Glossary of sustainable development

Healthy food

Foods that provide the nutrients that our body needs to function properly. This includes organic food, i.e., food that is sold in its natural form without chemicals or synthetic pesticides, respecting the ecosystem, nature and humans.

Shorter food transport

Distribution of food via one intermediary at most, between the producer and the consumer. Shorter transport not only provides better remuneration for the producer, but also results in better product since the geographical proximity reduces the food transport and corresponding footprint, which is better for the environment but also for the quality of the product, and maintains direct links with the producer.

Social cohesion

Social cohesion is about the nature of our social relations as well as their intensity. Its principle is based on elements such as solidarity, friendliness, respect and trust.


This term is a contraction of the words “consume” and “actor”, and refers to a person who buys things in a responsible way, considering where the products come from (local products), the production process (organic or traditional), as well as the working conditions of the employees (local recruitment, fair and equitable remuneration, etc.). She or he chooses to consume in a more civic and civilized way and no longer only in a purely consumerist way.

Sustainable/eco-responsible consumption

Sustainable or eco-responsible consumption represents a life choice that is about consuming goods or services that take into account the principles of respect towards the environment, as well as for social and local economy. The principles supporting sustainable consumption are:

  • the principle of utility (avoiding purchases or services that are not really needed, to fight against over-consumption and the exhaustion of natural resources);
  • the principle of prevention (opting for goods and services that have as little harmful effect on the environment, health and any other domain as is possible);
  • the principle of efficiency (taking into account the means employed to produce and deliver an item or service to the market, and favoring those that best respect preservation of natural resources, energy and decent working conditions);
  • the principle of quality (preferring products with longer life spans, i.e., those that, over the long term, use fewer natural resources and energy for their production, and also generate less waste);
  • the principle of solidarity (promoting trade routes that connect the buyer, distributer and producer, in order to equitably share prosperity among all).


Waste refers to any material, substance or product that has been thrown away or abandoned, because of no further use, or felt to be of no more use.

Sustainable development

Form of economic development, which aims to reconcile economic, social and environmental aspects. It aims to meet the needs of current consumers, without compromising the capacity of future generations to meet theirs. It is based on a long-term vision and aims in particular, to preserve and favor the environment, to develop a more efficient economy, as well as a fairer society.

Do It Yourself (DIY)

Originally related to make home improvements by oneself, DIY now refers to any activity in which we take part as an actor and not just a spectator or a consumer. The principle is based on values such as participation and exchange of knowledge. It can involve handicrafts, self-publishing a book, re-use of the waste, and many more.

Ecological citizenship

This concept relates to the need for citizens to take action by adopting habits such as responsible behavior towards the environment and other people. Ecological citizens are aware of their rights and duties, as well as their direct ecological impact on the environment.

Circular economy

The so-called circular economy corresponds to an economic model that is characterized by, not only the recovery or recycling of waste, but also by an efficient use of resources, for both extraction of the material and production. It therefore limits the use of non-renewable resources.

Social and Solidarity Economy (SSE)

This represents all structures (associations, cooperatives and foundations) organized according to the values of freedom, solidarity and democracy. Sustainable development and fair trade tend to form part of the strategic core of this type of structures.


Behavior, activity or quality (trait) of a person or organization, taking into account the principles of respect for the environment, the social dimensions and the promotion of the local economy, in the long term.


An ecosystem is composed of all the living beings and their environment. These two elements interact with each other and help maintain the development of life. Their actions also impact on the equilibrium of the ecosystem.

Primary and secondary packaging

Primary packaging is the material envelope in direct contact with the product, often made of a thin synthetic plastic film. Secondary packaging is the box or other packaging, which surrounds the inner filmed product. It has a physical role, helping to group the products into units of purchase, but also provides a surface on which information and notices are printed – this is what the consumer sees when buying the product in store.

