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A-Z of Conscious Living

Collection of words and their definitions to build better understanding of Conscious Living.



(noun) company's acknowledgement of responsibility for its own products, actions and policies as well as undertaking to provide information to all the stakeholders, including customers.
Accountability in a conscious context is two-fold. Company's accountability to back their promises and customers to demand information about the products/services they are consuming. With the consumer base across the world becoming more environmentally aware and demanding eco-conscious products, it’s no wonder that companies are attempting to showcase their products as 'environmentally friendly'.
As consumers, it is important to be able to take off those green-tinted glasses and identify which products and services are truly sustainable and which ones are not. And hold the company accountable for their promises.


(noun) a collective term for the entire life that exists on the planet, without diversity, there would be no life on earth, including our own.
Technical definition: the variety and variability of life on Earth. This includes all life in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.<>br/ A biodiverse environment makes for a healthy environment. It makes the circle of life possible for all the species around us.
As Mufasa says, 'We are all connected by the great circle of life'. Making eco-friendly choices can help reduce the pressure on our environment and maintain its biodiversity.

Carbon footprint

(noun) measure of the greenhouse gases specifically carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere due to one’s activities over a fixed period of time. It is expressed in terms of kilograms or tons of CO2.
For example, the carbon footprint of diet soda can includes the CO2 and it's equivalent emitted during the manufacture of the soda and the can itself plus the amount emitted during the transportation of the can to the consumer. The average global carbon footprint is 4 tons a year. However, scientists determine that in order to avoid a rise in global temperatures, this needs to reduce to less than 2 tons.
The 4 major contributors to carbon footprints in our daily lives are: food, consumption, transportation, and household energy. Simple actions like carpooling, understanding and auditing your waste and modifying food habits make a good start towards reducing your carbon footprint.

Development Goals

(noun) aka Global Goals , officially known as Sustainable Development Goals are a collection of goals set by the United Nations to act as 'a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
The goals include ensuring everyone has access to affordable and clean energy, clean water and sanitation, adopting sustainable industrial and agricultural practices, and helping people change the way produce and consume goods.

Ethical Living

(philosophy) an offshoot of sustainable living.
It is based on making daily life decisions by taking into account one's ethics and moral values considering factors like consumerism, sustainability, environmentalism, wildlife, and animal welfare. One can start by taking small steps like taking care of your help, reducing the amount of waste your house generates, shopping from zero-waste stores, curdling at home or simply switching the unwanted ghost lights off.

Fair Trade

(noun) a movement that ensures better trading conditions for producers ensuring that people who grow or make goods receive a fair price.
Fair trade agreements get rid of issues like pay gaps due to gender discrimination, enforce a no child labour rule and ensure good working conditions for those involved in the entire process. Chocolate and coffee are the best-known fair trade certified products. Fair trade certification ensures that products are sourced ethically.


(noun) a play on the word ‘whitewashing’, also known as green sheen, occurs when companies deliberately or unknowingly mislead their customers into believing their products are environmentally friendly.
Types of greenwashing :
Hidden trade-off : When a brand invests in one area of sustainability, at the expense of another. For example, they might use organic cotton in their t-shirts, but not pay their garment workers a living wage to make them. Or they might call their jackets 'vegan leather' but make them from plastic instead.
No Proof : When a brand claims to be sustainable but cannot provide any evidence, for example through scientific data, third-party certifications or independent audits.
Vagueness : When a brand uses terms such as 'eco friendly', 'natural materials' or 'kind to the planet', but haven't gone beyond to actually define how their products can be described using these terms.

Household waste

(noun) waste material usually generated in the residential environment.
One third of greenhouse emissions globally come from agriculture, and 30% of the food we produce is wasted – about 1.8 billion tonnes of it a year.To put it into context – It is the same amount of CO2 produced by an average passenger vehicle after driving around over 90 km. Throwing away 3kg of edible food in households results in greenhouse gases equivalent to 23kg of CO2 being emitted into the atmosphere.If, as a planet, we stopped wasting food altogether, we’d eliminate 8% of our total emissions.
What can we do –
Audit our waste to REDUCE what we are consuming.
ROT the waste.
REMEMBER to use what we have.
REFUSING to overstock.


(noun) people who inspire us to do a little better everyday, through their actions, values and learnings.
When it comes to sustainability, we strongly believe, progress is better than perfection. Living more sustainably can seem like a big task, but if you take it one day at a time, you’ll be surprised at how simple and fulfilling it is. Thankfully, there are people online and offline that make it easier for us to learn about what steps we can take to be better to our own people and planet.


