Acupressure: Based on the principles of acupuncture, this ancient Chinese technique involves the use of finger pressure (rather than needles) on specific points along the body to treat ailments such as tension and stress, aches and pains, menstrual cramps, or arthritis. The system is also used for general preventive health care.

Acupuncture: In acupuncture, fine needles are inserted at specific points to stimulate, disperse, and regulate the flow of chi, or vital energy, and restore a healthy energy balance. Often used in the United States for pain relief, acupuncture is also used to improve well-being and treat acute, chronic, and degenerative conditions in children and adults.

Aikido: Like other Japanese martial arts, aikido is both a method of self-defense and a spiritual discipline. The goal is to harmonize one's chi (vital energy) with that of one's opponent, so that the opponent's strength and weight are used against him or her. Many of the moves are flowing and graceful, similar to those of tai chi.

Abiotic: Non-living; devoid of life

Air Pollution: Airborne contaminants or pollutants that adversely affect the environment or human health. A byproduct of the manufacturing process and transportation of goods. Buying eco-friendly products indirectly reduces air pollution.

Aromatherapy: Aromatherapy uses "essential oils" (the volatile oils distilled from plants) to treat emotional disorders such as stress and anxiety as well as a wide range of other ailments. Oils are massaged into the skin, inhaled, or placed in baths. Aromatherapy is often used in conjunction with massage therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, herbology, chiropractic, and other holistic treatments.

Ayurvedic Medicine: Practiced in India for more than 5,000 years, ayurvedic tradition holds that illness is a state of imbalance among the body's systems that can be detected through such diagnostic procedures as reading the pulse and observing the tongue. Nutrition counseling, massage, natural medications, meditation, and other modalities are used to address a broad spectrum of ailments, from allergies to AIDS. (Some practitioners in this category practice Maharishi Ayur-Ved, a contemporary interpretation of ayurvedic medicine inspired by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder of Transcendental Meditation.)


Bamboo: An alternative to wood. Generally, bamboo is more renewable than wood because it is a fast-growing grass/reed. Care should still be taken when shopping for bamboo products because many cheaply made bamboo items are coated with toxic finishes. Look for natural, food-safe coatings for tabletop items, and certified organic bamboo labels.

Biodegradeable: A material or substance which will decompose quickly and without harmful effects to the environment, when left exposed to nature.

Biofeedback: A technique used especially for stress-related conditions such as asthma, migraines, insomnia, and high blood pressure, biofeedback is a way of monitoring minute metabolic changes in one's own body (e.g., temperature changes, heart rate, and muscle tension) with the aid of sensitive machines. By consciously visualizing, relaxing, or imagining while observing light, sound, or metered feedback, the client learns to make subtle adjustments to move toward a more balanced internal state.

Breathwork: Breathwork is a general term for a variety of techniques that use patterned breathing to promote physical, mental, and/or spiritual well-being. Some techniques use the breath in a calm, peaceful way to induce relaxation or manage pain, while others use stronger breathing to stimulate emotions and emotional release.


Carbon Footprint: The total amount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases emitted over the full lifecycle of a product or service, expressed as grams of CO2 equivalents. Greenhouse gases contribute to global warming and climate change, so reducing carbon footprints is desirable for a healthier earth.

Carbon Offset: Carbon offsetting is the act of mitigating greenhouse gas emissions through emissions trading. For example, a factory or production facility may not be able to reduce its own carbon footprint any further through its own actions, so it may voluntarily purchase credits for another party to offset their actions. The goal of carbon offsets is to attain a carbon neutral overall effect.

Certified: Acknowledging that a product is genuine to what it claims, typically having gone through a process similar to obtaining a license.

Certified Wood: Under the guidance of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), wood-based materials used in building construction that are supplied from sources that comply with sustainable forestry practices, protecting trees, wildlife habitat, streams and soil.

Chinese (Oriental) Medicine: Oriental medical practitioners are trained to use a variety of ancient and modern therapeutic methods-- including acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, moxibustion (heat therapy), and nutritional and lifestyle counseling--to treat a broad range of both chronic and acute illnesses.

Chiropractic: The chiropractic system is based on the premise that the spine is literally the backbone of human health: Misalignments of the vertebrae caused by poor posture or trauma result in pressure on the spinal cord, which may lead to diminished function and illness. The chiropractor seeks to analyze and correct these misalignments through spinal manipulation or adjustment.

