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Question submitted on 10/20/04

Do you have commonly accepted definitions for the following words?
  • Eco-efficiency
  • Product Stewardship
  • Dematerialize
  • Sustainable Development
  • Sustainability
  • Eco-effectiveness
  • Life-Cycle Design
  • Cradle-to-Cradle
  • Material Taxes
  • Mandatory Recycling Targets
  • "Take-Back" Requirements
  • LEED
  • Renewable Resources
  • Environmental Cost Accounting
  • Sustainability Index
  • Triple Bottom Line
  • Natural Capitalism
  • Global Climate Change
  • Socially Responsible Investing
  • Natural Step
  • Environmental Labeling
  • Biomimicry


Several of these terms have been coined by Janine Benyus who has been studying biomimicry. Her book is called Biomimicry: Innovation Inspired by Nature.

Amory & Hunter Lovins at the Rocky Mountain Institute have coined a number of these terms as well related to natural capitalism. Visit their web site at or reference their books. The titles dealing with this topic are Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution, The Natural Advantage Of Nations: Business Opportunities, Innovation And Governance In The 21st Century, and A Road Map for Natural Capitalism, an e-book available through

Gil Friend, who is active in the NPPR may also be of assistance. See He also has a weblog at

You might also want to check out The Dictionary of Sustainable Management at, a project of the Presidio School of Management.

If these sources don't help you determine definitions for some of the terms, try using Google's DEFINE search (search syntax is define:word or term). As a test, I used the search string define:"environmental labeling". Google didn't come up with a definition, but did ask if I wanted to search the web. The first result in the web search was to EPA's About Environmental Labeling page, which explains how they define it.

A search for define:biomimicry produced no definitions, but clicking on the "search" link provided a link to, which has a definition at the top of the page.

A search for define:sustainability did produce a list of definitions on the web. You can see the results at

If you type the above terms into Google's search box (with or without define: at the beginning), you'll find that a page at or near the top of the results list will give you a generally accepted definition or explanation of the term.

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