(noun) symbol of zero or low waste lifestyle.
Zero waste is a set of principles focused on waste prevention. It encourages the redesign of resource life cycles so that all products are reused. The goal is for no trash to be sent to landfills, incinerators or the ocean. It helps in making conscious decisions based on 5Rs, directed toward minimizing waste that could fit in a jar by the year-end. There is a growing movement of people who can fit a year's household waste into a jam jar. They do it with grit and by following the 5 Rs of sustainable living: Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Rot, and Recycle.

Keep it simple

(philosophy) to not do something in a complex or fancy way. Eco-friendly, sustainable, and ethical living. With so many terms out there, taking the first few steps towards living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle can be overwhelming. However, it doesn't need to be.
It is time you make small, doable changes at a pace that you can sustain. It is unfair to expect anyone to be perfect from day zero. You are allowed to course-correct, you are allowed to change your mind.


Local (adjective) relating to a particular region; an extremely crucial part of sustainability.
Buying local produce or supporting local artisans has more than environmental benefits.
Essentially by choosing local, you help create jobs, contribute to improved public infrastructure and invest in your community both socially and economically. And of course, also reduces 'product miles' thereby reducing fossil fuel pollution.


(noun) small plastic pieces less than five millimeters long which can be harmful to our ocean and aquatic life. It consist of PBDEs (Polybrominated diphenyl ethers) and TBBPA ( Tetrabromobisphenol A ).
Microplastics are present in almost every product we use in our daily life. Ranging from self-care products to fashion products contain different levels of microplastics. But, the cosmetic industry uses microplastic in an ample amount to thicken the substance and increase the quantity.
So, when you apply face cream, you may unintentionally be applying plastic. The compounds in it make the plastic non-degradable and gradually to a menace by mixing up with soil and water bodies.
Microplastic pollution is not just causing harm to the environment but also directly evident to our health including reproductive harm, obesity, and cancer. It may not be practical to avoid every product with microplastics but what you can do is, reduce the usage, reuse if it is possible and try to use sustainable Eco-friendly alternatives.

Net Zero (Carbon)

This balance occurs when the quantity of carbon we add to the atmosphere equals the amount removed. To achieve net zero emissions, emissions from residences, transportation, agriculture, and industry must cut down on the quantity of carbon they emit into the environment. However, in some industries, such as aviation, eliminating emissions will be too difficult or costly.
These 'residual emissions will have to be removed from the atmosphere, either by modifying how we use our land so that it can absorb more carbon dioxide, or by extracting them directly through 'carbon capture, use, and storage technology'.


(adjective) relating to food or derivative products produced without the use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides.
Eating organic foods reduces the amount of chemicals you absorb through your food in the form of preservatives and pesticides. Organic veggies and fruits also tend to be fresher as they do not have preservatives added to increase their shelf life. FSSAI's Jaivik Bharat logo, the India Organic Logo or the PGS-India Organic Logo will let you know if the products you buy are certified organic

Product stewardship

(noun) a method used by businesses to manage the environmental effects of various products.
According to product stewardship, those involved in the manufacture, sale, use, and disposal of products share responsibility for ensuring that those items or materials are managed in a way that minimizes their impact on the environment and human health and safety throughout their lifecycle. This method focuses on the product itself, and everyone involved in the product's lifespan is encouraged to take responsibility for reducing the product's environmental, health, and safety implications.

Quality Over Quantity

(philosophy) mantra of minimalism.
Reducing our consumerist behaviour is a vital. Buying high quality products -- whether it is appliances or clothes and caring for them will mean they last longer. Sure, it may cost you a little more in the short term but as you go on, you'll find that you don't have to replace those items for a long time. In fact, you may even end up saving your hard-earned cash. Many well-made products from sustainable companies offer lifetime warranties too. A couple of other side benefits include -- you get to treat yourself to something nice and if you have kids they may inherit some of your prized purchases from you.

5 Rs of Sustainability

(verb)While you may not necessarily squeeze all your waste into one single mason jar, you can still have the goal of leading as sustainable a life as is possible for you by adopting the 5 R’s of zero waste living.
Refuse and Reduce to bring less in;
Reuse to maintain balance;
Recycle when you can;
Rotyour kitchen scraps into compost.

