Save The Planet: Environment Dictionary and Vocabulary for Activism

Tori Tornreviewed byIryna Andrus / more about Editorial Process9 min
Created: Apr 21, 2023Last updated: Jan 24, 2024
Save the planet

Environmental issues have always given chills to every English learner. And that is not surprising at all. The fact is that it's pretty challenging for adult learners to develop language skills to be able to relatively fluently express themselves about everyday things, let alone the environment topic. However, there are several things that remind all of us that knowing environmental vocabulary is important indeed – news headlines, the IELTS exam, and Earth Day. And since the holiday that spreads awareness about environmental consciousness is celebrated in April, we decided to create an environment dictionary full of Earth Day words and environmental terms. Stand with the planet every day, not just once a year. Do it locally and globally, using English environmental vocabulary. 

What And When Is Earth Day?

According to the official website, Earth Day is a global celebration when people all around the world accumulated express and demonstrate support for environmental protection. Every year world leaders and well-known activists from different countries mobilize millions of people for transformative action for our planet. They throw various events to bring people's attention and educate them on ending plastic pollution, fighting climate change, and protecting our precious lands, air, water, and wildlife. EARTHDAY.ORG's mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. 

The date for the annual celebration of Earth Day wasn't picked randomly. Inspired by the environmental protests of the 1960s in the USA, in 1970, American senator Gaylord Anton Nelson organized a national demonstration to raise awareness about environmental issues. He chose April 22nd as a perfect date between colleges' spring break and final exams to maximize the number of students reached on university campuses. 

Must-Know Environment Words to Achieve Fluency

Different English learners find different topics challenging to learn in English. However, a significant percentage (the author included) agree that environment words might be tricky to memorize and make a part of active vocabulary. But there is nothing wrong with your English skills, we promise! You just need to break down environment vocabulary into sections for memorizing and practice tapping into words related to nature and environment through sentences. Here are the first chunks of the environment dictionary for you. 

National Earth Day: Environmental Issues

Environmental issues are one of the hottest topics in the news. So, suppose you want to understand what big heads are talking about. In that case, such environmental terms as acid rain, water pollution, and radioactive waste should definitely be a part of your vocabulary. And here are some of them to memorize. 

Acid rain

Meaning: the rain that contains and carries many harmful chemicals collected in the atmosphere due to burning substances such as coal and oil.

Example: Some scientists believe that acid rain is a more urgent environmental issue than global warming.


Meaning: cutting down a lot of trees in a large area to the point there are no trees

Example: The people's desire to produce more goods results in deforestation. 

Endangered species

Meaning: species of animals, birds, or plants that are at risk of extinction because of how few they are left alive on the planet. 

Example: Every country has a special book listing all the endangered species on their territories. 

Exhaust fumes

Meaning: the dangerous gas or steam produced by the running engine of a vehicle or another device that contains toxic chemicals

Example: Many modern illnesses related to breathing result from constant exposure to exhaust fumes. 

Global warming

Meaning: a gradual rise in world temperatures (both air and sea) caused by releasing polluting gases in the Earth's atmosphere because of human activities. 

Example: The decreasing snowy days in Ukraine during the winter happened due to global warming. 

Greenhouse effect

Meaning: the increase in the number of gases in the atmosphere that leads to the trapping of the sun's heat that cannot escape into space. 

Example: Deforestation is significantly contributing to the greenhouse effect. 

Nuclear fallout

Meaning: the radioactive material (radioactive dust and ash) containing hundreds of radionuclides that bust the upper atmosphere following a nuclear blast. 

Example: Nuclear fallout majorly affected people's health after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. 

Nuclear (Radioactive) waste

Meaning: a type of waste containing radioactive material resulting from human activities related to the use of nuclear energy. 

Example: Different types of nuclear waste need a different amount of years to become less radioactive. 

Oil slick

Meaning: a film or layer of oil floating on the exposed water surface such as sea or ocean leaking from a ship or container. 