Conservation: Minimizing the use of a natural resource, (e.g., water); conservation is an aspect of sustainable resource management.

Construction Waste Management Plan (CWMP): A plan that diverts construction debris from landfills through conscientious plans to recycle, salvage, and reuse. For best results, this type of plan should also eliminate packaging of materials when possible and be carefully monitored or audited by the contractor.

Co-op: Short for Co-operative. Worker cooperatives are owned and democratically controlled by its workers. Since the co-op is worker-owned and membership is not compulsory, this type of manufacturing set-up avoids exploitation of its workers.

Cottage Industry: An industry in which the creation and services of products is home based and not factory based. The products produced are often independent, and one of a kind and not mass produced.


DIY: Do-It-Yourself. Creating things yourself without the help of professionals. A mentality that often goes hand-in-hand with recycling and conserving resources.

Durability: Related to the quality of an item, durability indicated how well a product stands up after a sustained period of use.


Eco-chic: A product or good that is both eco-friendly and hip.

Eco-friendly: An alternative to goods usually bought in most stores. These products are made with ecology and the environment in mind.

Emissions: Emissions are particles and gases released into the air as byproducts. There are many types of emissions. Greenhouse gas emissions, for example, contribute to global warming and is not sustainable to the health of the earth.

Energy Efficient: Products and systems that use less energy to perform as well or better than standard products. While energy-efficient products sometimes have higher up-front costs, they tend to cost less over their lifetime when the cost of energy consumed is factored in. An example of this is fluorescent light bulbs vs. incandescent bulbs.


Fair Trade: A social movement that promotes standards for international labor and gives workers a sense of economic self sufficiency through fair wages and good employment opportunities to economically disadvantaged populations.

Fasting/Natural Hygiene: Natural Hygiene is a health system that seeks to remove the causes of disease and encourage the body's self- healing capacity through natural-food diets and therapeutic fasting. Professional Natural Hygienists are primary care doctors (m.d.s, osteopaths, chiropractors, and naturopaths) who specialize in fasting supervision as a part of natural hygienic care. Natural Hygiene is employed for a wide variety of acute and chronic conditions.

Flat-pack: Refers to furniture that is designed to pack flat, thereby reducing shipping costs and fuel used in transportation. Flat-pak designs are ready to assemble by the customer, right out of the box.

Feng Shui: Feng shui (pronounced "fung shway") is the ancient Chinese practice of configuring home or work environments to promote health, happiness, and prosperity. Fang shun consultants may advise clients to make adjustments in their surroundings--from color selection to furniture placement--in order to promote a healthy flow of chi, or vital energy.

Forestry Stewardship Council: The Forestry Stewardship Council is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable management of the world's forests. FSC-labeled wood products indicate that the wood is harvested from sustainably-managed forests.

Flower Essences: Popularized in the '30s by Edward Bach, M.D., flower essences are intended to alleviate negative emotional states that may contribute to illness or hinder personal growth. Drops of a solution infused with the captured "essence" of a flower are placed under the tongue or in a beverage. The practitioner helps the client choose appropriate essences, focusing on the client's emotional state rather than on a particular physical condition.

FTF: Fair Trade Federation. And association of fair trade wholesalers, retailers and producers that adhere to social criteria and environmental principles that foster a more equitable and sustainable system of production and trade.

FSC: Forestry Stewardship Council. FSC-labeled wood products indicate that the wood is harvested from sustainably-managed forests.


Good Design: A phrase often associated with ideals of Modern Design. Good design traditionally sought to maximize function with form and strived to produce high-quality goods that were democratically available to the masses. In Re:modern's case, good design also encompasses design that has social and environmental integrity.

Green Building: A green building is designed to conserve resources and reduce negative impacts on the environment - whether it is energy, water, building materials or land. Compared to conventional construction, green buildings may use one or more renewable energy systems for heating and cooling, such as solar electric, solar hot water, geothermal, bio mass, or any combination of these.

Green Design: A term used in the building, furnishings, and product industries to indicate design sensitive to environmentaly-friendly, ecological issues.

Greenwashing: Greenwashing is a superficial nod to the environment that marketers and businesses that historically were not interested in sustainable concerns, are doing in order to improve their public relation standings with the consumer or public. Analogous to brainwashing. Don't be fooled by dishonest companies employing greenwashing techniques. Combatting greenwashing was one of the reasons Re:modern put together this Sustainable Modern Glossary of Terms as a tool for consumers to be educated about their purchases. Do your homework and let us know if there are any terms we should add to this Glossary.

