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green glossary

Biodegradable -Products that can break down and decompose naturally through biological processes of the environment.

Carbon footprint -A measure of the amount of greenhouse gases and, specifically, carbon dioxide emitted by an entity (e.g. a person, an organization, a mode of transport) through its activities during a given period.

Composting -Breaking down of organic material by bacteria, yeasts and fungi into healthy, fertile soil.

Eco friendly or environment friendly or green -Products, services and practices that cause minimal or no damage to the environment.

Fairtrade -Usually refers to a movement whose goal is to help producers in developing countries get a fair price for their products and thus reduce poverty, strive for the ethical treatment of workers and farmers and promote environmentally sustainable practices.

FSC -The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an international not for-profit organisation that promotes responsible management of the world’s forests through setting standards, certification and labelling of forest products so that businesses and consumers can influence how forests worldwide are managed. The FSC label on wood products indicates that the wood comes from a well-managed forest that has been inspected and certified to comply with an internationally agreed set of environmental, social and economic standards.

Green washing -Derived from "whitewash", Green washing refers to the practice of making misleading or deceptive claims to promote the perception that an organization's aims and policies are environmentally friendly when, in fact, these might be questionable.

Leaching -Leaching is the extraction of chemicals from a material. In the context of farming, it leads to contamination of groundwater because, as water from rain seeps into the ground, it leaches the chemicals and pesticides used in farming and carries them into the water supply. Leaching is also used in reference to toxic chemicals like phthalates, commonly used in plastic products, which are released in air, food and water over time.

Natural -Though there is no clear definition of ‘natural’, in the context of products it usually refers to those products where all or majority of ingredients are from natural sources like plants and where no synthetic substances are used.

Organic -Refers to farming methods that involve production without the use of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or other artificial chemicals.

Organic cotton -Cotton that is grown and processed without the use of toxic chemicals and pesticides throughout the farming and production life cycle, employing biological pest control methods, use of natural fertilizers and low impact dyes to significantly reduce the crop's environmental impact.

Phthalates - Phthalates are chemicals (called plasticisers) that are added to plastics to increase their flexibility, transparency and durability, as the plastic would, otherwise, be brittle and crack easily. They are widely used in adhesives and glues, electronics, building materials, personal-care products, medical devices, detergents, packaging, children's toys, modelling clay, waxes, paints, pharmaceuticals, food products, and textiles. Phthalates are not chemically bound to the plastics they are added to and so, they are easily released into the environment, and into our food and water.

Recycling -Recycling is a process to convert waste materials into new products so that potentially re-usable materials can be made into useful things rather than ending up in landfills or consuming energy for its disposal, and thus also reducing the consumption of fresh material. Upcycling is a related term used when the recycled product is of enhanced quality and value than the waste materials used.

Renewable -A renewable resource is a natural resource which can replenish with the passage of time, either through biological reproduction or other naturally recurring

SLES and SLS -Sodium Lauryl Ether Sulfate or SLES is a chemical emulsifier used in cosmetics and cleaning products including shampoos, hair colour, toothpastes, body wash, cleansers, liquid hand soaps, dishwashing liquids, laundry detergents and bath oils which gives these products their lathering/ foaming properties. SLES is a known skin irritant and the process to create SLES results in a by-product called 1,4 dioxane which is a groundwater contaminant and a suspected carcinogenic. Likewise, Sodium Laureth Sulfate or SLS is a foaming agent often used in soaps and detergents.

Sustainable -The literal meaning is to be able to maintain at a certain rate or level. In the context of production or sourcing, refers to products that have been produced while conserving an ecological balance by avoiding depletion of natural resources in the process.

Toxin -A poisonous substance, can be natural or man-made.

VOCs -Volatile Organic Compounds or VOCs are chemicals emitted by many everyday products including paints and lacquers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, cosmetics, art supplies and craft materials including glues and adhesives, paints, permanent markers etc. VOCs tend to irritate the eyes, nose, throat, lungs and skin, can cause headaches, nausea, and damage to the liver, kidney and the nervous system and, over long exposure, may be carcinogenic.

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