Exciting Eco-Eating: The Down & Dirty On Edible Insects

The U.N. recently released a report extolling the virtues of edible insects as an environmentally responsible alternative to meat as a source of protein and other nutrients.  With their high fat, protein, fiber, and mineral contents, edible insects certainly pack a healthy punch! What’s even better is that the cost to our environment to raise insects for consumption is far less than the impact of raising large livestock for meat.

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Even though entomophagy, or the act of eating insects, hasn’t quite caught on in the West (yet!), in many other countries around the world, bugs are eaten with gusto and are often considered a delicacy. So, why should you add bugs to your menu?

The Problem: Meat is Unsustainable
Relying on large livestock (cattle, pigs, and chickens, for example) for one’s primary source of protein means one must rely on highly inefficient, greenhouse-gas-producing, and sometimes cruel practices to obtain nutrients. Not to mention the health problems associated with consuming too much meat.  With the world’s population growing at an incredible rate and the demand for food rising along with it, having enough land to support both people and large livestock will soon become an issue, as well. All this is why many have said that producing and consuming as much livestock as we do is not sustainable.

But, you’re not willing to go cold turkey on your meat and go vegetarian? Why not try substituting meat with insects every now and then? All the nutrients, none of the burden on our environment.

Edible Insects: Less is More
Insects are an eco-friendly food option for a simple reason: they need less—less food (some insects can be raised on human/animal waste, which reduces the possibility of environmental contamination and avoids wasting food that could be eaten by humans), less water, less space. They even release fewer greenhouse gases and ammonia than cows, pigs, and chickens.

Many insects’ feed conversion rates (the amount of feed it takes to put on 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight in an animal) are much lower than traditional meat sources. The feed conversion rates of crickets, chickens, pigs, and cows are shown below:

Crickets 3.7 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Chickens 5.5 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Pigs 11 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Cows 22 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain

Large livestock create a larger toll on the earth with problems ranging from habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and contamination from livestock and feed farms and farming practices. In general, insects are more efficient to farm and their impact on the environment is much less severe.

For something we spend so much time and money trying to exterminate, insects may actually be the first step to a solution to many of our world’s burgeoning social and environmental problems. All we have to do is get past those legs.

Creepy Crawly Recipes
Looking for some yummy ways to try bugs? Check out these sites, and add some environmentally conscious treats to your plate.

http://edibug.wordpress.com/recipes/
http://www.ent.iastate.edu/misc/insectsasfood.html
http://www.insectsarefood.com/recipes.html

For other ways to add a splash of green to your life, check out Dolphin Blue for sustainable office, home, and pet supplies.

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

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Infographic Friday: Rise Above Plastics

What Goes In The Ocean Goes In You.

Follow these steps to reduce your ‘plastic footprint’ and help keep plastics out of the marine environment:

  1. Use cloth bags for shopping and metal/glass reusable bottles instead of plastic
  2. Reduce everyday plastics such as sandwich bags by replacing them with a reusable lunch bag, sandwich bag or snack bag
  3. Bring your travel mug with you to the coffee shop
  4. Go digital and buy your music and movies online
  5. Support plastic bag bans, polystyrene foam bans and bottle recycling bills
  6. Volunteer at a beach cleanup (check Surfrider Foundation Chapters to find one near you)
  7. Recycle.  But if you must use plastic, try to choose #1 (PETE) or #2 (HDPE), the most commonly recycled plastics.  Avoid plastic bags and polystyrene foam
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Infographic Friday: How Paper Recycling Works

Have you ever wondered how paper recycling actually works? Check out the infographic below and see how your daily recycling efforts are making a real difference.

We RecycleDolphin Blue has been a big fan of recycled paper since the 90’s.   (Remember the 90’s? Good times.) We pride ourselves in the fact that our papers contain a minimum of 20% post-consumer recycled content, with many of our paper options repping a 100% post-consumer content stamp. In other words, Dolphin Blue offers “tree free” paper. Yes, we love the environment.

And not to brag on our paper products, but they also offer even more great qualities like being processed chlorine free, being made with Green-e Renewable Energy, being carbon neutral plus, and being Green Seal and FSC certified. We love supporting environmentally minded paper industry leaders like Boise, Wausau, Mohawk, Neenah, and Beckett Concept.

Dolphin Blue would love to provide you with environmentally friendly paper. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on our new website, give us a call.  We’re here to help.

How Paper Recycling Works

Infographic courtesy of Brave Media LLC.

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No More Stuff: A Consumer Detox Q&A

Wildlife rescuer Carly Wilson has pledged not to buy any stuff for 90 days. Photo by Jonathan Mao.

Wildlife rescuer Carly Wilson has pledged not to buy any stuff for 90 days. Photo by Jonathan Mao.

Starting in January, Queensland, Australia–based wildlife rescuer Carly Wilson committed to a 90-day pledge not to buy anymore stuff, on the heels of trying out month-long no-buying stints last year. As she writes on her blog: “As I’ve talked about a million times, an excess of stuff does more harm than good. It clutters up your home and (for me at least) your headspace. It also costs you financially (more than you realise) and worst of all, it is so damaging to the planet.”

