Hope for the American Energy Crisis

In an op-ed published this month in the New York Times, Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, declares that our energy productivity and energy security are the best they’ve been since the 70’s. This opinion finds itself in stark contrast of those who think we need to construct the massive Keystone XL pipeline, or create a surge of oil and gas drilling, or start a nuclear power renaissance. Keep reading to learn more about Cavanagh’s article.

Cavanagh says that we have President Obama’s climate action plan to thank for the new-found positivity surrounding our nation’s energy news. Obama’s climate action plan gives top priority to the most productive and lowest-cost options for energy, which includes the “energy efficient resources” that come from getting more out of oil, natural gas and electricity with efficient equipment and vehicles that are used more carefully.

According to government data, energy-saving efforts in the U.S. have resulted in a steady decline in energy use since 2007. In 2012, energy use was lower than it had been in 1999, despite the 25 percent growth spurt the economy experienced since then. Cavanagh states that this trend is the result of factories and businesses producing more products and value with less energy, the main goal Obama’s climate action plan.

American oil use is also in decline, down 14 percent compared to a peak in 2005. The U.S. used less oil last year than in 1973, even though the economy is now 3 times as large as it was back then! This is thanks to better mileage from our vehicles and driving those vehicles less. Greenhouse gas emission, energy costs, and gasoline use have also declined; saving billions of dollars and helping the American economy compete in a global market whilst helping to make the U.S. more secure.

To continue this progress, Cavanagh says that the federal and state governments must keep increasing efficiency standards for buildings, equipment, and vehicles. And the Environmental Protection Agency must reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by implementing standards that focus on energy efficiency to reduce pollution. He also states that utility companies should be rewarded by state regulators for helping customers utilize energy efficiently instead of penalizing those companies for not increasing their sales. Annual rate adjustments should be instituted by regulators to allow for unexpected changes in energy utility sales.

Over the past 40 years, the U.S. has found many innovative ways to save energy; we have more than doubled the economic productivity of our oil, natural gas and electricity. America’s most productive energy resource has been efficiency all along and it starts with the everyday decisions we make at home and at work. By simply trading out our old light bulbs for energy saving bulbs and updating our homes and buildings with energy-saving products and appliances, we will continue to see our energy productivity and energy security increase in America. If we focus on achieving more energy savings, we will also reduce costs and pollution. It seems the future of energy is not as dark as it once seemed.

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Germany Breaks World Record for Solar Power Generation

At Dolphin Blue we love clean, green energy! That’s why we love solar power. This past July, Germany set a world record by producing 5.1 terawatt-hours (TWh) of solar energy. To put that in perspective, a terawatt is equal to 1,000,000,000,000 (one trillion) watts or the average amount of energy that a lightning strike gives off. You get the picture; it’s a lot of energy to generate! The U.S. only produced about .764 TWh this past July, but according to market reports, U.S. solar power is on the rise.

Solar power capacity per capita in Germany was about 400 Megawatts (MW) per million people in 2012 compared to about 25 MW per million people in the U.S.  This is mainly influenced at the local, state, and national levels by countries like Germany incentivizing solar adoption through long-term policies, which have in turn helped to reduce the costs of installing solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems. In fact, the costs to install PV systems in Germany are nearly 40% lower than in the U.S.

Despite the drastic cost differences between solar power systems in the U.S. and Germany, the cost of solar modules in the U.S. is decreasing rapidly every year. In 2012, the U.S. installed a record 3,313 MW of solar power systems and the market size for the solar power industry grew from $8.6 billion the previous year to $11.5 billion.

As the U.S. continues the trend of increasing installed PV systems and solar power generation, the solar power industry will hopefully be able to reduce installation costs. As it becomes more affordable to install solar power systems, global solar energy adoption will allow us to generate clean, green electricity worldwide.

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Green Eating for a Healthy Home

Creating eco-friendly meals for your family doesn’t have to involve expensive organic produce and pricey fair-trade ingredients. Just by buying local fruits and vegetables, reducing your family’s consumption of meat, and choosing sustainable seafood can help to reduce pollution, carbon emissions, and the strain on our Earth’s natural resources. Dolphin Blue has gathered some great vegetarian recipes to help you green your eating habits. You’ll probably find that what is good for the planet is also delicious!

