The Ultimate ESG Glossary


Welcome to our comprehensive glossary of sustainability terms. In today’s rapidly changing world, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors have become key considerations for businesses and individuals alike. This glossary aims to provide you with a clear understanding of the terminology associated with ESG, sustainability, and the innovative software solutions driving positive change.


From defining concepts like net zero, circular economy, and carbon footprint to exploring the importance of B Corp certification and supply chain transparency, this glossary covers a wide range of sustainability terms that are essential for navigating the sustainable business landscape. Additionally, we delve into the realm of sustainability software, exploring how technology can help organizations measure, track, and manage their environmental and social impact.


Whether you’re a sustainability professional, investor, or simply someone passionate about creating a better future, this glossary will equip you with the knowledge to actively engage in discussions around sustainability, ESG, and the vital role of software solutions in driving progress.


B Corp

A certification provided by the nonprofit organization B Lab to businesses that meet rigorous social and environmental standards. B Corps are required to consider the impact of their decisions on various stakeholders, including workers, communities, and the environment.



A certification program that ensures environmentally friendly and safe production processes in the textile and apparel industry. Bluesign certification covers aspects such as resource efficiency, consumer safety, air emissions, and water pollution.


Carbon Footprint

The total amount of greenhouse gasses, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2), emitted directly or indirectly by an individual, organization, event, or product over its lifecycle. Measuring and reducing carbon footprints is essential for mitigating climate change.


Carbon Neutral

Achieving a net-zero carbon footprint by balancing carbon emissions with carbon removal or offsetting. Carbon-neutral fashion brands or products strive to minimize their greenhouse gas emissions and offset the remaining emissions through projects such as reforestation or renewable energy initiatives.


Circular Economy

An economic model that aims to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency. It promotes the continuous use of resources through practices like recycling, reusing, and remanufacturing, rather than the traditional linear “take-make-dispose” model.


Closed-Loop Supply Chain

A supply chain system in which products and materials are recycled, reused, or remanufactured to minimize waste and maximize resource efficiency. It aims to create a circular flow of materials, reducing the need for raw material extraction.


Closed-Loop Textile Recycling

A process that recycles textile waste into new fibers or products. It involves collecting, sorting, and mechanically or chemically transforming textiles to extract valuable materials and reduce the need for virgin resources.


ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) 

Environmental, Social, and Governance. ESG factors are used to evaluate the sustainability and ethical impact of investments. Environmental factors consider a company’s impact on the environment, social factors assess its relationships with employees, communities, and customers, and governance factors evaluate its leadership and management practices.


Ethical Fashion

Fashion that considers the social and environmental impacts of its production processes, materials, and supply chains. Ethical fashion brands prioritize fair wages, safe working conditions, and respect for human rights throughout their operations.


Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)

A policy approach that holds producers accountable for the environmental impacts of their products throughout their life cycle, including their end-of-life disposal. EPR encourages producers to take responsibility for the collection, recycling, or safe disposal of their products.



Fair Trade

A movement that advocates for better prices, fair labor conditions, and social sustainability for producers and workers in developing countries. Fair trade certification ensures that products meet specific social, economic, and environmental standards.


Fast Fashion

A business model characterized by rapid production and turnover of inexpensive clothing to align with the latest fashion trends. Fast fashion often leads to overconsumption, low-quality garments, and increased waste generation.


Green Supply Chain Management

The integration of environmentally responsible practices into supply chain activities. It involves considering the environmental impacts of sourcing, production, transportation, and distribution, and implementing measures to reduce resource consumption and emissions.



The deceptive practice of making misleading or unsubstantiated claims about the environmental benefits of a product, service, or company. Greenwashing aims to create a false impression of sustainability or eco-friendliness.


Life Cycle Assessment (LCA)

A systematic analysis of the environmental impacts of a product, process, or service throughout its entire life cycle. It considers resource extraction, production, use, and disposal to identify areas for improvement and inform sustainable decision-making. Get the details on the pros and cons of LCAs.


Net Zero

Achieving a balance between the greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere and those removed or offset, resulting in no net addition to the overall amount of greenhouse gases. This goal is crucial in combating climate change.


Renewable Energy

Energy derived from naturally replenishing sources, such as sunlight, wind, water, and geothermal heat. Unlike fossil fuels, renewable energy sources have a reduced environmental impact and contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions.


