Growing Schools

Glossary

Biodegradable
Able to break down naturally in the environment producing only carbon dioxide, water and non-toxic, organic residues
Biofuel
Fuel derived directly from living organisms, generally plants. Usually refers to liquid fuels
e.g. biodiesel
Biomass
In biology, means the total weight of living things in a given area. When talking about renewables it means organic matter derived from plants that can be used as a fuel. Biomass usually refers to solid fuels. Liquids tend to be called biofuels
Biopolymer
Plastic made from plants, or made by micro-organisms
Compostable
Able to biodegrade in a composting environment (e.g. a garden compost heap, or community composting scheme)
Greenhouse gas
Gas such as carbon dioxide or methane that acts in the same way as glass in a greenhouse, trapping warmth and thus contributing to global warming
HDPE
High-density polyethylene, a plastic usually made from petrochemicals, which can also be made from renewable materials
Landfill site
Area such as a quarry or other excavated ground, used to dump and eventually bury rubbish. Suitable sites are in increasingly short supply, and can lead to problems with pollution
MDF
Medium-density fibreboard, a construction material made in sheets by compressing wood particles with resin
Melamine
Strictly melamine resin or melamine formaldehyde, a polymer of cyanamide and formaldehyde
Petrochemical
A chemical derived from petroleum oil or natural gas
PHB
Polyhydroxybutyrate, a plastic made from sugar by bacteria
Plastic
A general term for a wide range of synthetic (man-made) polymers. Most are derived from petroleum oil, and are largely composed of carbon and hydrogen together with smaller amounts of oxygen, chlorine, nitrogen and/or sulphur
Polyethylene
A polymer of ethylene, often shortened to polythene
Polymer
Substance consisting of large molecules that are made from lots of small molecules joined together. Polyethylene and nylon are man-made polymers: starch, cellulose and rubber are natural polymers
Renewable
Capable of being produced indefinitely, not used up. Renewable energy is produced using the natural power of the sun, wind, or moving water. Renewable materials are obtained from crop plants that can be regrown easily
Surfactant
A surface-acting compound, often used to describe chemicals that help dissolve grease
Sustainable
Able to be carried on without depleting natural resources or damaging the environment
Washing soda
Sodium carbonate decahydrate, Na2CO3ยท10(H2O), a crystalline mineral that dissolves easily and helps remove dirt and grease
Wicker
Hard fibres woven into a useful object such as a basket. The fibres are often pliable twigs, usually willow
 

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