Party Time: How to throw the greenest bash on your block

Summer is in full swing, and the longer days and warm temps make now the perfect time to throw an outdoor soiree, whether a small patio gathering or an all-out block party. As you can probably guess, though, these kinds of events often produce a lot of waste — each year Americans toss out enough paper and plastic cups, forks, and spoons to circle the equator 300 times, says the Clean Air Council.

SeptPoolParty-2

But you don’t have to be a part of those negative statistics — green can be the theme of your party, or you can incorporate eco-friendly principles into an event of any kind. Here are some tips for a backyard bash sure to please Mother Earth:


Invitations

nlg_bbqpoolpartyIf the party is going to be casual, sending an online invite is a great way to save. Sites like Evite.com offer tons of options to suit any kind of soiree, and it takes just minutes to put together something nice, no design skills necessary. But if a printed piece of paper would be more appropriate for your occasion, look for recycled paper and soy-based inks, like the products offered by Dolphin Blue. One especially fun option is to get paper with seeds inside that can then be planted — it makes for an invite that your guests won’t soon forget and sets the tone for your green party. Check out Bloomin’s seed paper, which contain wildflower seeds in every sheet.

Food
Think local, local, local. Buying from a farmers market not only gives you the freshest food Preserve TableWarepossible, it also supports your local economy. Go organic when you can, and serve finger foods — that way you can cut down on the waste of disposable plates and silverware (if there’s no way to get around using throwaway items, go with a company like Preserve Tableware, which offers plates, tumblers, and cutlery made from 100 percent recycled plastic). Try these black bean and corn quesadillas from celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse; see more green recipes here.

If it’s a really big bash and you have tons of food left over, consider donating it to a food bank. Find one in your area at Feeding America’s site.

Décor and Centerpieces
Instead of using cut flowers in vases as a centerpiece, try potted plantsgrp_edr_centerpiece_april, which you can then keep or give to your guests as favors. Fruit (locally grown, of course) also makes for a fun decoration, and artfully arranging oranges, lemons, or limes in a centerpiece adds a bright pop of color to your table setting.

Even branches can make an elegant centerpiece (really!). If the party’s at night and you need a little light, try soy candles. Look around your house or backyard to see what you might have that would work — anything recycled is eco-friendly, and your creativity will be applauded by your guests.

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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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Really Make Your Lawn “Green”: Eco-Friendly Tips for a Sustainable Yard

Eco-Friendly Tips for a Sustainable YardThe most commonly irrigated crop—the plant that receives 4 billion gallons of potable water a day, the plant that the average American spends 150 hours a year tending, and the plant that North America alone spends $40,000,000,000 a year on—is not the crop that will feed the world. In fact, it is not a crop that will feed anybody, except maybe some lucky cows.

American’s lawns are often more trouble than they are worth. We spend so much time, effort, money, and resources on keeping our lawns green and kempt, yet lawns do not provide us with food, need poisons and fertilizers to grow well, and decrease the biodiversity of the area. Yet, in most residential neighborhoods, the dream of the perfect lawn doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Lawns are the norm. But, maybe it’s time to rethink this norm, or at least adjust our lawn practices to be more environmentally friendly and less work for you.

Some Alternatives to Lawns
These beautiful, healthy alternatives to a lawn can bring a sense of nature’s true beauty to your home.

  • Vegetable Gardens: For all the time you put into your yard, wouldn’t it be nice if you got something out of it? Replacing part or all of your lawn with a vegetable garden would grow food that could support you, your family, and even your community.
  • Native Plants: Growing a variety of plants that are native to your area instead of the monoculture of grass seeds we have today, will end up being less work for you! Native plants need less water and fertilizers, and they will create ecosystems for the local fauna to form a sturdy, healthy environment.

EPA Suggestions
If you’re not quite ready to uproot your whole lawn, but still want to have a healthier impact on your environment, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has these handy tips:

Mowing:

  • The ideal height for a lawn is generally 2 ½ to 3 inches. The taller the top of the grass, the longer the roots, making for a stronger, healthier grass that can absorb water much more easily and leaves no exposed dirt in which weeds can grow.
  • Use a push mower instead of the gas- or electric-powered kind that causes pollution.
  • After mowing, leave the grass clippings on the lawn as a fertilizer. Less work for you!

Watering:

  • Your lawn only needs 1 inch of water per week. You can measure this using an empty tuna can!
  • Water before 10:00AM so the grass has time to soak it all up. Perpetually wet grass grows fungi.
  • In July and August, let your lawn go brown. Brown lawns are dormant, not dead!
  • The best rule is to water only when the lawn begins to wilt from dryness—when the color dulls and footprints stay compressed for more than a few seconds.

Fertilizing:

  • If you must fertilize your lawn, remember that fertilizers are NOT water soluble! Fertilize right after it rains (not before) so the fertilizer stays on your lawn instead of running off and draining into our water sources.

An alternative to conventional, petroleum-based fertilizers are all-natural fertilizers like those that Dolphin Blue sells. Check out more ways you can make your life more environmentally friendly at dolphinblue.com!