Responsible Sourcing

The practice of selecting suppliers and materials based on their social and environmental performance. Responsible sourcing in the fashion industry aims to ensure that raw materials, components, and finished products are obtained in an ethical and sustainable manner.


Scope 1 Emissions

Scope 1 emissions refer to direct greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that occur from sources owned or controlled by an organization. These emissions include those generated from on-site combustion of fossil fuels, such as emissions from company-owned vehicles or equipment, as well as emissions from industrial processes.


Scope 2 Emissions

Scope 2 emissions refer to indirect greenhouse gas emissions that result from the consumption of purchased electricity, heat, or steam by an organization. These emissions occur outside the organization’s boundaries but are associated with its activities. Scope 2 emissions are typically generated by external sources, such as power plants that supply electricity to the organization.


Scope 3 Emissions

Greenhouse gas emissions that occur indirectly from the activities of an organization but are a consequence of its operations. Scope 3 emissions include all emissions from sources not owned or directly controlled by the organization, such as those from purchased goods and services, transportation, and waste disposal.


Slow Fashion

An alternative to fast fashion, slow fashion emphasizes quality over quantity, encourages conscious consumption, and promotes timeless designs. It focuses on sustainable production practices, fair trade, and durability to reduce the environmental impact of the fashion industry.


Social Compliance Audit

An assessment conducted by companies or third-party organizations to evaluate suppliers’ compliance with social and labor standards. It helps identify any violations, ensure fair and safe working conditions, and promote responsible business practices.


Social Impact

The effect of an organization’s activities on society. Social impact encompasses both positive and negative outcomes and involves considerations such as community development, poverty alleviation, human rights, and social justice.


Social Responsibility

The ethical duty of individuals, organizations, and businesses to act in ways that benefit society at large. This involves considering the social impacts of decisions, supporting communities, and promoting positive change.


Supplier Code of Conduct

A set of guidelines or principles that outline the expectations and requirements for suppliers’ social, environmental, and ethical practices. It helps ensure that suppliers align with a company’s sustainability goals and values.


Supply Chain

The network of organizations, activities, resources, and technologies involved in the creation and distribution of a product or service. It encompasses all stages from raw material extraction to end-user consumption.


Supply Chain Transparency

The extent to which information about the processes, practices, and impacts within a supply chain is readily available and accessible. Transparent supply chains enable stakeholders to make informed decisions and hold organizations accountable.


Sustainable Consumption

The practice of using goods and services in a way that minimizes negative impacts on the environment, society, and the economy. It involves conscious choices, resource efficiency, and minimizing waste generation.


Sustainable Development

Development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. It balances social, economic, and environmental considerations to ensure long-term well-being.


Sustainable Fibers

Fibers derived from sources that are renewable, have lower environmental impacts, and promote sustainable agriculture practices. Examples include organic cotton, hemp, bamboo, linen, and recycled fibers.


Sustainable Packaging

Packaging that is designed, sourced, produced, and managed in a way that has reduced environmental impacts. It aims to minimize resource consumption, promote recyclability or compostability, and reduce waste generation.


Sustainable Fashion

The practice of producing, consuming, and disposing of fashion items in an environmentally and socially responsible manner. It involves considering the entire lifecycle of garments, promoting ethical labor practices, and using sustainable materials and manufacturing processes.


Triple Bottom Line

A framework that measures organizational success based on three dimensions: economic, social, and environmental. It emphasizes the need for businesses to consider not only their financial outcomes, but also outcomes related to society and the environment.


As we conclude our journey through this comprehensive glossary, it is evident that the language of sustainability, ESG, and sustainability software is essential for creating a more sustainable future. By understanding terms like carbon neutral, sustainable consumption, and responsible sourcing, we can make informed decisions and drive positive change in our personal and professional lives.


Moreover, the emergence of sustainability software solutions has empowered organizations to measure, analyze, and improve their ESG performance, leading to more transparent and accountable practices. From supply chain management to life cycle assessment and beyond, these software tools are revolutionizing the way businesses approach sustainability.


By integrating ESG principles, promoting sustainability initiatives, and leveraging the power of software solutions, we can collectively address the pressing environmental and social challenges we face. We hope this glossary serves as a valuable resource as you navigate the complex and evolving world of sustainability, empowering you to contribute to a more sustainable and resilient future for all.


The journey towards a more sustainable world starts with understanding the language of sustainability and embracing the power of innovative software solutions. Together, we can create a future where environmental stewardship, social responsibility, and effective governance are at the forefront of decision-making and action.


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