Veggie Stuffed Shells

Portobello Pizzas

Turkey, Tomato and Emmentaler Breakfast Sandwiches

Responsible eating can start before your meal preparation begins and last after dinner has been enjoyed. Keep reading for some more ideas on how to keep your cooking and kitchen eco-friendly. And don’t forget to try out Dolphin Blue’s environmentally friendly Preserve Kitchenware and Tableware.

  • Research sustainable seafood to ensure the ecological health of the oceans. Read labels or speak to your grocer to see which species are caught and farmed responsibly to make sure you’re buying responsibly
  • Cut more and cook less. The more you are able to cut your food into smaller pieces, the less time it will take to cook and therefore the less energy you will use
  • Put a lid on it. When boiling or simmering, put a lid on your pot and turn of your burner. This will enable your food to cook while also saving energy
  • Try to use all edible parts of your food. Leave the skins on your produce (after your scrub it clean) and eat all parts of your fruits and vegetables if you’re able to
  • Grow your own food! Learn more about sustainable practices by growing your own food and teaching your family how to grow their own food. The distance from your garden to your table is very eco-friendly!

Keep checking the Dolphin Blue blog every week for more eco-friendly tips for your home and garden.

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Infographic Friday: Sometimes Less Is More

Lao Tzu, or Laozi, is generally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism. Taoism emphasizes living in harmony with everything that exists. His quote reminds us that sometimes less is more and the things that we need are already within our reach.

Find eco-friendly inspiration every Friday on the Dolphin Blue blog!

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Save Money by Making Green Waves at Home

Dolphin Blue isn’t just your favorite online store for green products for your home, garden, and office, we’re also a great resource for tips on how to make your home more eco-friendly. Keep reading to learn how you can save some money this fall and help save the Earth!

1. Turn off the lights when you leave a room and especially when you leave your home for the office or school. Turning off light bulbs can make a huge dent in your electric bill.

2. Use cold water when you wash your clothes. Your washing machine uses up to 90% of its energy heating water for warm or hot wash cycles. Using cooler water also helps your clothes last longer.

3. Remember to clean the lint trap in your dryer after every cycle. The lint that builds up can cost you on your electric bill and can also turn into a fire hazard!

4. If you want the freshest linens, use a clothesline to dry your laundry in the sun. You can purchase a clothesline for a few dollars and keep your clothes dryer shut off completely.

5. Research your local utility companies and choose one that offers ‘green energy’. Some companies offer a discount for purchasing power created by green generators such as windmills.

6. Move your fridge if it sits next to a stove or dishwasher. The refrigerator has to work harder to keep your groceries cool if it sits next to something that gives off a lot of heat. Relocating your fridge can help you save energy and keep your snacks cool!

7. Replace pricey cleaning products with a mixture of hot water and white vinegar. If that doesn’t cut it, watch for eco-friendly cleaning products like the ones that Dolphin Blue offers. They are easy on the Earth but tough on dirt. Don’t forget to recycle the bottles!

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Buy “Made in the USA” This Labor Day!

As we celebrate the economic and social contributions of American workers this Labor Day, it’s important to remember the reasons why purchasing products that are “Made In America” is so vital to the success of the American economy and to the American worker. Dolphin Blue only carries products “Made in the USA” and has high standards for environmental sustainability. Keep reading to learn the top ten reasons why it is important to support your economy and buy “Made in the USA”!

10. To Support Safer Working Conditions

American labor and safety laws not only support American manufacturers, they ensure that American workers are provided with safe working conditions. When you buy American made products you support safe working conditions and important child labor laws.

9. To Support Growth of the American Economy

When you spend your money at companies that offer products that are Made In America, they have a higher likelihood of spending those dollars on goods and services that benefit the American economy. Those companies are more likely to hire local employees and use local services such as banks, printing services, shipping, etc. That money spent on local businesses by local businesses is then circulated within the community. Jobs that are shipped overseas rarely come back to the USA. In order to build an economy where our children are more likely to find quality employment, it is important to purchase Made In America products that help keep jobs and companies in the USA.

8. To Protect the Environment

Manufacturing processes in the USA are usually better for the environment than some in other countries with less environmental protections in place. Some products that are produced in other countries and shipped to America are manufactured using dangerous polluting processes and chemicals. And when products are Made in the USA, they travel shorter distances to get to you which means less fossil-fuels were needed! Purchasing American-made products help to protect the environment and keep the world cleaner for future generations.

