Ecomedia Letter: s


The buildup of saline properties in soil, making the soil unsuitable for plant growth. It is often aggravated by irrigation.

Salvage Material

Materials that have been recovered from other buildings, such as windows, doors, light fitting and other building features that are used again. It is a great environmentally friendly way to get a retro look in a new space.


A fabric made from Japanese paper that is finely cut and spun into fibers to produce fabric.

Save Money

Green doesn't have to cost more-in fact by aiming to use less, and buying better quality that lasts longer, you will nearly always save resources as well as money!


Schools are places of learning and great places to start grassroots changes in attitudes and behavior toward the environment. Young people often have huge influence over their families. Schools also take in a lot of resources and energy to run, and are great places to reduce, reuse and recycle.


The study of things in a clear and testable method. Science is a huge base of knowledge and a way to approach testing new ideas.

Sea Level Rise

The rise in sea levels around the world in relation to the land, due to increases in global temperature caused by human activities. The melting of the ice caps in the Arctic and Antarctic and on ice sheets and glaciers globally, has the potential to dump huge amounts of water into the ocean and raise sea level. Also see Climate Refugees.

Sea Shepherd

An international non profit organization that aims to conserve the species and ecosystems of the world's oceans. It works globally to raise awareness as well as enforcing laws to do with conservation in the ocean.


A type of underwater grass that is an important underwater habitat and feeding ground for animals such as dugongs, sea turtles and fish. Seagrass acts as a carbon store in the ocean. Seagrass is sometimes harvested and used to make baskets and furniture.


The capture of carbon dioxide or other greenhouse gases in some manner. The aim of sequestration is to take those gases out of the atmosphere and therefore eliminate those gases in the greenhouse effect. It is done naturally by plants, but geological sequestration is manmade and is already done in some mines where gas is pumped back underground. Large scale sequestration is seen as a potential aid in fighting global warming.

Seventh Generation Principle

A principle that is from the Iroquois (a group of indigenous North Americans) that states we should think about how our actions will affect the future seven generations.

Severe Weather

Unusual amounts of precipitation, storms, heat waves and droughts. Many are expected to increase in frequency, intensity or duration with climate change.

Shark Finning

The practice of hunting sharks specifically for their fins. The fins are primarily in demand in China and Asia in shark fin soup. Shark fininng is an extremely poorly regulated industry with corruption in governments and poor international laws, leading to extreme amounts of sharks being caught all over the world. Sharks are often caught and finned alive, then thrown back into the ocean still alive to die. Sharks are also essential to the ocean's food web and the removal of sharks has huge unforeseen consequences down the line.


Shipping of goods is a major source of pollution around the world. Ships in international waters have far less laws to abide by than many within territorial waters of countries. Shipping produces physical rubbish, noise pollution and air pollution, which can become a particular problem where ships are gathered in ports. Filling ballast waters in one part of the world and emptying them in another place thousands of kilometers away may introduce species from one area to another causing an invasive species problem.

Sick Building Syndrome

Getting sick from the building where you live or work. It is caused by materials in the building giving off fumes or biological agents such as mold, so fling open those windows, get some fresh air and go for a stroll when you're feeling sluggish because maybe it is the simple act of being inside which is contributing to you feeling bad.


It has been made in Asia for centuries from the cocoons of silk worms. Silk is a remarkable natural, strong and soft product. The use of silk has long been associated with the fine and delicate but new uses are constantly being bulletproof vests are protecting some police officers!


A natural, durable and strong fiber from plants used to make rope and rugs. It is renewable and fully biodegradable.


The questioning and disbelieving of something. Skepticism is essential to science as it ensures that claims made can be reached by anyone carrying out the same experiment. Skepticism is also important to environmentalists to ensure the reasoning behind taking actions to reduce humans' impact on the earth is sound. Howeve,r skepticism is often loved by the media to present "both sides" of a story in environmental topics even when the vast majority of science is behind a theory, such as climate change.

Slash and Burn

The practice of cutting down forest (particularly rainforest) and burning off the vegetation to clear land for farming or ranching. This practice is particularly destructive as soils from the rainforest quickly lose their nutrients after a few years and become unsuitable for the purpose they were cleared. More forest must be slashed and burned to gain more land and soil to farm to keep up the same rate of farming.

Slow Food

A movement started in the 1980's to promote eating the food that is regionally natural to your area. It makes sense for the environment as it promotes local species and ecosystems to flourish and reduces the need for food transport, so check out what is in season. I'm sure your taste buds will thank you!