Example: The oil slick can leak from a damaged tank.

Ozone hole

Meaning: a region of exceptionally depleted ozone in the layer of air high above the Earth over the Antarctic during the Southern Hemisphere's spring. 

Example: Many people have misleading knowledge about the ozone hole. 

Water pollution

Meaning: the pollution of water sources such as rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans with chemicals, trash, and bacteria which makes water unusable for drinking. 

Example: Water pollution made many people buy water for drinking in the supermarkets instead of drinking it right from the tap.

Natural Disasters: Environmental Terms

Being informed about any natural disasters around the world is always devastating. However, if you want to be able to participate in discussions about the latest news, you must know some environmental terms, such as drought and volcanic eruptions. Therefore, Promova gathered a list of natural disaster names in English to add to your dictionary. 


Meaning: an extended period in a particular area without rain (or just with little rain). 

Example: The drought in the area severely affected local agriculture during the summer. 


Meaning: a sudden violent shaking of the Earth's surface of different strengths that may cause destruction and even volcanic action. 

Example: The sudden earthquake in Turkey resulted in thousands of victims being buried under ruined buildings. 


Meaning: when the water rises and overflows a body of water and spreads onto a surrounding area which is usually dry due to prolonged rainfalls or the failure of water control structures. 

Example: The dam got ruined because of its terrible condition, so several little towns flooded. 

Tidal wave

Meaning: a large wave up to a few inches or feet tall that occurs because of the movement of the Earth under the sea. 

Example: A tidal wave hit the beach at night, but no one got hurt. 


Meaning: a violent tropical cyclone that brings wind, rain, and destruction. 

Example: The citizens received an alarm message from the authorities that a typhoon was coming, and they needed to find a place to hide underground. 

Volcanic eruption

Meaning: the explosive release of the gas and/or lava

Example: The girl survived an unexpected volcanic eruption during a tourist trip. 


Earth Day Words: Verbs to Talk about the Environment

To talk about Earth Day and the environment, nouns alone are not enough. You also need to know verbs that can describe problems and advise what to do to save the planet. Reveal our list next.  


Meaning: to use organic materials as a plant fertilizer.



Meaning: to ruin something entirely by damaging or attacking it. 

Example: Human greed destroys millions of acres each year.

Dispose (of)

Meaning: to get rid of something. 

Example: The government must dispose of the waste properly.


Meaning: to throw away something in a careless way. 

Example: You can dump recyclable garbage in this container.


Meaning: to treat something in a particular way to maintain it in its existing state.



Meaning: to keep safe from harm or any bad influence. 

Example: It's our responsibility to protect the natural habit of this beautiful planet before it's too late.


Meaning: to contaminate with harmful or toxic substances. 

Example: If you pollute in your own backyard, you'll eventually notice it.


Meaning: to make a reusable material from waste. 

Example: Make sure to recycle all paper and plastics.


Meaning: to use something in a different way and more than once. 


Use up

Meaning: use all of a stock of something. 

Example: Hopefully, we'll not use up all our resources before we start solving this problem together.

How to Learn Earth Day Words and Environment Vocabulary with Promova

Learning English, you will come across many topics that might seem irrelevant and useless since you don't talk about them even in your native language that often. But don't be fooled! Earth Day and environment words are crucial to know when you are chasing true fluency in English. Moreover, the holiday itself and environmental protection are hot topics in the everyday American and worldwide agenda. So, you absolutely must form an environment dictionary! But how to do that, you may ask. 

Your first choice should be using Promova, a one-stop solution for all your language-learning needs. First, start learning environmental vocabulary and Earth Day words on the Promova app. You will find several bite-sized lessons with memorable flashcards that will help you to grasp new words related to nature and the environment in no time. 