Going Green: A phrase referring to individual action that a person can consciously take to curb harmful effects on the environment through consumer habits, behavior, and lifestyle.


Handmade: Usually a one of a kind, hand-crafted product that is made without the use of machines and is not mass produced. The cost of handmade goods are often higher than machine-made versions if artisans are paid a fair wage and have pride in their craft.
Haute Green: An annual contemporary design event in New York that showcases sustainable modern design.

Holistic Medicine: Holistic medicine is a broadly descriptive term for a healing philosophy that views a patient as a whole person, not as just a disease or a collection of symptoms. In the course of treatment, holistic medical practitioners may address a client's emotional and spiritual dimensions as well as the nutritional, environmental, and lifestyle factors that may contribute to an illness. Many holistic medical practitioners combine conventional forms of treatment (such as medication and surgery) with natural or alternative treatments.

Homeopathy: Homeopathy is a medical system that uses infinitesimal doses of natural substances--called remedies--to stimulate a person's immune and defense system. A remedy is individually chosen for a sick person based on its capacity to cause, if given in overdose, physical and psychological symptoms similar to those a patient is experiencing. Common conditions homeopathy addresses are infant and childhood diseases, infections, fatigue, allergies, and chronic illnesses such as arthritis.

Hybrid: A car that runs on both electric battery and fuel, making the gas mileage extremely efficient and also produces fewer emissions which help control pollution in the environment.





LEED: Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design. A leading certification process by the U.S. Green Building Council that evaluates new buildings constructed to common green standards.

Low Energy/High Performance: Built environments designed to use as little energy as possible and minimal or no fossil fuel.

Low-VOC: A term referring to reduced amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in paint and finishes. Low-VOC paints do not off-gas as much as conventional paints and contain less toxins that are harmful to the environment.


Massage Therapy: This is a general term for a range of therapeutic approaches with roots in both Eastern and Western cultures. It involves the practice of kneading or otherwise manipulating a person's muscles and other soft tissue with the intent of improving a person's well-being or health.

Meditation Teachers/Centers: Meditation is a general term for a wide range of practices that involve training one's attention or awareness so that body and mind can be brought into greater harmony. While some meditators may seek a mystical sense of oneness with a higher power or with the universe, others may seek to reduce stress or alleviate stress-related ailments such as anxiety and high blood pressure. Listings in this category include individual counselors as well as meditation centers and retreat centers.

Midwifery/Childbirth Support: Midwives provide education and support during pregnancy, assist the mother during labor and delivery, and provide follow-up care. Practitioners of childbirth support include childbirth educators, childbirth assistants, and doulas (women labor coaches who also provide postpartum home care). In some states midwives can attend home births or practice in birthing clinics in hospitals. Some midwives are also licensed to provide "well-women" gynecological care, including screening tests and birth control.

Multi-functional: Something that serves more than one purpose. In product and furniture design, multi-functional pieces reduce the need for multiple products, thus using less raw resources and reducing clutter in modern homes.


Natural: A product that is made from materials and ingredients found in nature, with little or no human intervention. For example, wood is a natural material while plastic is not.
Non-toxic: Something that is not toxic or poisonous.


One Percent for the Planet: An organization consisting of businesses that pledge to give at least 1% of their total annual revenues to charities and organizations that help the natural environment.

Organic: Of or relating to a product that is solely made from plants or insects. Organic materials and products often carry certifications according to industry.


Pollution Prevention: Reducing the amount of energy, materials, packaging, or water in the design, manufacturing, or purchasing of products or materials in an effort to increase efficient use of resources, reduce toxicity, and eliminate waste.

Post-consumer: Refers to recycled material that was used first by a consumer. A high post-consumer content helps divert materials from ending up in landfills.

Pre-consumer: Refers to recycled material that came from the manufacturing process. Pre-consumer recycling of scraps and discards diverts waste that may otherwise end up in landfills, and reduces use of raw materials.


Qi Gong (Chi-Kung): Qi gong (also referred to as chi-kung) is an ancient Chinese exercise system that aims to stimulate and balance the flow of qi (chi), or vital energy, along the acu-puncture meridians, or energy pathways. Qi gong is used to reduce stress, improve blood circulation, enhance immune function, and treat a variety of health conditions.


