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We’ve found that sustainability buzz words such as biomass, carbon neutral and greenhouse effect are regularly used despite many of us having no idea what they actually mean.

We commissioned a study of 2,000 adults and found that many use terms such as ‘green’, ‘eco friendly’ and ‘sustainability’ as often as once a day – but almost two thirds of us don’t completely understand them.

We also found that 81 per cent of adults think there is lots of jargon when it comes to sustainability and being environmentally friendly. And 73 per cent think there are too many eco-related words which makes it difficult to differentiate the meanings.

It also emerged 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.

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

TV’s best-known lexicographer 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.”

Take The Quiz

Test your own ecolingustics knowledge with our quiz:


  • Recycle 38%
  • Climate change 26%
  • Global warming 21%
  • Energy efficient 19%
  • Organic 18%
  • Sustainable 17%
  • Eco-friendly 16%
  • Sustainability 16%
  • Renewable energy 15%
  • Composting 15%
  • Green (in an environmental context, not the colour) 14%
  • Fairtrade 13%
  • Ethical 13%
  • Conservation 12%
  • Climate crisis 12%
  • Biodegradable 10%
  • Carbon footprint 10%
  • Emissions 10%
  • Deforestation 8%
  • Greenhouse effect 8%
  • Greenhouse gas 7%
  • Zero waste 7%
  • Ecological 7%
  • Carbon 6%
  • Carbon neutral 5%
  • Rewilding 5%
  • Carbon offsetting 4%
  • Net zero 4%
  • Biofuel 4%
  • Carbon credits 4%
  • Zero carbon 4%
  • Carbon sequestration 4%
  • Regenerative 4%
  • Carbon locking 4%
  • Natural capital 3%
  • Agroforestry 3%
  • Biomass 3%
  • Regenerative farming 3%

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Regenerative Organic Farming