Glossary

Alternative Energy
Energy derived from sources other than traditional non-renewable sources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas. Alternative energy typically refers to energy from renewable sources that do not harm the environment, such as solar or wind.
BPA – Bisphenol A
This estrogen-like substance is a key ingredient in protective coatings on metal food packaging and containers, such as soup cans, and a key component in polycarbonate plastic. Some studies suggest BPA may be harmful even at extremely low doses, increasing the risk of breast, ovarian and prostate cancer. Studies also have implicated BPA in reproductive, memory and learning disorders; cancer; obesity; and hyperactivity.
BSE – Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy
Commonly called Mad Cow Disease, BSE is a fatal disease of cattle that affects the central nervous system and is transmitted to humans through infected animal protein in livestock feed.
BTU – British Thermal Unit
A BTU is a unit of heat that equals the amount of heat required to raise one pound of water one degree Fahrenheit at one atmosphere pressure.
Biodegradable
A material which can be naturally broken down into organic components.
Biodiesel
An alternative to petroleum diesel, biodiesel is made from primarily biodegradable and renewable resources (vegetables oil, animal fat). It can be used as fuel in diesel engines and in boilers and furnaces designed to use heating oils, or in oil-fueled lighting equipment.
Biofuel
Biofuels are solid, liquid or gaseous fuels obtained from recently lifeless or living biological material. In contrast, fossil fuels are derived from biological material that has been long-dead.
Biomass Fuel
This renewable fuel is derived from a living organism or the by-product of one. Biomass fuels include wood, animal dung, methane gas, and grain alcohol.
CCF – Centum Cubic Feet
This abbreviation stands for 100 cubic feet but is also equal to 784 gallons. This measurement is used in the billing of natural gas and water delivered to households.
CFCs – Chlorofluorocarbons or Chlorinated Fluorocarbons
CFCs refers to a family of man-made chemicals tied to ozone depletion. They are commonly used in solvents and refrigerants.
CFL – Compact Fluorescent Light
CFL refers to a type of light bulb that uses about 25% of the energy used by an incandescent bulb uses yet gives off the same amount of light and lasting up to 10 times longer. There are several CFL options when it comes to color, lighting quality, shape, and wattages. CFLs are designed to easily replace incandescent bulbs in the same lighting fixtures.
Cage Free
Cage free typically refers to poultry (chickens, turkeys) that are permitted to roam freely within the farmyard and only kept in sheds or hen houses at night.
Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
This is an effort to protect consumers and workers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems, and to replace them with safer alternatives. The campaign was started by a coalition of groups including the Breast Cancer Fund and the Environmental Working Group. In May 2007 PCC became the first retailer to endorse the Campaign, renewing its commitment to work with its manufacturers to make certain that all cosmetics and personal care products sold are free of chemicals known or strongly suspected of causing cancer, mutation, or birth defects.
Carbon Dioxide
The principal greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide is a colorless, odorless, non-combustible gas with one carbon and two oxygen atoms (CO2) present in the the atmosphere. It is produced when any substance containing carbon is burned and is also a product of breathing and fermentation. CO2 can be removed from the atmosphere through ocean absorption and photosynthesis.
Carbon Footprint
Carbon footprint refers to the total GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions caused by an individual, organization, event or product.
Carbon Offset
This term refers to the alleviation of carbon emissions through the development of projects that produce alternative forms of energy, such as solar or wind, or support reforestation.
Cedar Grove Composting
The Northwest's leading organic recycler, Cedar Grove transforms food, yard and wood waste into compost. Under a City of Seattle ordinance (applicable to five PCC locations) that requires food service businesses to find either compostable or recyclable packaging alternatives to throw-away food service containers and other products by July 2010, it is specified that compostable items must be approved by Cedar Grove to comply.
Certified Organic Retailer
A certified organic retailer, such as PCC, has procedures in place that ensure the integrity of organic products from the farm to the shopping cart. To qualify as a certified organic retailer, there must be a third-party independent paper trail showing the USDA Organic Rules have been followed in the way organic products are handled, stored and sold. All PCC stores are routinely monitored by the WSDA (Washington State Department of Agriculture) to ensure compliance.