7. To Support Fair Wages

When you choose products made in the USA, you support fair wages and the laws put in place to protect them. Many countries do not have minimum wage restrictions or have a very low minimum wage in place. The USA is one of the few countries with regulated wages, helping to preserve the economy and create quality jobs for Americans. Sometimes the low prices of products in other countries are available because the country is willing to exploit its workers and not pay them a fair wage. American-made products are created with a higher standard that protect the livelihood of the American worker.

6. To Support American Independence

It is important for the American economy to become more independent as we find new and innovative ways grow industrially. By using American resources instead of the resources of other countries,  we will be able to bring more business and jobs in to our economy and remain powerful in the world markets. The rising inability of America to manufacture many products is economically unsound. Buying good Made in the USA fosters American independence and growth.

5. To Work Toward America’s Financial Freedom

The growing American trade deficit has lead to unsustainable borrowing from other countries. Purchasing domestically made products helps to reduce America’s trade deficit. By keeping jobs and dollars in America we can begin to improve the American economy and reduce debt.

4. To Protect Your Family

The United States has laws in place designed to help manufacturers produce quality products and protect consumers. Foreign product safety standards are low. For example, millions of toys shipped to the USA from overseas contain dangerous levels of leads. Toys made in the USA, such as Green Toys, are subject to safety standards that protect your family.

3. To Support Quality Products

Although prices overseas can be lower than in the USA, overseas suppliers use lower quality products. When you buy Made in the USA products you are receiving a higher quality item. You also receive products in a more timely manner than when work is outsourced to a different country. Quality control is higher for American made products because manufacturers tend to pay more attention to details and quality. It may cost more for a product Made in the USA, but the higher quality more than makes up for the difference.

2. To Ensure Economic Independence

By using USA made products, you help secure future business in America. By choosing domestic over imported products you help ensure that the Unites States will not be dependent on other countries for goods. Political conflict may affect trade with other countries but purchasing items made in the USA will allow our economy to thrive despite any political issues.

1. To Keep Jobs In America

When you purchase products Made in the USA, you help to keep yourself employed by helping to keep your customers, neighbors and friends employed.  As the USA becomes less able to manufacture our own products, future generations will suffer by finding it more and more difficult to find relevant jobs. When you buy products Made in the USA, you help to grow the American economy and ensure a brighter future for young Americans.

Visit DolphinBlue.com to learn more about why we only carry eco-friendly products that are Made in the USA.

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D is for Donate, F is for Food

It’s that time of year again; back to school time! And whether you’re a student, teacher, or parent, you’re busy getting ready to have a great school year. You may have already bought the school supplies that you need from Dolphin Blue, but before you present your new teacher with a shiny apple on the first day of school, chew on this food for thought.

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently released a report revealing that 40% of food in the U.S. goes uneaten. Americans throw away about $165 billion worth of food each year, filling up landfills with food waste that accounts for a quarter of harmful U.S. methane emissions. But even though we waste a mind-boggling amount of food, one out of every six Americans is food insecure, meaning they aren’t sure where they will get their next meal or if they will get one at all. Luckily, you and your school can help make a difference this year.

Schools all over the country are implementing food donation programs to help offset American food waste and food insecurity issues. Thanks to recent legislation and the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, public schools and food donors can donate unused food items without liability or risk. Elementary schools are donating unopened cafeteria food to local shelters and food banks. Colleges and universities are implementing new donation programs fueled by student volunteer groups who pick up unused food from campus dining halls and deliver it to local soup kitchens.

Reducing food waste by 15 percent could save enough food to feed more than 25 million people each year. Limiting food waste also saves energy and precious resources like land and water. So, after you get your lunch packed and your notebook ready, take a lesson from thoughtful students around the country and learn how you can start a food donation program at your school. Call your local food bank to learn more about how you can help reduce food waste and start making green waves today!

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The Taste Test: A Look at the Many Milk Alternatives as a Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint

The glass of milk that you might have had for breakfast this morning may seem innocuous enough, but the truth is, milk—and the carbon footprint that it bears—is quite complex. The many emissions of the many processes that it takes to produce a gallon of milk (the feed production, the raising of the cows and milk production, the transportation and packaging, the distribution, the consumption, and the disposal of both the product and its container) might make the eco-friendly mind think twice about this ubiquitous dairy product that emits about 17.6 pounds of carbon for every gallon produced. Wondering about the other options out there, I went to my local grocery store to try out some alternatives to this bovine beverage.