Ecological footprint

This is a way of measuring the impact of our human activities on the natural environment. Expressed in hectares (ha) per person and per year, the ecological footprint is a tool to evaluate the energy (or land) required to produce all that a person or a population uses in terms of food, housing, travels, etc., as well as to absorb the waste that we all produce.

Calculation of the ecological footprint can also be seen in the production of consumer goods such as manufacturing a car, a computer or a piece of furniture, in order to raise awareness of the impact of their production on our ecosystem.


“First in, first out” is a principle of stock management that defines that the items that reached the stock earlier are taken out first. This principle is also being used for bulk distribution containers, to preserve the freshness of products.

Freedom of choice without marketing influence

When a “consum’actor” affirms that their purchase choice is made without the influence of anyone or any image or advertisement. Their choice is based on their own criteria.

Collective negotiation

The practice of collective negotiation involves the inclusion of all the stakeholders of a given organization. It allows the defining of rules and agreements, which take into account the needs of each stakeholder.

Fair price

A fair price should not only cover the cost of the new materials, the production process and the time taken to produce it, but also the social and environmental costs. It should also ensure a profit, which can, for example, be paid in cash to the producer, or be assigned to the group, for ecological improvement, an associative organization or another cause that promotes these values.

Local products

Local products are those that are produced and transformed in a restricted geographical area. They are consumed as close as possible to the production site. However, the distance is not defined since the notion of geographical proximity can vary according to the geographical characteristics of a given territory (extent, topography, etc.). In England it is more or less confined to a radius of approximately 160 km. In Switzerland, given the relatively small size of the country, anything produced in the country can be considered as a local product.

Sustainable production

The concept of sustainable or responsible production respects environmental, social and economic aspects in the long term. This involves, for instance, optimizing the use of resources and taking into account the life cycle of the product and its means of production.

Seasonal products

A seasonal product is one that is consumed when it naturally matures where it is produced i.e., in season. It therefore respects the natural growth cycle of plants, without it being accelerated, by heated or hot greenhouses for vegetables, for example.

Specialized products

Specific products that are consumed due to food intolerances, allergies or ethical reasons, and are therefore labeled as gluten-free, lactose-free, vegan or vegetarian products.

Voluntary simplicity

Voluntary simplicity or “happy sobriety” is a life choice to voluntarily reduce the consumption of goods and services, with the aim of reducing the negative impact that results from their use or production. Voluntary simplicity originates from the will of an individual or an organization to defend certain community or ecological values.

Food sovereignty (Right to…)

This is the right of people to have healthy and culturally appropriate food, produced through socially fair methods, which respect the environment. A society which maintains agricultural diversity preserves greater choice in its food. It favors local employment and protection of landscape. It also ensures better food safety as local production facilitates the traceability of the products.

Products traceability

Surveillance of the production methods and the transport of food products from producer right to the consumer.


This word originally comes from the physical science (and the Latin transparere meaning “allowing through”). The notion of transparency has gradually spread to all areas of human activity. For the environmentally aware, it is a pledge of trust between all our contacts, and underlines the importance of fully informing them about our operations and practices as well.


In this context, quality is about a product being recognized for its freshness, production process (untransformed, without chemical pesticides or fertilizers), with its nutritional values preserved, made and/or produced in an exemplary manner (in terms of the use of raw material, manufacturing process, its environmental impact, storage conditions).

QR code

QR code is a type of two-dimensional barcode consisting of black modules on a white square background that is readable by smartphones. Its advantage is that it can store a vast amount of information and especially data that can be directly identified by applications, allowing us to navigate to a website, watch a video online, make a direct payment, etc.

Selling in bulk

Selling consumer products without packaging. The customer is encouraged to bring their own shopping bag or container, to limit the generation of waste and to buy only the quantity needed, no more.


This term is used to describe the action of collecting items that are at the end of their natural life, with the aim of giving them value once again through transformation into something new and once again useful. This concept makes it possible to produce unique high quality goods that meet different needs.

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