The Rohantime Green Glossary is a list of terms that are often used to describe the more sustainable outdoor clothing and gear choices. This is a growing area and we thought it would be beneficial to offer an explanation of some of the terms that you may come across when buying outdoor clothing and gear. This is a work in progress. If you would like to add any terms or talk about any of the terms please let us know in the comments box below and we will update the list. The same applies to the Rohantime Outdoor Gear Glossary already published on Rohantime.
1% for the planet
The 1% for the Planet organisation exists to build and support an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet. It is a global movement of companies donating at least 1% of their annual net revenues to environmental organizations worldwide. http://www.onepercentfortheplanet.org/en/
Alpaca wool is very enduring. Insecticides are not injected into the Alpaca sheep fleece.The animal is very hardy. Most Alpaca products are imported at the moment.
A natural fibre from the bamboo plant. Bamboo has natural, anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties. Bamboo fabric can absorb up to four times more moisture than cotton. It is because of this it has attracted interest amongst outdoor garment manufacturers. Bamboo viscose is a fibre which has been reconstituted from the original bamboo fiber and therefore small amounts of original bamboo fiber remain.
Exhibiting the capability to be being broken down by decomposing (composting) or by exposure to light. the newer Viscose yarns called Tencel™ see Lyocell will biodegrade at the end of their life.
The Blue Angel (Blauer Engel) is a German certification for products and services that have environmentally friendly aspects.
The independent bluesign® standard offers a reliable and proactive tool for the textile production chain – from raw material and component suppliers who manufacture e.g. yarns, dyes and additives, to textile manufacturers, to retailer and brand companies, to consumers. Companies who gear their production to the bluesign® Standard guarantee their direct customers and the consumer that, throughout the entire manufacturing chain, only those components and processes are used which are safe for humans and the environment
The impact of a certain activity on the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. A carbon footprint is defined as: The total amount of greenhouse gases produced to directly and indirectly support human activities, usually expressed in equivalent tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).
The carbon footprint is a very powerful tool to understand the impact of personal behaviour on global warming. Most people are shocked when they see the amount of CO2 their activities create! If you personally want to contribute to stop global warming, the calculation and monitoring of your personal carbon footprint is a good idea. There are many free online carbon footprint calculators on the internet.
Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint.
The Carbon Trust is an independent, not for profit company set up by the UK Government with support from business to take the lead on low carbon technology in the UK.
An interesting new yarn made from Greenfil, a polymer that comes from Castor Beans. The castor plants are from Africa and Asia and are grown on land which cannot be farmed. There is no irrigation of the crops, they are not produced from genetically modified seeds and they are 100% renewable biomass.
In order to render wool machine washable it is often pretreated with chlorine. Millions of pounds of wool are processed each year using this chlorine-based method. There are a few alternative processes that achieve the same results without the use of chlorine. A small number of outdoor companies have source wool that is chlorine-free.
Climate change – Defined by the United Nations Convention on Climate Change as
“change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods”.
A type of manufacturing process that utilizes a cyclical material flow in order to minimize waste. An example of a closed loop fabric see Tencel®
Carbon dioxide (chemical formula CO2) is a chemical compound composed of two oxygen atoms bonded to a single carbon atom. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a greenhouse gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere. Human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels and other processes, are significantly increasing its concentration in the atmosphere, thus contributing to Earth’s global warming.
Coconut Shells – CoCona®
CoCona is activated carbon made from recycled coconut shells. The manufacturers states it provide effective evaporative cooling, odour adsorption and UV protection. Cocona® fibers and yarns are used in a wide range of knits in outdoor garments.
Recycled ground coffee is being used to make an odor control, fast drying, environmentally friendly, absorbent fabric. The process of making fabric out of coffee grounds is very similar to that used to turn bamboo into a viscose-like material. It’s impregnated with ‘activated’ carbon, derived from coconut, which makes it UV-resistant, wicks water away, keeps the wearer cool and binds to sweat to eliminate unpleasant odours. Currently used for mid and base layers.
Corporate social responsibility (CSR)
Corporate citizenship continue to be used but is being superseded by the broader term, corporate sustainability. Corporate sustainability is a business approach that creates long-term consumer and employee value by not only creating a “green” strategy aimed towards the natural environment, but taking into consideration every dimension of how a business operates in the social, cultural, and economic environment.