Slow Fashion

(noun) a movement that is fast gaining popularity. The term was coined by Kate Fletcher of the Centre for Sustainable Fashion. Unlike today, where you can just pop into a mall and buy an outfit for the next soiree, traditionally people would either stitch their own clothes or have them made from locally sourced materials. These clothes were treasured and were designed to last them a long time.
Slow fashion follows some of these traditions. Here is how slow fashion compares to fast fashion:
1. Slow fashion clothing is designed to last. Fast fashion is meant to be worn and discarded every few months increasing waste.
2. Slow fashion is often produced by smaller, boutique enterprises using locally sourced sustainable materials. Fast fashion is typically produced by large chains often using synthetic materials.
While many large brands are trying to portray a sustainable image, the reality can often be different. As consumers, it is our right to ask what their initiatives are, what they do with unsold clothing (it is often burned), and what happens to the clothes you buy once they are no longer usable. The more we ask these questions, the more your favourite brands are likely to take measures to make their clothing sustainable.


(noun) open sharing of information from a business to its consumers.
The information shared may be about the company's environment, social or corporate impacts. In order for a company to be truly sustainable, they need to be completely transparent about all their practices. Transparent companies take the guesswork out of trying to figure out whether a company is actually sustainable or merely greenwashing its image. Sustainable businesses typically publish 'sustainability reports' where they describe their practices with regards to their environmental efforts, relationships with local communities, and protection of human rights among others.
To know whether a company is transparent about their practices, you can check their website for sustainability reports. If you can't find them, simply write in to ask. Any company proud of their practices will be happy to supply you with the information you are looking for.


(Verb) reuse (discarded objects or material) in such a way as to create a product of higher quality or value than the original.
Upcycling means repurposing, refreshing, or creating objects from materials that would otherwise have been thrown away as waste or recycled. Upcycling differs from recycling, in that you remove an object out of the waste cycle before it heads for the recycling centre or ends up as landfill. Sanding and painting old furniture to give it a new look, turning glass bottles into lamps, or making a quilt from old clothes are all examples of upcycling.


(adjective) a person practice of abstaining from meat and by-products of animal slaughter.
What you eat is a deeply personal choice. However, there are things you can do to help reduce the environmental impact of the food you eat. The meat and dairy industry is known to be responsible for around one fifth of greenhouse gas emissions worldwide. Vast areas of land need to be taken over for meat production including growing feed for the animals. The feed industry contributes to soil and water pollution through the numerous chemical fertilizers and pesticides used to produce the feed. While overall a vegetarian diet may be more eco-friendly, it's important to consider what vegetables you are buying. For example, avocados grown in Spain or California and then imported to India will have huge carbon footprint. Buying locally grown produce is key. While switching to an entirely plant-based diet may not be an option for all, and indeed it need not be, however reducing your consumption of meat can help reduce the pressure your food puts on the environment. What you can do is decide to NOT eat meat on particular days of the week and eat only locally grown vegetables on those days.


(noun) unwanted or unusable material, substances, or by-products. Nearly every household generates waste. Depending on their lifestyles -- the waste may range from fitting into a pint jar every year to about 2 kilos of solid waste per family in India today per day. When you think about the number of people we have, the numbers are staggering.
Naturally, a zero waste lifestyle is something to aspire towards. However, until we get to that point, there are plenty of things we can do to reduce the amount of waste we generate. One way to go about this is to adopt the philosophy of 'Essentialism'. The main maxim behind essentialism is “less but better.” Essentialism doesn't mean living like a hermit, instead it means weeding out the unnecessary things in life and learning to say 'No' to wasteful objects and thoughts. Composting your food waste and upcycling or recycling what you cannot compost are great ways to start reducing the waste you generate.




(acronym) You Only Live Once.
This immensely popular phrase is flooding the internet. People often use it to defend their extreme behaviour and their indulgences. We believe we should take this phrase back and use it to remind ourselves that even though we only live once, our lives can have far-reaching impacts on the planet that is here to stay. It is our solemn duty to preserve, and maybe even improve, what is left of our planet for future generations to come. Adopting sustainable practices can help us preserve the earth for future generations. So lets put our best feet forward, live holistically fulfilling lives and have fun while having a positive impact on the earth that has nurtured us so well.

Zero waste

(noun) a situation in which no waste material is produced.
It involves responsible consumption of goods and by no means requires one to live like a hermit In fact, those who have adopted this lifestyle have said that their lives are more fulfilling due to it.
The basic principles are simple: Reduce what you need, Reuse what you can, Recycle what little is left and Rot (compost) food waste.
The entire process can require some creativity when it comes to repurposing items but there are entire communities out there that can help you with this. It can sound scary but don't be afraid - you don't have to go the whole hog all at once. The idea is to take baby steps. Start simple. For example, only use reusable shopping bags, carry your own reusable water bottle and straws wherever you go and use cleaning cloths instead of paper towels in the kitchen. You'll find it is easier done than said!