demystifying carbon jargon

‘Greenwashing’. ‘Sustainable living’. ‘Carbon offsetting’. ‘Wish-cycling’. With the number of sustainability buzzwords seemingly growing by the day, you’d be forgiven for feeling a little overwhelmed by trying to keep up with all the latest terminology!

But what do these terms really mean? What is the context surrounding them? And what about all the other jargon that stems from them?

After recently debunking some of the most popular recycling symbols that we come across in packaging, this month we’re demystifying some of the most common ‘carbon jargon’!



Let’s start with an easy one: ‘greenwashing’ is what a brand does when making false or misleading claims about its sustainability practices in order to appeal to environmentally-conscious consumers. Always be aware of greenwashing and make sure do your research before supporting a company that claims to be sustainable.


Zero waste

Zero waste is a philosophy that aims to eliminate all waste from our daily lives. This means minimising the amount of waste we produce and ensuring that the items we buy are either recycled, composted, or reused. Believe us – even the small changes can make a big difference!


Carbon footprint

Your carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases that are emitted as a result of your activities. In short, it’s a way of measuring your impact on the environment. Everything we do has a carbon footprint, from driving a car to using a computer. The goal is to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible by making choices that will ultimately benefit our environment.


Circular economy

An economic system that is designed to eliminate waste and promote sustainability. In a circular economy, resources are kept in use for as long as possible, and waste is reduced to the absolute minimum. This means recycling, reusing, and repairing items instead of throwing them away.


Sustainable development

A set of practices and behaviours that meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. This means balancing economic growth, social well-being, and environmental protection.



Upcycling is the process of taking something that is no longer wanted or needed and turning it into something new and useful. This is different from recycling, which involves breaking down materials to be reused in new products. Upcycling is a great way to reduce waste and give new life to old items.



One that a lot of us have been guilty of at one point or another! Wishcycling is what happens when we throw something in the recycling bin in the hope that it will be recycled, even though it might be contaminated or unsuitable for said recycling bin. 

Now that you have a better understanding of some common sustainability terms, you can start to make more informed choices and contribute to a more sustainable future, starting with how you recycle your discarded cardboard more responsibly.

Remember – sustainability is all about balance. It’s about finding ways to meet our needs while also protecting the environment and ensuring a better future for generations to come.

If you have any questions about assorted terminology around sustainability, please do get in touch via our Instagram page (@beyondtheboxuk)!