Cradle-to-cradle, C2C or Cradle 2 Cradle
The phrase “cradle to cradle” itself was coined by Walter R. Stahel in the 1970s. Stahel has emphasized the importance of the economic, ecologic and social advantages of the loop economy, which is increasingly referred to as circular economy. A play on the “Cradle to Grave” phrase, implying that the C2C model is sustainable and considerate of life in general. The Cradle to Cradle model can be viewed as a framework that considers systems as a whole or holistically. C2C Designers consider end of life in their design so that no chemical elements go to landfill but are all properly reused, not just recycled. Only organic material goes to landfill.
Naturally Advanced Technologies (NAT) they produce and make flax-based fibre under the name Crailar.
The practice of recycling a material in such a way that much of its inherent value is lost (for example, recycling plastic into park benches). Downcycling, is the opposite of Upcycling which is the other half of the recycling process. Downcycling involves converting materials and products into new materials of lesser quality. Most recycling involves converting or extracting useful materials from a product and creating a different product or material
The term Ecocide is more recently used to refer to the destructive impact of humanity on its own natural environment.
The concept of making Ecocide an international crime has been around for decades. From the 1970s onwards there has been growing support from government, business and communities to make Ecocide the fifth International Crime against peace to stand alongside the crime of Genocide by amending the Rome Statute. It is part of an emerging body of Earth Law or Earth jurisprudence. Making Ecocide an international crime is proposed in order to protect human rights, the natural environment, prevent runaway climate change and trigger the transformation to the green economy.However, opponents argue that this will criminalise the whole human race.
The collective term of eco textiles refers to a group of textiles that have a reduced , carbon, energy and pollution impact when compared to the standard methods used to produce textiles and manufacture clothing.
Egyptian cotton comes from Egypt, It has very long fibres which are stronger and produces a very soft fabrics. Because of its limited supply and better hand, Egyptian cottons are often more expensive.
Registration from the EU for its environmental management programme. EMAS incorporates the requirements for ISO 14001. You may see that a company has ISO 14001 certification but not EMAS.
Environmental auditing originated in the United States in the 1970s. It is a management tool to measure the performance of the organisation, the management system and processes designed to protect the environment with the aim of accessing and reducing the organisations impact on the environment.
Enviro-Mark was developed in the United Kingdom to provide an Environmental Management System (EMS) accessible to all organisations. Enviro-Mark provides businesses with a framework to assess their performance against agreed standards. Their are five standards, and achievement of each is verified by an external audit.
A written statement, which outlines a business’ aims and principles in relation to managing the environmental effects and aspects of its operations.
An Ethical Policy contains aims and policies of a company that may cover some or all of the following areas: Human Rights, Arms Trade, Genetic Modification, Social Enterprise, Ecological Impact and Animal Welfare
Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)
This is an alliance of companies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and trade union organisations working together to improve the conditions for overseas workers producing for the UK market.
Fair trade is an organised social movement and market-based approach that aims to help producers in developing countries make better trading conditions and promote sustainability.
Fair Wear Foundation
An international initiative which works to improve workplace conditions in international production facilities.
Flax is grown both for its seeds and for its fibers. Various parts of the plant have been used to make fabric, dye, paper, medicines, fishing nets, hair gels, and soap. Flax seed is the source of linseed oil, which has uses as an edible oil, as a nutritional supplement and as an ingredient in many wood finishing products. Flax fibers are amongst the oldest fiber crops in the world. Flax fiber is soft, lustrous and flexible; bundles of fiber have the appearance of blond hair, hence the description “flaxen”. Flax is the emblem of Northern Ireland and used by the Northern Ireland Assembly. See also Crailar
Fluorine-Free outdoor textile alternatives
Include textiles made from membranes of polyester or polyurethane. This clothing is also windproof, has breathability and can withstand a downpour. Products containing controversial PFCs see below) are superior to fluorine-free alternatives only with regard to oil repellency.
Gift Your Gear
An initiative developed by ROG to distribute donated used outdoor gear to UK based community and youth groups. First brand to use Gift your Gear Rohan the UK outdoor clothing manufacturer and retailer
The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is recognised as the leading processing standard for textiles made from organic fibres worldwide. It defines high level environmental criteria along the entire supply chain of organic textiles and requires compliance with social criteria as well.Only textile products that contain a minimum of 70% organic fibres can become certified according to GOTS.
Oeko-Tex Standard 100 has become the best known and most successful label for textiles tested for harmful substances. The Oeko-Tex label is a recognized benchmark for the consumer and also serves as a quality assurance tool for the manufacturer.
Greenwashing is a term describing the deceptive use of green PR or green marketing in order to promote a misleading perception that a company’s policies or products (such as goods or services) are environmentally friendly.