Cashew MilkWhile doing research for this post, I found an incredibly easy recipe for cashew milk. There is always a great thrill when you get to eat something you made with your own hands. And it was not bad! It had a very sweet, almost wheaty taste. It was like when you leave cheerios in the milk for too long and then drink it straight from the bowl. Yummy!

Rice MilkThe rice milk was lighter than the cashew milk in both taste and color. It was pleasantly sweet and very delicious. I would recommend drinking this milk with cereal for breakfast. It would definitely wake me up!

Almond MilkThe vanilla flavored almond milk was a huge hit with my family. It was very sweet, and had the most un-milk-like taste of them all, but in a wonderful way. I can’t wait to try it with a big slice of chocolate cake to see if the sweetness of the two complements each other. My dad recommends that all of you put it in your morning coffee.

Hemp MilkAnd, last but not least, was the hemp milk. I’d have to say that this was my favorite, because it was like nothing I’d ever tasted. Still, it was very yummy. It had a brownish color to it and a light, woodsy taste. I’m not sure it would go as well as the others with cereal, but it could certainly stand on its own.

All in all, my safari through the different flavors of not-milk was highly satisfying. It is always fun to expand your food horizons, especially when it leads to sustainably-minded shopping. You can reduce your carbon footprint by buying recycled products from Dolphin Blue, today!

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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Freeganism: A Waste-Free Way of Life

Freegans dumpster diving for re-usable items.Freeganism is a movement that focuses on reducing and making use of society’s waste by decreasing one’s participation in an economy of consumption and instead obtaining the resources needed to live—food, materials, shelter—through alternative means that are both free and produce minimal waste. Freeganism is very community-centered and demands to know why so many people starve every day or freeze to death out in the streets when at the same time tons of edible food is being thrown away and buildings lie vacant because the owner could not turn a profit on them. By standing up for these values in a variety of ways, Freegans promote sharing, food independence, and decreasing waste.

    • Waste reclamation/minimization: Rather than adding to the waste generated by consuming new materials, Freegans often acquire many of the materials and food that they need from dumpster diving and from community sharing programs like Free Stores. If there is a needed item that cannot be obtained from dumpster diving or community sharing programs, buying from second-hand stores is another way to reduce the waste coming from our society.
    • Alternative transportation: Buying gas and other necessities and accessories for cars contributes to our world’s dependence on greenhouse-gas-producing fossil fuels. Therefore, Freegans forgo the money- and resource-suck that are cars and choose alternative means of transportation like bikes, hitchhiking, and train jumping.
    • Rent-free housing: The waste in our society can also be seen in our communities’ willingness to let livable spaces remain empty when thousands of us live on the streets. Freegans recognize that housing is a right, not a privilege, and so practice squatting in abandoned buildings and house-sharing programs.
    • Going green: Freegans often plant community gardens (or, guerilla gardens) to gain food independence from giant agribusinesses, as well as to be able to share safe, free food with others. Freegans also forage for food and medicinal plants in the wilderness, proving that one can live independently from supermarkets and pharmacies as people once did not too long ago.
    • Working less: By living outside of the consumer-driven economy, Freegans don’t find the need to participate in monotonous, demanding work in order to earn a paycheck. Time could be better put to use volunteering in the community or doing something you enjoy. By working less or not working at all, Freegans refuse to be a cog in the corporate machines only to earn money to throw back at the many corrupt and wasteful companies.

Everyone in our society can work to reduce the exorbitant waste that we produce in our daily lives by learning from the Freegan example. By buying less, buying second-hand, and/or buying recycled we can all reduce the trash that threatens to bury us all. By growing our own garden, we can develop a relationship with nature while also becoming food independent.

(This blog was written by Dolphin Blue’s amazing intern, Elisa Rivera.)

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Tips to Save Energy & Keep Cool This Summer

As summer temperatures rise, often so does the electricity bill. If you’re looking for some ways to beat the heat and save energy this summer, check out the tips below.

  1. Keep shades closed when the air conditioner is on.
  2. Use cold water to wash dishes and clothes.
  3. Raise your thermostat to 78 degrees.
  4. Turn lights off when exiting a room.
  5. Unplug equipment or appliances not in use.
  6. Use weather-strip and caulk.
  7. Install low-flow shower heads and faucets.
  8. Install ceiling fans and make sure they are flowing down.
  9. Check and clean filters.

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