Clean Wood
Wood that has not been painted or treated and can be reused or recycled.
Climate change
Attributed to the the greenhouse gas effect, climate change refers to changes in weather patterns of a region over time.
Cloning
The cloning process creates an genetic copy of an organism. The FDA has ruled that products from cloned animals and their offspring are safe for human consumption. PCC believes that the FDA has failed to address several concerns about animal cloning and requires producers to submit a signed agreement that products sold to PCC do not — and will not — contain ingredients from cloned animals or their offspring.
Compost
Compost is the product created from the decomposition of organic waste under controlled conditions. Compost is commonly used as a soil amendment for gardens and landscaping.
COOL – Country of Origin Labeling
The federally mandated COOL regulations, implemented in early 2009, require country of origin labeling for muscle cuts and ground beef (including veal), pork, lamb, goat, and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, and ginseng sold by retailers. PCC supported COOL legislation for years and voluntarily complied with COOL standards long before they were mandatory.
Ecology
Ecology is the study of living organisms and their interactions with their environment.
Ecosystem
A community of organisms (plant, animal and other living organisms) that functions as a unit with their environment.
Energy Star Rating
Energy Star is a voluntary labeling program of the EPA (US Environmental Protection Agency and the DOE (US Department of Energy) that identifies energy efficient products. Qualified products must exceed federal standards for minimum energy consumption, or have certain energy saving features. Products that meet Energy Star requirements typically display an Energy Star label.
Ethanol
An alcohol-based alternative fuel, ethanol is produced from the fermentation and distillation of starchy crops such as corn, sugar beets, barley, and wheat. It is most commonly added to gasoline to increase octane and improve emissions quality.
FDA – U.S. Food and Drug Administration
A federal agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the FDA is responsible for ensuring the safety of food, medications, cosmetics and several medical products.
FTSLA – Food Trade Sustainability Leadership Association
FTSLA is a diverse group of companies committed to advancing environmental and social responsibility in the organic industry. Incorporated in 2008, PCC was a founding member of FTSLA and actively promotes and supports its mission.
GHGs – Greenhouse gases
GHGs are gases which absorb thermal infra-red radiation emitted by the Earth’s surface, the atmosphere and clouds, and directly impact the Earth's temperature. The primary GHG's are water vapor, carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide and ozone.
GMOs – Genetically Modified Organisms
GMOs are organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally. Selected individual genes are transferred from one organism into another using "genetic engineering" technology. Gene transfer can also take place between non-related species. Organic standards prohibit the use of genetically modified organisms in the production of organic products. In the U.S. manufacturers are not required to disclose the us of GMO ingredients in their products.
Global Warming
Global warming is the rise in temperature of the Earth's climate attributed to the increase in greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, etc.) which trap heat emitted by the Earth's surface, atmosphere and clouds.
Green Building
Green building is the practice of increasing the efficiency with which buildings and their sites use and harvest energy, water, and materials, and reducing building impacts on human health and the environment, through better site selection, design, construction, operation, maintenance, and removal.
Green Power
Electricity generated from renewable sources such as solar energy, wind power, geothermal power, biomass, and small hydroelectric sources is collectively referred to a green power. Residential and commercial green power programs are offered by local power utilities. Within PCC's market area those utilities include Seattle City Light, Puget Sound Energy and Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1.
Green Tags
See "RECs – Renewable Energy Certificates"
Greenhouse Effect
The trapping and build-up of heat in the atmosphere near the Earth's surface is called the greenhouse effect. Heat flowing back toward space from the Earth's surface is absorbed by GHGs (greenhouse gases) in the atmosphere, such as water vapor and carbon dioxide, and then reflected back toward the Earth's surface. Increases in GHG concentrations gradually increase the average temperature of the lower atmosphere.