Recyclable: A product or material that can be converted back into material that can be used again in manufacturing new goods. Typically, recycleable materials (aluminum, steel, paper, etc.) must remain in their pure form. If too many adhesives are used, or a product is made from a composite, those materials may not be separated at the end of its life-cycle for recycling.

Recycled: To use again or reprocess.
Reflexology: Reflexology is based on the idea that specific points on the feet and hands correspond with organs and tissues throughout the body. With fingers and thumbs, the practitioner applies pressure to these points to treat a wide range of stress-related illnesses and ailments.

Remodernist: A Modernist who believes that social and environmental issues must also be considerations in future-forward thinking, in addition to form and function.

Renewable Energy: Energy harvested from sources that are not depleted when used, typically causing very low environmental impact. Examples include solar energy, hydroelectric power, and wind power.

Remanufacturing: A recycled concept by which an existing product can have its useful life extended through a secondary manufacturing or refurbishing process such as remanufactured systems furniture.

Re:modern: A design company committed to design integrity. Re:modern is a leading retailer of sustainable modern home furnishings, gifts, and accessories.

Renewable: A raw material that can be replenished within a reasonable amount of time. Example, bamboo and sustainably-harvested woods are renewable. Gold and precious stones are not renewable.

Repurpose: Taking a thing or a material and using it for a purpose not originally intended. Repurposed goods often have a lot of inherent character, flair, and style.

Re-use: To use again, whether for the same purpose or reappropriated for another.

Rolfing®: Developed by biochemist Ida P. Rolf, this technique uses deep manipulation of the fascia (connective tissue) to restore the body's natural alignment, which may have become rigid through injury, emotional trauma, and inefficient movement habits. The process involves ten sessions, each focusing on a different part of the body.

Rugmark: A foundation that is seeking to end child labor and provide educational opportunities for children.


Shiatsu: The most widely known form of acupressure, shiatsu has been used in Japan for more than 1,000 years to treat pain and illness and for general health maintenance. Using a series of techniques, practitioners apply rhythmic finger pressure at specific points on the body in order to stimulate chi, or vital energy.

Sustainable: Actions and products that meet current needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet theirs. Sustainability is a broad term and often refers to the desire to provide the best outcomes for the human and natural environments both now and into the indefinite future.

Sustainably-harvested: A renewable resource that as been harvested in a way that allows it's inherent regeneration and continued ongoing supply.

Small Business: A company that employs under 100 people and is usually a privately owned corporation. Small businesses fuel local economic growth and innovation.


Tai Chi/Martial Arts: The martial arts are perhaps best known as means of self-defense, but they are also used to improve physical fitness and promote mental and spiritual development. The highly disciplined movements and forms are thought to unite body and mind and bring balance to the individual's life. "External" methods (such as karate and judo) stress endurance and muscular strength, while "internal" methods (such as tai chi and aikido) stress relaxation and control. Tai chi has been used as part of treatment for back problems, ulcers, and stress.



VOC: Volatile organic compounds. VOC's are toxins commonly found in conventional paints, sealers, and finishes. VOC's off-gas into the air and are not good to people or to the environment.


Waste Reduction: A process to reduce or eliminate that amount of waste generated at its source or to reduce the amount of toxicity from waste or the reuse of materials. The creation of waste is a growing problem on the environment, as landfills get filled and toxins leach back into the ground. The best way to reduce waste is not to create it in the first place.

Watsu (Water Shiatsu): Watsu, or water shiatsu, is a form of massage performed in chest-high body-temperature water. The practitioner guides the client through a series of dance like movements while using Zen shiatsu techniques (stretches and finger pressure) in order to release blockages in the body's meridians, or energy pathways. Watsu is used to release tension and to treat a wide variety of physical and emotional problems.

Wastewater: Water that has been used and contaminated. Wastewater must be purified before being used again or before being returned to the environment.



Yoga Therapy: Yoga therapy is an emerging field of practices that use
yoga to address mental and physical problems while integrating body and mind. Practitioners work one-on-one or in group settings, assisting clients with yoga postures, sometimes combined with therapeutic verbal dialogue.


Zero-VOC: A term used to indicate paint containing no volatile organic compounds - a healthier alternative to conventional paints.


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