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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MillerCoors Stops Getting Wasted

MillerCoors Golden, COBetween Denver and The Rocky Mountains of Colorado sits the quaint city of Golden, home of MillerCoors, the largest brewery in America. Back in 1873, Adolph Coors chose the site to brew his famous beer because of the high quality Rocky Mountain spring water available in the area. And now, MillerCoors has entered into sustainability history books as the first brewery of its size to become landfill-free.

MillerCoors has been taking steps over the past two years to increase their recycling efforts, investing $1 million for balers, choppers, compactors, colored cans and signage.  Efforts to move to a no-waste facility started by removing personal trash cans then lead to a strict color-coded recycling bin system: yellow for aluminum, white for plastic shrink wrap, gray for scrap metal, and green for wood to eventually be ground into mulch.

Company leaders tracked monthly employee progress to gradually reduce the amount of waste they were sending to landfills. As goals were met, they were celebrated with gifts of T-shirts and tree saplings.

MillersCoors is now diverting 135 tons of waste out of landfills every month. Spent grains from the production of the 346 million gallons of beer are used to feed cattle. Discarded glass is sent to a nearby plant to create new bottles. Cardboard is sent to mills. Plastic wrapping is made into grist for composite decking at homes. And metals are taken to scrap yards for re-sale into global commodities markets.

The brewery in Golden is now the fifth of MillerCoors’ eight U.S. breweries to gain landfill-free status. According to the company, no other breweries in the U.S. have managed to achieve this milestone.

Like MillersCoors, Dolphin Blue is also strongly committed to sustainability. We only carry products that are made in the U.S. and are, at minimum, made of 20% post-consumer recycled material. We should all cheers MillerCoors for their green efforts and toast to their conscious capitalism. Visit the Dolphin Blue store to purchase eco-friendly products for home and office.

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Recycle, Reuse, Recaffeinate

Nothing says “welcome back to the work week” quite like an extra long line at your favorite coffee shop on Monday morning.  This could brighten your day: get a discount by bringing in your own reusable coffee mug or tumbler.  To curb the excessive waste caused by all the disposable coffee cups they sell, many coffee shops offer discounts to their eco-conscious customers.  Check out the infographic below to learn more and contact your local coffee hangout to find out what kind of discount you can get by bringing in your own cup.  The savings for your pocket book AND the environment can really add up.

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Infographic Friday: Aluminum Cans & Their Infinite Recyclability

Did you know you could keep recycling the soda can you’re drinking out of forever? Well, you CAN (get it?) and here are some reasons why you should:

  • It takes the same amount of energy to create 1 new can as it does to create 20 recycled cans
  • Even though it accounts for less than 2% of the weight of USA’s recycling stream, aluminum generates 40% of the revenue needed to sustain all recycling programs – about a $1 billion a year
  • Recycling aluminum cans diverted 1.7 billion pounds from landfills
  • Used aluminum cans are recycled and returned to store shelves in as few as 60 days
  • Aluminum never wears out and can be recycled forever

So make sure the next can you drink from ends up in a recycling bin and keep the infinite aluminum recycling process going strong!

If you’re looking to add more green to your life, check out www.dolphinblue.com today.
Aluminum can be recycled an infinite number of times.

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Infographic Friday: Sweden Wants Your Trash

All but 4% of the trash produced in Sweden bypasses the landfill and is either recycled or used as fuel in their waste-to-energy programs.  Sweden is able to generate 20% of the energy they need to heat the country and also provide electricity for 250,000 homes.  They’re so successful in their recycling and waste-to-energy programs, they’re actually running out of trash.

Sweden has begun to import tons of trash from neighboring countries in order to gather burnable waste so they can incinerate it and create energy.  Countries like Norway are paying them to take their waste, since it’s more expensive for the Norwegians to burn the trash in their own country and they lack recycling programs.

Waste-to-energy initiatives have been introduced in Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, and Lithuania.  In the USA, 67% of our waste ends up in landfills.  Hopefully someday, we can follow in the eco-friendly footsteps of our European friends.

Sweden burns trash to create about 20 percent of its heat, but the Swedes are so diligent about recycling that the country simply isn’t generating enough waste to create the heat they need.

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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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