Terminology

The following words and phrases are used in the film Be the Change.

Activist/
activism
An activist is a person who takes action to bring about social or political change. This action can take many forms, including letter writing campaigns, rallies, strikes, boycotts, advertising, blogging and even guerrilla tactics. While activism is often considered synonymous with protesting and dissent, activism can also bring about change in a positive way, such as leading by example.

City gardening/
urban gardening
The practice of growing flowers, fruits, vegetables and herbs in urban areas. City gardeners make the most of small spaces to produce food as well as green their neighbourhoods.

Co-housing Communities that are owned and managed jointly by residents, with common facilities that. Cohousing combines the advantages of private homes with the economic and social benefits of shared sharing resources, space and items.

Composting The practice of collecting organic household and garden waste in a container or large pile and allowing it to decompose. Composting not only reduces the amount of garbage sent to landfills, but the end product can be spread on gardens to return nutrients to the soil.

Consumerism/
consumer society
The practice of equating of personal happiness with the purchase and consumption of material possessions. A consumer society is one that promotes this idea and considers ever-increasing consumption to be advantageous to the economy.

Dry toilet Any toilet that does not require water to function. Dry toilets range from simple pit latrines to complex systems that composte waste matter.

Grey water Wastewater generated from domestic sanitation processes such as bathing, washing dishes and laundry and bathing, but not including toilet waste (which is called blackwater). Greywater can be collected and reused, for example to irrigate gardens.

LEED certification The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), sets standards for environmentally sustainable construction. Buildings are rated Certified, Silver, Gold or Platinum according to technical criteria that include construction materials and practices, site selection, development density, availability of public and alternative transportation, water and energy efficiency, use of renewable energy, stormwater management, indoor air quality, etc.

Lifecycle cost The full cost of products of services over their entire existence, including raw material production, refining, manufacturing, distribution/transportation, use and disposal. Lifecyle cost takes into account not just financial costs but also environmental damage, land use and resource depletion.

Living lightly The act of making sustainable choices in an effort to reduce one’s environmental footprint. Living lightly implies a hopeful approach that relies on setting a positive example, rather than inducing guilt or cajoling others to change their habits.

Off-grid home An autonomous, self-sufficient home that does not rely on public utilities such as a municipal water supply, sewer, natural gas or purchased electricity. An off-grid house may not use any electricity at all, but more commonly uses electrical power that is generated on-site with renewable energy sources such as solar or wind, or with a generator.

Organic food Food produced without the use of conventional pesticides, artificial fertilizers, human waste or sewage sludge, and processed without ionizing radiation or food additives. Organic meat comes from livestock reared without the routine use of antibiotics or growth hormones. In most countries, organic produce may also not be genetically modified.

Passive solar design Construction that relies on the sun’s daily and yearly cycles to maintain a comfortable interior temperature, thus reducing the need for active heating and cooling systems such as furnaces and air conditioners.

Phosphates Inorganic compounds found in many dishwasher detergents. Phosphates have been eliminated from laundry detergents in North America, Japan and most of Western Europe. Phosphates boost cleaning power, but their release into waterways through sewer systems causes algal blooms that harm other aquatic life.

Photovoltaic energy Sunlight that is converted to electricity using photovoltaic or solar cells. Photovoltaic (PV) cells, also called solar cells, are semiconductor devices usually made of silicon.

Seed saving The practice of collecting and saving seeds from one’s garden at the end of the growing season to plant the next year’s crop. Traditional beans, tomatoes, lettuce and peppers are among the best candidates for seed saving, while hybrid varieties usually produce sterile seeds that won’t grow.

Sustainability The capaicity to maintain a state or a practice indefinitely by avoiding environmental damage or the depletion of natural resources.

Sustainable trail A hiking, mountain biking or other trail that is constructed and maintained in a way that minimizes the impact on the environment, i.e. plant damage, erosion, water flow.

TV toys Children’s toys advertised on television in commercials that are deceptive yet very persuasive, and often promise more than the toys can deliver.

Urban infill Construction on land within existing urban boundaries, especially obsolete or underused buildings and plots of land that are redeveloped as part of a neighbourhood renewal effort.

Wind turbine A turbine with rotating blades or a vaned wheel that generates electricity when rotated by the wind.

Workplace environmentalism Organized or informal effort to introduce sustainable practices in the workplace, such as paper recycling or energy efficiency.

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