HDPE – High Density Polyethylene
This plastic (designated by the number "2") is commonly used in milk, water, shampoo and motor oil bottles.
kW – Kilowatt
One thousand (1,000) watts, this unit of measurement is used to communicate the amount of electricity needed to operate something.
kWh – Kilowatt Hour
A unit of measurement used to express the amount of electricity needed to operate something over one hour.
LDPE – Low Density Polyethylene
This plastic (designated by the number "4") is commonly used for plastic bags, plastic wrap and plastic films.
LEDs – Light Emitting Diodes
LEDs are an efficient lighting option that create light without releasing heat, are more efficient, last longer than compact fluorescent lights, and don’t contain mercury. LEDs are most commonly used for accent or outdoor lighting but LED light bulbs for household lighting are becoming more available.
LEED – Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
LEED® is a voluntary third party rating system administered by the U.S. Green Building Council where credits are earned for satisfying specified green building criteria. Projects are evaluated within six environmental categories: Sustainable Sites, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design. Certified, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels of green building certification are awarded based on the total credits earned. The LEED standard has been adopted nationwide by federal agencies, state and local governments, and interested private companies as the industry standard of measurement for green building.
Lumen
A lumen is a measure of the amount of light available from a light source equivalent to the light emitted by one candle.
Methane (CH4)
A light hydrocarbon that is the main component of natural gas, methane is a colorless, odorless, non-toxic and highly flammable gas produced from the anaerobic decomposition of organic matter. It is one of the primary greenhouse gases.
NOP – National Organic Program
The NOP develops, implements, and administers national production, handling, and labeling standards for organic agricultural products. It also accredits the certifying agents (foreign and domestic) who inspect organic production and handling operations to certify that they meet USDA standards.
Natural Gas
Burned to produce heat and electricity, natural gas is a fossil fuel found in the earth that contains methane, butane, propane and other gases.
Nitrous oxide
A major greenhouse gas and pollutant, nitrous oxide (also known as "laughing gas") is (at room temperature) a non-flammable, colorless gas used during dental and medical procedures because of its anesthetic qualities.
NPA Natural Standard
This defines the term "natural" as it applies to ingredients in personal care products, including natural skin and hair care products. In January 2009 PCC announced that all vendors and manufacturers of personal care products must comply with ingredient criteria as defined by this standard.
Ozone
A form of oxygen, ozone is a poisonous gas but also beneficial in that the ozone layer in the earth's upper atmosphere shields life on earth from deadly ultraviolet radiation from space.
Ozone Holes
Ozone holes are gaps in the ozone layer caused by petroleum-based chemicals (emitted from paints, solvents, pesticides, gasoline and other substances) that vaporize directly into the atmosphere. These gaps can allow harmful sun rays to reach the earth's surface.
Ozone Layer
The ozone layer is a concentration of ozone (at about 20 miles above the earth's surface) that blocks most of the harmful ultraviolet light radiated from the sun.
PC – Polycarbonate
This plastic (designated by the number "7") is used in the manufacture of many food containers and utensils because it is strong, light weight and resistant to heat. Bisphenol A (BPA), however, is a key component and has been linked with serious health risks.
PCBs – Polychloronated Biphenyls
PCBs are organic compounds used in plastics manufacturing. These compounds accumulate and persist in the environment for long periods of time and are particularly toxic to aquatic life.
PET – Polyethylene Terephthalate
This plastic (designated by the number "1") is commonly used in soft drinks and medicine bottles.
PHS – Polyvinyl Chloride
This plastic (designated by the number "3") is commonly used for commercial signage, building materials and meat wrap.
PLA – Polyactic Acid
This polymer made from the carbon found in simple plant sugars (typically derived from corn) is used in the manufacturer of compostable food service items. It is sold under the brand name Ingeo.
PP – Polypropylene
This plastic (designated by the number "5") is commonly used for syrup bottles, yogurt tubs and reusable bottles.
PS – Polystyrene
This plastic (designated by the number "6") is commonly used for coffee cups, take-out containers and reusable consumer products.