Greenwashing may be described as “spin”
For centuries the hemp fiber has been used for paper, rope and cloth. Hemp fiber is extremely durable and makes great clothing (Levi jeans originally made with hemp). Because of its strength it is again being used by some outdoor clothing manufacturers but to date it is being blended with other fibres.
A global sustainability index to measure and score products, factories and companies. the first version has just been released by the Sustainable Apparel Coalition, the nonprofit group that developed the index. Higg came from the search for the Higgs-Boson particle. The index reflected “our search for the particles of sustainability,” Don’t expect to see the index on your garment label for a few years.
A new fabric made from fermented plant sugars from corn. Conventionally grown corn leaves a particularly large eco-unfriendly footprint via pesticides, water use, and land usage. However Ingeo requires half as much energy as it does to make cotton, even organic cotton, which gives it some advantages.
Leave no Trace
A practice of leaving wilderness areas the exact same way as you found them.
Life Cycle Assessment - Life Cycle Analysis (LCA)
A technique for assessing the potential environmental impacts of a product by examining all the material and energy inputs and outputs at each life cycle stage.
Term used for natural flax fibre or fabrics made from flax fibre. Characteristics include rapid moisture absorption, natural luster, and stiffness. Fabrics made out of flax yarn have many benefits, including being absorbent and cool to wear under a variety of climatic conditions. Organic flax is grown without the use of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. Textiles in a linen-weave texture, even when made of cotton, hemp and other non-flax fibres are also loosely referred to as “linen”.
Also called Tencel™. Produced from cellulose, the main material in plant cells usually from trees. The production process for Lyocell is extremely environmentally friendly – the fibre has all the advantages of a natural material and is 100% bio-degradable.
A wear abrasion test used extensively in Europe. The fabric’s warp and weft are abraded at the same time.
The Merino is a breed of sheep prized for its wool in New Zealand. Merinos are regarded as having fine and soft wool. Merino base layers regulate body temperature by controlling the rate of cooling. They are soft next to skin and odour resistant without the addition of any coatings or additives. A merino base layer is generally priced at the top of the range.
The adoption of a minimum or reduced packaging policy is slow to happen in the Outdoor Industry.
please see Rayon, Tencel and Lyocell Fibre
The common stinging nettle was used to produce textiles for thousands of years. Nettle can be turned into finer fabrics too, with a texture like linen. It has the ability to wick moisture away from the body as well as keeping the wearer cool and trapping warm air, plus being naturally anti-bacterial and mould-resistant. A Dutch fashion label, has started growing its own nettles in eastern Europe and has brought out a range of smart-casual clothes made from the fabric. And in the Himalayas, the giant nettle, allo, is being spun by local communities to create a fair trade, eco-friendly fabric.
Nylon – Recycled Nylon
Like polyester, virgin nylon fibre is made from crude oil. The recycled nylon yarn now available comes from post-industrial waste fibre and yarn collected from a spinning factory and processed into reusable nylon fibre.
A European standard for the impact of textiles on human ecology and the environment. The International Oeko-Tex Association (Oeko-Tex) Founded in 1992, the International Oeko-Tex Association provides uniform, scientifically founded evaluation standards for the human ecological safety of textiles.
Offset or Offsetting
Reducing the impact of a particular action by supporting another organisation or group working to reduce the environmental impact of the action.
Textile Exchange is a non-profit charity operating internationally and committed to the responsible expansion of sustainable textiles across the global textile value chain.
Cotton grown without the use of artificial chemicals such as herbicides or pesticides
It is silk from cocoons where the caterpillar is allowed to complete its life cycle, to transform into a winged silk moth, to emerge from the cocoons, find a mate, lay eggs for the next generation, and die happy.
Polyfluorinated chemicals (PFCs), a class of chemical substances that belong to the larger family known as fluorinated chemicals found in the membranes coatings and finishings on textile products. Read more See also Fluorine-Free alternatives.
Porters Progress was founded in Nepal in May 2000 by Ben Ayers, a writer, activist and climber. Ben started with 12 jackets. By 2004 Porters Progress Nepal had fitted out over 5000 porters with clothing and offered nearly 8,000 English and First-Aid classes; in 2005 over 9,000 porters visited the offices in Nepal. Today the clothing bank continues its free service to loan sleeping bags, jackets, boots and sunglasses to hundreds of porters each season. However over time the kit wears out from the harsh environment in which the porters work. With help from us all they can keep the Clothing Bank well stocked. Rohan have donated many of their sample garments to Porters Progress. http://www.portersprogressuk.org/
The practice of reducing waste by creating and using fewer items that have to be recycled. Precycling emphasises reducing and reusing.