Smart Grid

A enhanced version of the utility grids that exist in most major cities which also allows increased detailed information on how utilities are used, energy efficiency and the feeding back of utilities such as electricity back to the grid.


A combination of air pollutants and fog.

Social Responsibility

When a business, government or organization considers the best interest of society in general as well as in its own operations.

Soil Health

Soil health relates to properties of soil such as structure, nutrient content, moisture, pH and micro bacterial activity. Soil health is actually connected to our health in a roundabout way. Healthy soil means healthy food for us for generations to come.

Solar Energy

Energy from sunlight. Solar energy uses technology to convert solar radiation into electricity or to physically heat something such as water or a solar oven. Solar energy is a from of sustainable and renewable energy as it is largely nonpolluting and is from a constant ever-renewing source. Also see Photovoltaic Panels.

Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC)

This refers to the amount of solar radiation allowed through a window. If you're building new or replacing your windows, it is something to consider, as it should reduce the need to cool your building in summer and heat it in winter.

Solar Hot Water

Water that is heated by the sun for a home, building or swimming pool. It is very practical in warm and hot climates to use solar hot water to save energy.

Solar Thermal Energy

A way of harnessing solar energy for electricity, water heating, cooking or even distillation of water. It in effect uses the heat generated by sunlight to power various technologies that convert the heat to practical use.


Product from the Soybean plant. The plant can produce vegetable oil as well as high protein foodstuff, which is used to feed animals as well as people. Soy is a crop that is booming in popularity, due to its high protein nature and its potential to produce oil, protein and flour.


Take a look at pictures of our planet taken from space and we get an idea of how alone in this universe we are. We may have sent a dog, a monkey and people into space but we haven't found a replacement earth yet-so we better take of this one!

Spaceship Earth

A way of looking at earth as a place with limited resources and options available to its passengers (us). It follows that it is up to us to maintain what resources we need and use on this planet as we as humans are alone in space. Also see Gaia Hypothesis.

Spontaneous Combustion

Some material suddenly burst into flames without a spark-what does this have to do with environment? Well, spontaneous combustion is why any food or organic material in paper recycling is a bad thing. In hot weather, a banana peel or pizza slice in a bale of paper waiting to be recycled may actually release chemicals when breaking down and cause spontaneous combustion and massive dangerous fires, so keep that paper recycling just paper!

Square Foot Gardening

A way of intensively utilizing gardening space in a grid pattern to allow ease of access, flexibility, productivity and efficiency. It is a way of planning out gardening so that gardens can be utilized for a variety of plants such as vegetables and is common for community type gardens.


The idea that we as humans have a responsibility to look after and manage the earth and its environments. The motivation for this stewardship may be for ourselves, for equity in this generation, for future generations, for the fact we seem to be the only animals with the ability to do so, or just because it feels "right".

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)

Combined with rain, sulfur dioxide produces acid rain-nasty rain that eats away at buildings and causes havoc in the environment. It is naturally spewed by volcanoes, but is widely produced by burning of fossil fuels such as coal and oil.


The ability to sustain something over time. In the environmental context, it refers to the ability for a process or development to be classified as sustainable development. Also see Sustainable Development.

Sustainable Agriculture

Agriculture practices that aim to be sustainable over time on environmental, social and economic fronts. It involves practices that take into account long term soil health and biodiversity.

Sustainable Community

Communities that aim to be self sufficient and can provide for their own needs and services, and deal with their own wastes. Sustainable communities are great to learn from about how to do things on a local scale to help the environment.

Sustainable Development

An idea that development will only be sustainable long term if it meets a few criteria including, inter-generational equity, intra-generational equity, the precautionary principle, preservation of biodiversity, the polluter pays principle, and setting up human activity so it fits in with the natural cycles of the planet.

Sustainable Gardening

Gardening that aims to be sustainable over the long term. Also see Sustainable Development.

Sustainable Wine

Wine grown and produced by wineries that aim to be sustainable and put priorities such as long term soil health and irrigation into practice. Enjoying a glass of sustainable wine is certainly a great environmentally friendly way to kick off your shoes and relax!

Sustainable Yield

The amount which can be harvested annually without risking the sustainability of the resource. For example a forest could be clear cut and have a very high yield for one year, but long term managing of the forest in a sustainable way would produce a long term regular yield.


Materials and products produced from industrial processes and usually based from chemicals or petroleum. Great synthetic products include nylons, rayon, plastics and high tech materials such as waterproof Gore-Tex.

Featured Partner

Popular content