PV – Photovoltaic Panel
PV panels are composed of cells that contain a semi-conducting material, usually silicon, that absorbs light energy from the sun and converts it into electricity.
Pathogen
A pathogen is a disease-causing organism such as a virus or bacterium.
Polycarbonate
See "PC"
Post-Consumer Waste
Post consumer waste is a type of waste collected after a consumer has used it for the purpose it was originally intended. It is then reused in the manufacture of a new product.
Pre-Consumer Waste
Pre-consumer waste refers to materials generated in manufacturing and converting processes that never reach consumers, such as wood scrap, trimmings, and cuttings.
rBGH – recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone
rBGH is the generic term for a genetically engineered, synthetic drug produced by the Monsanto Corporation; (also referred to as recombinant Bovine Somatotropin, or rBST). rBGH is injected into dairy cows to increase milk production by 5 to 15 percent. Approved by the FDA, it is banned in Canada, Japan, Australia and all 25 countries of the European Union.
RECs – Renewable Energy Certificates
Also known as Green tags, Renewable Energy Credits, Renewable Electricity Certificates, or Tradable Renewable Certificates (TRCs), RECs are sellable and tradable certificates that represent the production of 1 megawatt-hour (MWh) of electricity from a renewable energy source (typically, hydro, wind or solar). The clean energy is added to the power grid; an accompanying REC is sold and the buyer can claim to have purchased renewable energy. Through the purchase of RECs consumers and companies can offset their consumption of electricity and support additional clean energy production. Most public utilities offer some type of "Green Power" program that involves RECs.
SalmonSafe
This label on PCC produce or a bottle of wine means that practices that help keep Northwest rivers healthy enough for native salmon to spawn and thrive were used in creating that product. Farms, vineyards, and even urban locations where streams, wetlands or stormwater runoff are present, can earn SalmonSafe certification.
Seafood Watch Program
A program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Seafood Watch helps consumers and businesses make seafood choices that help protect the health of our oceans. Recommendations are science-based, peer reviewed and use ecosystem-based criteria. Through pocket guides and other forms of communication consumers are advised of seafood recommendations in terms of "Best Choices," "Good Alternatives," and "Avoid." Most of the seafood sold by PCC is rated "Green, a Best Choice." A limited amount of PCC's seafood is rated "Yellow, a Good Alternative." Seafood rated as being in the Red, meaning fish to avoid, never is found at PCC.
Seattle Climate Partnership
A voluntary agreement among more than 150 Seattle-area employers, including PCC Natural Markets, to take action to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.
Sustainable Seafood
Seafood from sources — whether fished or farmed — that can exist for the long-term, without compromising the species' survival or the integrity of surrounding ecosystems is sustainable.
Trans fat
Trans-fats (also known as trans-fatty acids) are primarily man-made fats created when vegetable oils undergo a process called hydrogenation. Hydrogen gas is bubbled through the oil, causing the oil molecules to become saturated artificially with hydrogen and therefore resistant to oxidation, which causes rancidity. The process converts unsaturated, less stable fatty acids into a shelf stable fat. Trans-fats do not contribute any nutritional value to the diet and have been linked to several serious health risks.
TPO – Thermal Plastic Olefin
This refers to the type of roof covering installed at the Edmonds PCC. It is basically a vinyl sheet heat-welded to roof (like a swim cap) that creates a reflective surface that reduces heat gain in the store and helps keep roof run-off water cleaner.
VOCs – Volatile Organic Compounds
VOCs are organic chemicals emitted as gases from certain solids and liquids and may be harmful or toxic. They are present in thousands of products including paints and lacquers, paint strippers, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings, office equipment, glues and adhesives, permanent markers, and photographic solutions.

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If you want to see an endangered species, get up and look in the mirror. — John Young, former Apollo astronaut
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I think the environment should be put in the category of our national security. Defense of our resources is just as important as defense abroad. Otherwise what is there to defend? — Robert Redford

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Diana Chapman
Director of Sustainability