We caught up with Wilson to see what exactly a consumer detox entails, how she’s faring, and what lessons she’s learned along the way.

Dolphin Blue: What inspired you to try a consumer detox?
Carly Wilson: About two years ago, I started reading through personal finance blogs as a way to learn about money and pay off some debt. The personal finance blogosphere ended up leading me to the frugal living and minimalism blogospheres, including The Everyday Minimalist and Dave Bruno’s The 100 Thing Challenge. I became inspired to cut down on my consumption of things as a way to save money and also conserve planetary resources. I work with wild animals for a living and understand that all the crap we buy has to come from somewhere — and that “somewhere” is usually at the expense of our world’s habitats. I think it’s really important that we start learning to live with less.

DB: What rules have you set for yourself?
CW: For three months, I can only buy the essential items like food and toiletries — no clothing, no music, no books. Basically, no non-essential things. I’m still allowed to go to movies and out to dinner and things like that, though, because those things don’t involve “stuff.”

DB: You’re in it for 90 days this time. How’s it going so far?
CW: It’s going pretty well. I did end up having to buy a few pieces of clothing for work because I just started a new job with a mandatory uniform that they don’t provide. I felt pretty bad about that, but aside from that, I haven’t broken any rules! I’m two months into my challenge now and the crazy thing I’m finding is that the further along I get with it, the less I am interested in buying stuff. In fact, I’ve donated a lot of what I do have. It feels great to live lightly, and I actually have saved quite a lot of money too!

DB: Why do you think not buying things is so challenging?
CW: I think that our culture is addicted to the thrill of the next purchase. It can be exciting to covet something, and our culture surrounds us with subtle advertising to make us believe that owning certain things will make us feel a certain way — but at the end of the day, chasing that lifestyle drains our bank accounts, clutters our homes, distracts us from what’s important in life, and pollutes our planet.

DB: What have you learned from your efforts to not accumulate more stuff?
CW: I’ve learned that it is really freaking amazing to have a clutter-free wardrobe and that you actually dress better if you have exactly what you need instead of piles and piles of mediocre [clothes]. This experiment has been a very liberating one, and I feel much lighter as a result. I don’t have the burden of clutter or the burden of debt and that’s an awesome feeling. As a wildlife advocate, I also feel great knowing that I am doing my part to lessen my impact on the planet.

DB: Would you recommend a consumer detox to others?
CW: Definitely! It’s amazing to step outside of our society’s consumerism culture for a short while and realize how little you actually need to be happy.

To learn more about Wilson, visit her blog at www.carlywilson.com/blog, where she writes about wildlife and non-consumerism, and follow her on Twitter @carlycreature.

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How What You Eat Affects the Environment

SaladFood is a part of everyone’s lives — and it affects many different things, including your individual health, the health of the environment, and the health of animals. If you want to see how your diet scores on these three factors, click here. The considerations that go into each score include:

Health: saturated fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, calcium, vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, correlations of foods with cancer, and heart disease

Environment: air and water pollution from manure, cattle belching, production and overuse of fertilizer, depletion of groundwater, unnecessary use of land to produce feed grains and soil erosion, and over-grazing

Animal welfare: castration, hot-iron branding, debeaking, detailing, cramped cages and feedlots, cattle feed high in grain, and inhumane shipping and slaughterhouse practices

Also on the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s site is the Eating Green Calculator, which is a more simplified look at what you eat each week. It gives you stats on what it takes to fuel your diet — like how many acres of grain and grass are needed for animal feed, the pounds of pesticides and fertilizer used, and the amount of manure created by animals you eat.

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A Society of Overconsumption

Plastic toys are just one category from which we purchase in abundance in the U.S.

Plastic toys are just one category from which we purchase in abundance in the U.S.

When it comes to our ecological impact on the earth, there are three major factors involved: the population (which we talked about a couple of weeks ago), how much each person is consuming, and how efficiently each unit of consumption is produced.

Let’s focus on the second factor, how much each person is consuming, particularly in this nation. Although the U.S. has a lower birth rate than many other countries, we consume much, much more than most of the rest of the world. Compared with someone from China, an American consumes about 53 times more goods and services. Each of us uses as much energy as 370 Ethiopians. While collectively there are fewer Americans than people of other nationalities, each one of us has a huge impact on the world.

For example, Americans use:

– 2.5 gallons of oil a day
– 100 gallons of water a day
– 200 pounds of meat a year
– 500 plastic bags a year

We’re not alone — other industrialized countries use plenty of resources, too. Since 1950, the world’s people have consumed more goods and services than the combined total of all humans who ever walked the planet before us, according to The Sierra Club.

At our current rate of consumption, at some point, there won’t be enough left to consume. The earth’s resources are finite, and no matter how much technology advances, it can only find more creative ways to produce things, but it cannot recover resources once they’re destroyed.