Rayon – See Viscose, Tencel™ and Lycell™
A cellulose based fiber produced from wood or cotton pulp. Newer additions to this group include Tencel™ and Lycell™ produced by Lenzing Fibers Corp based in Austria, in a closed loop process with high environmental credentials and are excellent at moisture management. Rayon is the oldest commercial man made fibre
Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals – strict EU regulation for the reformation of the EU chemicals legislation. According to REACH, only registered (data on physical properties, toxicity data, data on hazard for humans etc. have to be provided by chemical suppliers) and officially evaluated chemicals may be sold. The most hazardous chemicals can only be used if especially authorised.
Recycling and the outdoor industry
Patagonia started the first garment recycling program in the outdoor industry. It enables customers to bring their used clothing back for recycling. Patagonia encourage customers to bring in their used Capilene baselayer, Patagonia fleece or Polartec® fleece. The fabric of these items makes them suitable for recycling. Patagonia can create a new garment made from the recycled polyester. Other brands are looking at individual initiatives for particular products. There is no cross industry initiative.
Possible to recycle. Although in actual fact it often proves to be impossible to do so because of lack of recovery facilities.
Made from post consumer recycled plastic water bottles. Pioneered in outdoor garments by Pataonia who introduced recycle polyester fleece into their range in 1993.
Recycled Polyester is a polyester that has been manufactured by using previously used polyester items. In the outdoor clothing world this is either from polyester water bottles being recycled into polyester fleece or recycled polyester outdoor garment created from used clothes. Patagonia have been able to create polyester garments using previously worn garments. They also started the world’s first garment recycling program – which enables customers to bring their used clothing back for recycling. Patagonia encourage customers to bring in their used Capilene baselayer, Patagonia fleece or Polartec® fleece. The fabric of these items makes them suitable for recycling. Patagonia can create a new garment made from the recycled polyester.
Recycled Polyester Waddings
There are examples 50% recycled material with polyester virgin fibers fillings for insulated jackets and sleeping bags.
Re-use, Explore, Discover (RED) seeks to promote the re-use of outdoor clothing, footwear and equipment after it has been used by the original owner
The greatest environmental gain is delivered when we reduce our consumption. We can do this by simply not purchasing as much but we can also share what we do have. This has particular meaning in the Outdoor Industry with regard to the major purchases like bikes, surf board and tents etc share them with friends & neighbours.
ReFleece is a small design company creating products from a new kind of upcycled felt. The felt is made from reclaimed Patagonia® fleece, collected through Patagonia’s Common Threads™ program, then pressed into Kindle™ and iPad™ cases.
Repurposing is essentially a form of recycling. Instead of throwing an item away, an individual or business finds a new use for it. This can be a cost-effective strategy, since items that can be used instead of discarded prevent a business from having to purchase new, possibly expensive items.
Generate the greatest possible benefit using the smallest possible quantity of natural resources
Retro Outdoor Gear
New Gear that imitates the style of a previous era
Means what it says. Reusing a product delivers a far greatest gain for the environment than recycling that product until it has reached the end of its life. Ebay and Gumtree have done much to develop reuse in outdoor gear.
Often used as a substitute for Reuse
Rice Husk Yarn
This will be available from 2012. The rice harvest generates a lot of rice husk waste which is either burnt or thrown away.
ROG is on-line centre for reuse and recycling of all used outdoor gear. There is a blog called ROGBlog and free listing service to buy, sell, swap and donate used outdoor gear.
A word often used to refer to the process undertaken to render our denim jeans with that distressed look. To achieve this look workers blast the denim with natural sand containing silica, often operating within sealed cabinets. As a result, they inhale crystalline silica dust particles that cause serious damage to the respiratory passages and, in some cases (where the body is unable to expel the particles), silicosis (lung disease).
Made on Germany from Lyocell and seaweed. Lyocell consists of 100% wood pulp fibers and SeaCell combines that with approximately 5% seaweed. Reportedly the nutritional and health benefits of seaweed are actually absorbed into your body while you wear this fabric. It’s available in either “Pure” or “Active” grades. “Active” includes silver woven or embedded throughout, giving it antibacterial properties and the ability to naturally neutralize odors.
A low-grade cloth made from by-products of wool processing, or from recycled wool
A new word for a not-so-new- concept. A combination of shopping and swapping used by Marks and Spencer in the UK to launch their own ll textile take back service in 340 Marks & Spencer stores.