When you pass that first step, you can move on to something more challenging. In that case, Promova offers individual and group classes for English learners of any fluency level. Our certified teachers create a personalized learning plan for every student, which, let's wake up and smell coffee, is much more effective for achieving your learning goal. All you need to sign up for a tutoring program is to pass a quick test to determine your English proficiency and use the first free trial lesson to define your interests and goals. For example, suppose you need to prepare to speak about environmental issues for IELTS. Our tutors can help you practice conversational skills and expand your vocabulary with some environmental phrases and words. 

If you want more speaking practice, join the Promova Conversational Club. We hold international meetings with people from all over the world in small groups every week absolutely for free! Our teachers pick the topic to discuss in advance and ensure everyone has time to express themselves and get enough practice. Also, we encourage you to read the Promova blog and follow our Instagram for more useful content, including Earth Day vocabulary and environmental terms. 


Thus, knowing environmental words may not be as crucial as the basic lexicon needed to go through booking the flights or a hotel for the trip, but adding it to your dictionary will definitely level up your English. Learning just enough environmental vocabulary will make it easier for you to read the news and discuss important people with educated peers. Remember that working hard on polishing your English is challenging until you set the right goal for yourself. Why can't it be celebrating Earth Day and helping the environment?


How to describe the environment?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the environment is defined as the complex of physical, chemical, and biotic factors (such as climate, soil, and living things) that act upon an organism or an ecological community and ultimately determine its form and survival. To rephrase it more simply, the environment combines all biotic and abiotic components and their influence on human life. Non-living elements of the environment include all biotic and abiotic components, and living elements are human beings and other living beings such as animals, plants, forests, fisheries, and birds. 

What is the difference between Earth Day and World Environment Day?

First, we must state that Earth Day and World Environment Day are two different holidays. Thus, they are united by a common theme – saving the planet. When Earth Day is celebrated on April 22nd and intended to help protect the environment, World Environment Day is the United Nations (UN) invention. In 1972, the UN General Assembly formed the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), which established World Environment Day and chose June 5th as a date for a holiday. This day aims to raise awareness and encourage governments to take active actions to protect the environment from global problems such as global warming, deforestation, and depletion of the ozone layer.

Do I really need to know words related to the environment to be fluent in English?

Everybody sets different goals when they start or proceed to learn English. Some learners don't aim to become fluent in English. For instance, people need to know up to 3,000 words to carry on everyday conversations. However, if you do want to reach fluency, you need to absorb and memorize as many words and phrases as possible. According to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages), knowing at least 5,000 English words makes a learner pretty much proficient (C2). However, those cannot be just random words. They must be included in some obligatory topics to learn for English students. And one such topic is the environment. So, while knowing every single English word is unnecessary to claim yourself a fluent speaker, being able to operate in an environment vocabulary is essential. This topic correlates with the current agenda in the world. 

Why is the environment one of the topics for IELTS?

The International English Language Testing System, better known as IELTS, aims to provide a fair and accurate assessment of English language proficiency. The language fluency of every learner can be determined at any level, up to the expert. That is why the topics included in the test cover various things. One of them is the topic of the environment, which consists of environmental problems, protection of the environment, words related to nature and environment, wildlife, etc. This very topic is a popular one for the speaking part of IELTS. And language specialists included it in tests considering the relevance of the topic in general and its great coverage in the media. You can notice many headlines in the news dedicated to the environment. Plus, this topic is considered more advanced than family or food, for instance. So those who want to get the highest IELTS score will be able to demonstrate their command of English skills in all their glory. 


SurenMar 14th, 2024
good, although I didn’t understand everything
PromovaAug 8th, 2023
A robust environmental vocabulary is a tool for change. It empowers individuals, communities, and policymakers to envision and work towards a 'circular economy,' 'zero waste,' 'renewable resource management,' and 'ecosystem restoration.' By articulating these goals, we pave the way for a more sustainable and harmonious world.
Rose RobertsonAug 8th, 2023
In what ways does an enriched environmental vocabulary contribute to shaping a more sustainable future?