Even with this knowledge, we continue to make poor environmental choices. Take the Tar Sands Keystone XL Pipeline (which Dolphin Blue is producing a documentary on). We’re piping oil mined in Canada and then transporting this oil in a major pipeline that will destroy huge areas of habitat for several thousand miles through Canada and the U.S., to a port near Houston. From there, the oil will be shipped to China and used in the manufacturing of cheap, throwaway goods that will come back stateside for sale — where they’ll quickly be disposed of. It’s inefficient, irresponsible, and environmentally destructive, not to mention unnecessary.

Borrow instead of buy whenever you can.

Borrow instead of buy whenever you can.

How can we change? We’re entrenched in a culture that values material goods, so it isn’t easy to adjust these patterns of consuming. They won’t go away overnight, but here are some small steps you can take as a start:

>> Fight against the urge to “keep up with the Joneses” and have all the latest gadgets and gizmos. Make splurging on something an occasional thing and not an everyday occurrence.

>> When you do need to buy something, look for the most eco-responsible options, including items that are made in the USA. Also, ask yourself if it’s something you could borrow instead.

>> If you’re working on a big project like sprucing up your home, don’t just rush out and buy new things. For example, in remodeling his house, Dolphin Blue founder Tom Kemper is reusing materials taken out of the existing structure; using recovered lumber and wooden floors from teardowns; installing a metal roof to facilitate rainwater collection; installing photovoltaic panels to produce and satisfy his household’s energy needs; buying old tubs, sinks, and doors; and refurbishing the old windows.

>> If there are public transportation options where you live, use them. Bikes and feet are great, too, for shorter distances.

>> Some people shop as a pick-me-up; the rush of buying something new can turn around a bad day. If this applies to you, replace that urge to buy with another behavior — going for a run in the park, giving yourself an hour to read, taking a nap, etc.

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Green Blowback in Six Steps

Blowback is a concept that usually refers to a negative consequence that occurs because of implementing a particular national policy.

However, blowback can be positive; and we should set our sights on facilitating positive blowback that furthers a green agenda. Below are steps we could take to facilitate blowback that…

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Green-Blowback-in-Six-Steps.html

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Heroes of Sustainability: Occupy Wall Street Protesters


Occupy Wall Street burst on the scene in mid-September, making front-page news and becoming common water-cooler conversation across the country. The movement set up shop in New York City’s Zuccotti Park, in the heart of the Wall Street financial district, with the goal of making it known that issues like high unemployment, inequality, greed…

To continue reading this article, please visit: http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Heroes-of-Sustainability-OWS-Protesters.html

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Building it Green: The Richness of Ancestral Wood

1ceiling view to gable on bathroom-kitchen end

As we anticipate with glee, the receipt of our tiny house, it is exciting to see the progress being made day-by-day.

The richness of the ancestral wood has given new life in the birthing of our new tiny house is becoming so obvious, as the milk paint emphasizes the wood’s energy and character.

The bathroom and kitchen walls are being erected, and both gable ends are now at the point of completion, with
the beautiful wall boards, ceiling boards and wainscot being finished or nearly finished.

To bring forth the final finish of this deeply rich wood, the surface will be lightly sanded, then finished with
Tung Oil.

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas House, please visit our facebook album.  Thanks for following our progress.

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Building it Green: Wainscot Bead Board

interrior walls 2

Our tiny house is taking on its character, a character with the energy of its ancestors.

The ceiling boards are reclaimed from a home built in the 1860’s, the wainscot bead board from another home constructed in the 1880’s, the door from a home welcoming those who entered through during the 1850’s to 1860’s.

The “bubble gum” bead board in our tiny house is covered with old milk paint, in very light hues of blue, lavender, pink, yellow and green, kind of like old-fashioned Easter egg colors, or, the colors of bubble gum. Once paneled along the base of the walls in wainscot fashion, the bead boards will be lightly sanded and treated with Tung Oil, natural oil derived from the Chinese Tung Tree.

The striping look of the bead board comes from letting the natural unpainted board show up, providing contrast and showing the beautiful rich Long Leaf Pine with 140 years or more of natural patina. Both the bead board and the ship-lap boards (oriented horizontally above the wainscot) are at least 100-years old, and originate from materials salvaged from once stately homes, deconstructed to make room for new development. There is a fair number of cheesecloth tacks still present in the ship-lap boards, which once held the wallpaper in place for a century. Wallpaper was used in part to be fashionable, but mostly to stop the wind from penetrating the walls into the living areas of the former home.

We’re ecstatic as we joyously anticipate receiving delivery of the Kemper Tiny House in mid-January. The most wonderful things about the creation of our tiny house are the history, living memory, and embodied spirit of those who have resided among the beautiful wood and glass that now make this little house the sanctuary it will be. Perhaps what is most meaningful is that our Tiny House embodies the resurrection of the former homes that otherwise may have ended their lives in a landfill or incinerator.

For more photos of the wainscot bead board inside our Tiny Texas House, please visit our facebook album.

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