Silk is a very old fibre in the outdoor industry, used as a base layer by many early expeditions. It has been superseded by modern synthetic fabrics.
The Soil Association is a membership charity campaigning for planet-friendly organic food and farming. The Soil Association standards are among the highest and most comprehensive for organic production and processing in the world.The Soil Association symbol is the most recognised organic mark in the UK today.
Cultivated in China for 3,000 years, soya is natural, renewable and biodegradable. Soya fabric is a by-product of the soya food industry. The Soya Fibre is made from the hulls of the beans.
Surfers against Sewage
Surfers Against Sewage are an environmental campaign group with a mission to rid the UK coastline of sewage.
According to Wikipedia Sustainability is the capacity to endure. Google the word and you will get many thousands of explanations and quotes. There is growing concern that the word is so overused and a new term is needed. Responsible is one new word.
Sustainable Apparel Coalition
Has 30 members, representing brands, retailers and suppliers who together account for more than a third of the global apparel and footwear industry including outdoor brands such as Patagonia, REI and Timberland.
To meet the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs (The United Nations Brundtland Commission, 1987).
Sustainable Outdoor Product
A product that has been designed and supplied with the least negative impact on natural ecosystems or resources.
Swapping an item of unwanted clothing with friends often organised as a Swishing Party.
Synthetic leather is a man made fabric that looks like leather. The term pleather (“plastic leather”) is a slang term for synthetic leather made of plastic. Synthetic leather is not the plastic looking, tacky material that it was in the past. Today’s synthetic leather is made much better than the early versions.
Sympatex used in Waterproof Jackets
Sympatex Technology uses a material made from polyether and polyester. Polyether ester is recyclable so in the breathable waterproof membranes and coatings field this is considered to be environmentally friendly.
The Conservation Alliance
In 1989, Patagonia co-founded The Conservation Alliance, along with REI, The North Face and Kelty, to encourage other companies in the outdoor industry to give money to environmental organizations and to become more involved in environmental work. The Alliance now boasts more than 170 member companies, each of which contributes annual dues to a central fund.
The Hohenstein Institute
The Hohenstein Institute is an recognised research and service centre. It was founded Bönnigheim, Germany in 1946. The institute carries out neutral and independent testing and certification of textile products including evaluation of product quality and performance in its accredited laboratories. The test results are documented in the form of various certificates and quality labels, such as the Oeko-Tex Standard 100 for textiles tested for harmful substances. See also Wellness Label.
The Natural Step (TNS)
An international organization founded in Sweden in 1989 that uses a science-based, systems framework to help organizations, individuals and communities take steps towards sustainability.
The Waste Hierarchy
The waste hierarchy in Europe has 5 steps: reduce, reuse, recycle, recovery, and disposal.
Tencel™ see Lyocell Fibre
Tencel™is produced from cellulose, the main material in plant cells usually from trees. The production process is extremely environmentally friendly – the fibre has all the advantages of a natural material and is 100% bio-degradable. To date Tencel™ tends to be blended with other yarns. The fibre is excellent at moisture management.
The process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value. Upcycling is the opposite of downcycling, which is the other half of the recycling process. Downcycling involves converting materials and products into new materials of lesser quality. Most recycling involves converting or extracting useful materials from a product and creating a different product or material
Dyes made from vegetable matter such as indigo, safflower, weld, madder and many other flowers vegetables and trees.
Vintage Outdoor Clothing
Vintage Outdoor Clothing is second hand or previously worn clothing from the period between the 1920’s and the 1960’s. If the clothing predates the 20’s it is considered antique. If it has never been previously worn but was still made in those seven decades, the piece would still be labeled as vintage.
Viscose see Rayon, Tencel™ and Lyocell™
The European word for Rayon. A manufactured fiber made of regenerated cellulose, commonly obtained from wood pulp.
Generally speaking washing temperature recommendations by the brands are falling. Washing at 30 degrees Celsius rather than 40 degrees Celsius is now common. The cooler the wash the greater the saving on energy.
A much newer term that indicates companies are becoming increasely conscious of their water usage and availability. They are awakening to the risk that water scarcity poses to their bottom lines and reputations.
The Hohenstein Institute is an internationally recognised textile research and service centre. Involved in the research, testing and certification of textiles. The label from the Hohenstein Institute called the Wellness Label assures consumers the product can look specifically for certified for comfort and are also easy care.
A test used to measure a fabric’s resistance to wear and abrasion.
Sarah Howcroft – Rohantime all suggestions for the glossary are welcome please use comments below