemical. You’ll find this plastic in tech gifts, storage items, and even some drinkware.  Opt for greener alternatives like bamboo or wheat straw when possible.

As with signs, the use of PCR in the production process makes for a greener start and can even help make a product climate positive!  Keep an eye out for PCR in items like drinkware, stationery items, totes, and even some apparel.

PET, or Polyethylene terephthalate, is a type of polyester used in #1 plastic packaging that is lightweight, inexpensive, and recyclable and is a common material for branded water bottles.

Post-industrial recycled (PIR) content is waste left over from manufacturing processes that is used to create new products, reducing waste.  Common materials of PIR include wheat straw (made from the discarded tops of wheat) and leather.

Polyethylene, or PE, is the most commonly used type of plastic and can be found in everything from drinkware, first aid kits, backpacks, and even apparel.  This type of plastic is readily recyclable (though consider plastic alternatives first when selecting your promo items).

A #5 plastic, is resistant to heat and commonly found in drinkware and non-woven totes in the promotional word. This type of plastic is becoming increasingly more recyclable, though it’s worth noting that all programs accept #5 plastics, so be sure to check your local regulations!

As we mentioned above, PVC is a common type of hazardous plastic that isn’t great for  humans or the soil.  You can find this type of plastic commonly in bags, tech items, phone cases, and even some drinkware.  While plastic alternatives are always ideal when sourcing eco-minded gifts, opting for PVC free items if you need plastic is important for the health of your recipient.

rPET, or recycled polyethylene terephthalate, is a sustainable material commonly used for producing promotional products such as bags, lanyards, and clothing. Made from post-consumer recycled plastic bottles and containers, rPET reducing waste and supporting circular economy initiatives. Some rPET is even pulled directly from the ocean for even more social activism value. 

Reef-safe or reef-friendly refers to any product, ingredient, or practice that does not harm coral reefs. This term is often used to describe sunscreen as many SPF formulas contain chemicals that can cause coral bleaching, which can harm coral reefs. While the term is not regulated, any sunscreen that does not contain oxybenzone and octinoxate is generally considered reef-safe.

Reforestation involves planting trees as a solution to deforestation. Certain brands partner with reforestation nonprofits to plant trees based on purchases.

Virgin plastic is plastic that has never been used before and is made from new, non-recycled materials. Unlike post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic, virgin plastic requires the extraction of new resources and the consumption of energy to create.

Wheatstraw refers to the stem or stalk of wheat plants left over after the grain has been harvested, often used as a sustainable alternative to single-use plastic products.  Wheatstraw is recyclable and biodegradable and can be used to make everything from drinkware and pens to tech items!



Blackwater is a type of wastewater that is contaminated with human waste and other organic matter, sourced from toilets, sinks, and dishwashers. With proper treatment, blackwater can be recycled and reused, helping to reduce water waste and conserve energy.  If you’re looking to create a waste-free event, heck with your venue to see how they handle their particular type of blackwater.

Found primarily in California, a cap and trade program allocates a limited number of carbon credits to organizations that frequently release pollutants. Once they reach their cap, they cannot use more credits, which prevents them from emitting more carbon into the atmosphere. Companies with surplus credits can sell them to those who need them, incentivizing those who release less. Though not yet widely adopted, the US Clean Air Act of 1990 is the world's first cap and trade program.  While venues are not companies that are required to buy and sell credits, the energy providers they use do, so check to see how and where your venue is sourcing its power from. 

Used in cap and trade programs, one carbon credit represents one tonne of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere.  Checking with your venue, you may find that their energy supplier is producing credits, meaning they’re a green energy supplier!.

CER stands for Corporate Environmental Responsibility, which refers to a company's ownership of its environmental impact on the planet.  Simple things like energy conservation, reducing water and paper waste, and using eco-conscious or energy efficient energy sources are all examples of CER action.  Check with your venue to see what types of sustainable practices they employ on site.

The Clean Energy Standard, also known as a clean electricity standard, requires a percentage of electricity to be generated from 'clean' or low-emitting sources. Similar to a cap and trade program, a CES incentivizes companies and suppliers to use more green energy and fewer fossil fuels.  While more popular in Europe, some hotels in the US are making sustainable choices in terms of design and energy generation.  Check to see if your hotel uses any type of renewable energy.  

HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning. These systems are among the most energy-intensive in buildings and as we mentioned above can be offset by certain renewable energy sources.  Check with your venue to see if they know how energy intensive their HVAC units are and what steps they’re taking to be as energy efficient as possible.

A Leeds-certified venue refers to a facility or building that has been awarded the Leeds Certification, a prestigious sustainability certification developed by the Leeds Sustainable Institute. This certification recognizes that a venue has demonstrated outstanding environmental performance, as well as its commitment to reducing its environmental impact and enhancing sustainability practices. Venues must meet certain milestones in areas like energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, indoor environmental quality, and sustainable transportation (among others). Looking for a Leeds-certified venue can help you take a lot of the guesswork out of sustainability when choosing your venue.

Low-density polyethylene is a common type of plastic found in hotels - from the complimentary travel shampoo bottles in the room to the coffee cups in the cafeteria.  As practical as LDPE is, it is not as readily recyclable so check to see if your hotel offers things like reusable drinkware or cutlery, or biodegradable containers in their venue.

Food & Waste

As we mentioned in the graphics section, composting is an eco-friendly alternative to throwing away food waste.  Check to see if your venue has a composting initiative.  Otherwise, there are certain third-party companies you can hire to actually collect compost waste for you at the event or many planners are using volunteers to ensure items are sorted correctly and then composted after the event!

This is a scope 3 type of emission indirectly associated with customers (as opposed to upstream, which pertains to suppliers). An example of downstream emissions is when a customer discards a product that ends up in a landfill, releasing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.  Keeping downstream emissions in mind when planning your handouts for an event and packaging for food (and food items in general) can help you cut down on downstream emissions.

Green material is a term used in composting to describe wet, nitrogen-rich scraps that help break down organic matter into compost. Examples of green material include banana peels, coffee grounds, grass clippings, and dead flowers.  As we mentioned earlier, check to see if your venue separates green materials during their waste and, if not, if you’re allowed to do so yourself via a third party composting company or on-site volunteers.

Organic farming refers to a method of growing crops without the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. Organic farming is considered more sustainable as it saves energy, reduces pollution, and helps prevent land erosion. The organic label on produce signifies that it was grown without synthetic inputs, so keep an eye out for organic products when planning your event’s menu.

As with graphics and even some promos, single-use items are designed to be disposed of after just one use.  Check to see if your venue offers reusable alternatives to traditional coffee cups or cutlery and, if not, if you’re able to source your own for the event.  By doing so, you can actually boost your branding while doing good for the environment as well!

Veganism is a lifestyle that involves avoiding the consumption of animal products, including meat, dairy, and other animal-derived ingredients. Choosing vegan products can help reduce water usage and greenhouse gas emissions, leading to a smaller ecological footprint. While your entire menu may not necessarily have to be vegan, vegan and vegetarian options can help you lower your event’s overall footprint, as well as promote inclusivity for all your vegan guests!

The entire process of waste generated by a person or organization, including both material-related waste streams (such as plastic) and product-related waste streams (like batteries). Understanding and managing waste streams can help reduce waste and promote sustainability.  As we mentioned earlier, sourcing biodegradable or recyclable options from local suppliers is a great way to better manage your event’s waste stream.

The act of placing an item in the recycling bin without knowing if it is actually recyclable, leading to contamination of the recycling stream. To avoid wish cycling, it’s important to follow local recycling guidelines and only recycle items that are accepted in your area.  Consider educating and utilizing volunteers at your event to ensure waste is being disposed of properly to avoid wishcycling.

Zero waste refers to any action, method, or item that strives to eliminate waste altogether. Similar to the term 'greenwashing', it's important to approach the concept of zero waste with caution. In reality, it is difficult for any process to be completely waste-free, as it can be challenging to account for factors like carbon dioxide emissions and water usage.  Be wary of venues or suppliers boasting zero-waste as a selling point.

Sustainability is not just a trend, but a responsibility that we all share. By incorporating sustainable practices into our events, we can make a significant impact on the environment and create a better world for future generations. We hope this glossary has provided you with a better understanding of sustainable terms in the events industry, and how they can be applied to your events. Even small changes can make a big difference, and every effort counts!  If you have questions, are looking for product recommendations, or are ready to get started with some great sustainable graphics, contact us and let's work together to create a more sustainable future for the industry we love!

Zack Malpass
Written by Zack Malpass

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