Green Room Glossary of Terms
Living or active in the absence of oxygen. Anaerobic biodegradation (or digestion) is a natural series of decomposition processes in which microorganisms break down biodegradable material in the absence of oxygen. Examples include tidal mud flats and cows’ stomachs. By contrast, aerobic biodegradation (referred to as “composting” when it occurs rapidly) is a series of decomposition processes that require the presence of oxygen.
The natural process by which organic substances are broken down by the enzymes produced by living organisms. A “biodegradable” product has the ability to break down, safely and relatively quickly by biological means, into the raw materials of nature (minerals and biomass).
Biologically active landfill
A closed landfill that features the “triple convergence” of high microbial load, low oxygen, and adequate moisture. This environment promotes biodegradation through anaerobic digestion.
A measure of the carbon that is emitted over the full life cycle of a product or service and usually expressed as grams of CO2-e (carbon dioxide equivalents). A true carbon footprint would track all emissions from research and development to sourcing to manufacturing to shipping and more.
A philosophy pertaining to products that can, at the end of their useful and expected life, provide nourishment for something new. All material inputs and outputs are seen either as technical or biological nutrients. Technical nutrients can be recycled or reused with no loss of quality and biological nutrients are composted into reusable byproducts or consumed. By contrast, “Cradle to Grave” products exist when a company takes responsibility for the disposal of goods it has produced, but not necessarily putting the products’ constituent components back into service.
A development methodology that offers the public practical accessibility to a product's source (goods and knowledge).
Meeting the needs of the present without depleting resources or harming natural cycles for future generations. To be sustainable, nature’s resources must only be used at a rate at which they can be replenished naturally.