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

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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: Buzzing Off, How Dying Bees Affects You

Honey bees are super pollinators and have an enormous impact on the environment.  Since the mid 2000′s their numbers have been declining rapidly. Scientist are unable to explain their disappearance but one thing is for certain, the absence of bees would leave much of the world’s food supply in question. Without pollinating insect life, fruits, vegetables, and field crops would be obsolete causing extreme hardship for the farm and food industry and leaving their future, and our survival, in question.

See the infographic below to find out more about why honey bees are so important to us and what you can do to save them.

How the disappearance of bees will affect you.

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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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Earth Watch: Right Whales Need Your Help Right Now

The North Atlantic Right Whale is bigger than a humpback whale and longer than a Greyhound Bus. At present, they are among the most endangered whales in the world with their numbers dwindling to about 350 worldwide. Even though they are protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act, there is a new threat to their survival.

North Atlantic Right Whales

North Atlantic Right Whale mother and calf swim together off the coast of southern Georgia.

In August 2009, the U.S. Navy announced that it would construct its Undersea Warfare Training Range near the only known calving ground for the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. Right whales gather in their calving grounds off southern Georgia and northern Florida each winter through spring to give birth and raise their calves. It is designated as a critical habitat for the species yet the Navy plans to build a $100 million offshore training range and install an undersea array of cables and sensors for training warships, submarines and aircraft. In 2012, environmentalists sued to block the project, citing its proximity to the endangered whales’ calving grounds, but Judge Lisa Godbey Wood ruled in favor of the Navy even though they had not completed required environmental studies on whether operating the range would harm right whales and other endangered species.

Ship strikes and fishing gear entanglement accounted for nearly half of all North Atlantic right whale deaths for the past 40 years but the U.S. Navy brings with it an even greater threat. They plan to perform sonar tests that pose a great danger to both North Atlantic Right Whale populations and more than 40 marine mammal species. Sonar may not sound dangerous, but it could prove deadly for right whales. The sonar used by the Navy generates a high level noise that is used to locate modern hidden submarines. Whales and dolphins are especially receptive to this sonar because they possess a special organ near their brain that allows for the use of low level sonar to travel and communicate via echo-location. However, the military’s sonar is so intense that it can cause this special organ to begin bleeding and eventually lead to the animal’s death. Whales and dolphins beach themselves when they come into contact with the high level military sonar in an effort to escape the painful and damaging effect. Even at 300 miles away, sonar can reach a level of 140 decibels—100 times louder than the communications used by marine life.

Neptune Park, St. Simons, GA

North Atlantic Right Whales hold a special place in the hearts of Georgia residents as their state mammal. In Neptune Park, off the coast of St. Simons, Georgia, children play every day on a large playground sculpture of a mother right whale and her calf. Unfortunately, this sculpture sits near the newest threat to their survival.

In 2005, more than 30 whales were found beached in North Carolina after military exercises using sonar were conducted by the USS Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Battle Group. Necropsies on the beached whales found bleeding from the ears and brain after just a few days of sonar exposure. According to the Navy, their new Undersea Warfare Training Range would be used for anti-submarine warfare training for periods up to 6 hours about 470 times a year. The simulated warfare would use submarines, surface ships and aircraft, and would include the use of torpedoes and sonar.

Exposing endangered, sensitive marine life to threats from sonar and explosives is unnecessary. The time has come for the Navy to adopt common-sense measures that would protect the North Atlantic Right Whale and all marine mammals during routine training. It is possible to protect these ocean creatures without compromising our military readiness. The Navy could choose to avoid key habitats where right whales are known to migrate and raise their young or they could use satellite technology that is harmless to sea life instead of deadly sonar.

WHAT CAN YOU DO? Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and their partners have filed an appeal brief with the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Atlanta asking a federal court to overturn Judge Lisa Godbey Wood’s ruling allowing the U.S. Navy to build their Undersea Warfare Training Range close to waters where endangered right whales give birth and raise their calves. The SELC has successfully gone up against the U.S. Navy in previous wildlife protection cases.

The next court ruling in this case will be decided the week of July 15th. Our goal is to help educate as many people as we can about the details regarding Naval sonar use and the threats against our friends in the sea. Below we’ve listed some ways that you can get involved and make your voice heard. Please act right now to help protect the right whale and all the treasured marine life near this proposed military area.

Ways You Can Help & Learn More:

  • Sign the petition to U.S. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, calling on him to put safeguards in place that will safeguard whales from the deadly impact of the Navy’s sonar in military training and testing: Click Here
  • Share this information with your friends on Facebook, Twitter and through Email
  • Stay updated and learn more on Southern Environmental Law Center’s case page: Click Here
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Heroes of Sustainability: George Washington Carver

                                                                      
In an era long before green, eco-friendly, and environmentalism were buzzwords, George Washington Carver advocated for organic farming and plant-based products.

An early trailblazer in the concept of reducing, reusing, and recycling, Carver was born into slavery, likely in the early to mid-1860s.

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

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