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Brits love using sustainability buzz words like ‘biomass’ and ‘carbon neutral’

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BRITS love using sustainability buzz words such as ‘biomass’ and ‘carbon neutral’ – even though most people don’t know what they mean.

A study of 2,000 adults found they use terms such as “green”, “eco friendly” and “sustainability” as often as once a day, but almost two thirds don’t completely understand them.

Two thirds of British adults admitted they use sustainability buzz words without knowing what they mean (file image)

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Two thirds of British adults admitted they use sustainability buzz words without knowing what they mean (file image)Credit: Getty – Contributor

Other confusing words included “carbon footprint”, “regenerative” and “ecological”. 

The research also found 81 per cent of adults think there is plenty of jargon when it comes to sustainability and being environmentally friendly.

And 73 per cent think there are too many eco-related words, making it difficult to differentiate between them.

But 58 per cent admitted they would like to be more educated on words and phrases associated with sustainability.

It also emerged that 74 per cent think there should be more education about saving and caring for the planet in schools.

While 61 per cent believe that if we had more education around the jargon, it would lead to more people doing their bit for the planet.  

ORGANIC JARGON

The study was commissioned by Yeo Valley Organic, one of the first brands to introduce regenerative farming into their produce process.

Yeo Valley Organic managing director, Adrian Carne, said: “There is so much jargon around saving the planet and each word has a different meaning, so it can get very confusing. 

“As the world acts against climate change, we must understand these terms.

“We want everyone to feel included and join the conversation – and really understand how you can do your part to help slow down climate change.

“Whether it’s buying organic products to cut down on your carbon footprint, turning lights off to save energy, or simply educating yourself on the topic, small steps can make a big difference.”

Lexiographer Susie Dent said "ecolinguistics" is a powerful tool in fighting climate change

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Lexiographer Susie Dent said “ecolinguistics” is a powerful tool in fighting climate change

Confusion around the topic has led to 36 per cent using a word or phrase related to sustainability in conversation without being fully confident they were using it correctly.

A quarter said they have corrected someone else on the meaning or use of a word or phrase related to sustainability, the survey by OnePoll revealed.

As a result, 79 per cent think these buzz words should be shared in layman’s terms for everyday people to understand.

Lexiographer Susie Dent said: “Language shapes our environment, but our environment also shapes our language, in quite fundamental ways. 

“What has become known as ‘ecolinguistics’ is a powerful tool in fighting climate change – our understanding of its vocabulary and the stories it tells determine how we feel about our planet and its future. 

“Our children are immersed in the language of sustainability: to them, words like ‘regenerative’ will be as normal as ‘recycling’ has become to us.

“But as adults we too can increase our understanding and involvement by exploring and decoding the language of the environment and, crucially, its application to our daily lives.”

SUSTAINABILITY BUZZ WORDS – IN ORDER OF MOST TO LEAST UNDERSTOOD

Two thirds of British adults admitted they use sustainability buzz words without knowing what they mean. These are the most-used terms from most to least understood:

Recycle 

Climate change 

Global warming 

Energy efficient 

Organic 

Sustainable         

Eco-friendly        

Sustainability     

Renewable energy          

Composting        

Green (in an environmental context, not the colour)        

Fairtrade              

Ethical   

Conservation     

Climate crisis      

Biodegradable   

Carbon footprint              

Emissions            

Deforestation    

Greenhouse effect          

Greenhouse gas               

Zero waste          

Ecological             

Carbon 

Carbon neutral  

Rewilding            

Carbon offsetting             

Net zero               

Biofuel  

Carbon credits   

Zero carbon        

Carbon sequestration    

Regenerative     

Carbon locking   

Natural capital   

Agroforestry      

Biomass               

Regenerative farming    

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