10 Tips on How to Green Your Halloween

Halloween is that fun time of year when you can dress up as anything you like, decorate as crazy as you want, and eat as much candy as your heart desires. Dolphin Blue has pulled together 10 tips on how you can make sure this year’s Halloween is eco-friendly, fun, and safe for you and the environment!

1. Go Organic
When choosing the treats for all the brave kids that come to your door this Halloween, choose organic candy such as gummy bears or lollipops from companies like YummyEarth. Other great options for trick-or-treaters are LARABAR minis from Whole Foods, tasty Veggie Chips, or junior packs of organic nut butter such as Justin’s Nut Butter. You could also hit two birds with one stone by handing out organic chocolate squares like Endangered Species’ “Bug Bites” which feature educational insect trading cards and help to fund species and habitat conservation.

2. Choose Your Bag Wisely
Skip the impossible-to-recycle-cheap-plastic-pumpkin this year and opt for a reusable Halloween “ChicoBag” to store all of your night’s loot. This bag can hold up to 25 lbs of candy and fits into a small pouch so you can easily store it for next year’s outing. Another timeless green idea is to use a pillowcase to store all of your candy. But if you already have a plastic Halloween pumpkin from last year but it needs an update, don’t buy a new one. Just grab some non-toxic paint and give it a face-lift.

3. Remember the 3 R’s for Costumes
When you are choosing your costume this year remember to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Reduce waste from costume packaging and make your own outfit. It’s easy to make a 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, or even 90′s costume from clothes you already own. Or get together with friends and family and host a costume trade so you can reuse costumes that are old to your friend but new to you! You can also gather recyclable items such as cardboard, foil, and paper to make all sorts of great costumes. Remember to only use water-based face paint and to buy face masks made from natural latex.

4. Get Creative in the Yard
Don’t waste money on pricey lawn decorations that can be hard to recycle. Grab some black trash bags and fill them with leaves to make a giant lawn spider. You can also use old bed sheets stuffed with newspaper or leaves to create ghosts by tying them with a string to form a head. Hang them from your trees to create a spooky yard. Old black pantyhose or cotton balls can also make great, inexpensive spiderwebs!

5. Light the Way with Solar or LED
Solar-powered lamps are a great choice to light the path to your front door for all the ghosts and goblins that come knocking. You can also choose LED lights which last up to 133 times longer than incandescent and cost a fraction of the price. Solar and LED lights are much safer than candles or regular bulbs because they don’t generate heat so they won’t start fires or burn anyone that touches them.

6. Keep Your Monster Bash Eco-friendly
If you host a party this year make sure you use reusable plates and cups for your guests to reduce waste. If guests will be throwing away plastic cups, cans, or bottles make sure you set out recycling bins where they are easy to see and encourage party-goers to recycle. Browse our selection of eco-friendly plates and kitchenware to make green waves at your Halloween party!

7. Exorcise Energy Vampires
When your electronics and appliances are off but still plugged in they can drain energy and cost you hundreds of dollars every year on your energy bill. These “Energy Vampires” or “Phantom Loads” not only cost you money but they lead to unnecessary carbon emissions, which is scary! Before you leave the house to trick-or-treat, make sure to unplug any items that you won’t use while you are gone.

8. Skip the Car and Take a Walk
Instead of driving the kids around this year, choose to walk instead. Walking will allow you to get a great look at all the cute and creative costumes your neighbors have put together and you will get great exercise in the process (allowing you to eat more candy!) If you don’t plan on trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, park your car in a safe place and walk from there. Always remember to stick together and think about providing your little ones with rechargeable flashlights that run without batteries and provide bright LED light from a simple shake.

9. Donate the Day After
If you don’t plan on reusing your costume and it is not recyclable, think about donating it to a school theater program or community center. Odds are they will be able to give your costume new life through one of their productions or you’ll help some imaginative kids have a great drama class.

10. Don’t Trash Your Pumpkins
Pumpkins are one of the best parts about Halloween. Whether you carve them or just set them out on your porch for all to admire, make sure you don’t throw away your pumpkin after the festivities are over. Many people like to roast their pumpkins seeds or use the pumpkin innards in different tasty recipes. Your pumpkin can easily be composted. If you need advice on how to start your own compost pile, check out Dolphin Blue’s blog about it here.

Check the Dolphin Blue blog often for more eco-friendly tips and green news. We wish you all a happy, safe, and green Halloween!

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China is Drowning in Smog: One Man May Have the Solution


Air quality in China is bad, it’s really, really bad. The air quality is so poor that residents rarely see the sun and in some cities, the dense air pollution is mistaken for snow! What is causing all of the pollution? It’s coal-burning smog. And until China can ween itself from fossil fuels and implement more sustainable energy practices, other energy solutions are desperately needed. One designer named Daan Roosegaarde may have an ingenius solution.

Roosegaarde has an idea to create what he is calling an “electronic vacuum cleaner”. Copper Tesla coils buried underground would help to create an electrostatic field that would pull smog particles down from the polluted sky, creating a clear space above where sunlight could shine through.

His smog vacuum would attract pollution particles much like a strand of hair is pulled toward a statically charged balloon. Copper coils would create a field of static electric ions which would magnetize the smog, causing it to fall down to the ground below. Roosegaarde plans to capture all of the smog on the ground and compress it, hopefully making it easier to create awareness of how much smog residents are living with and to rally opposition to the causes of the polluted air.

This week Roosegaarde created a working prototype with the help of the University of Delft. They were able to take a 5×5 meter room full of smog and create a smog-free hole of one cubic meter with their device. Now the challenge is how to apply it on a grander scale. Roosegaarde would like to see it installed in parks and public spaces where everyone can enjoy a smog free sky.

Over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, Roosegaarde will be working to perfect his device and many will be watching, waiting, and hoping for his success. Roosegaarde acknowledges that the smog plaguing China is “a human problem not a technological problem” and he hopes that his smog-cleaning vacuum will help raise awareness off the issue while also taking a small step to make the air quality and quality of life a little better for the residents of China.

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Greenest Schools in America

What are a few things that come to mind when thinking of the “college experience?” Eating pizza six days a week? Writing papers the night they’re due? Those may be the more popularized experiences, but a college at its most basic is designed it to help its students learn and grow.  Some universities take this more literally than others.

Take Green Mountain College for example, #6 on Sierra Club’s 2013 list of Cool Schools. Its students were one of the first to help their college achieve climate neutrality, a truly impressive feat considering that climate neutrality means a carbon footprint of zero. This requires balancing any carbon output with an equivalent offset. It might seem simple at first, but what would this take? This would mean planting trees, reusing or recycling all trash, eating homemade produce, burning fossil fuels, and using wind or solar energy.  For Green Mountain College, they found 1.2 million kilowatt-hours in an unlikely source: cows.  Dickinson College, #2 on Sierra Club’s list, collects grease from local restaurants to turn it into biodiesel.  These colleges are taking advantage of the opportunity to craft and mold these creative young minds to tackle energy issues with their challenging and stringent sustainability courses.

However, not every sustainable solution is completely unique to each school, there are several practices that many universities share. For instance, many schools have campus-wide composting to reduce waste, enforce keeping paper and water waste low, and maintain cafeterias that serve student grown produce and utilize trayless dining. Also, many schools only build LEED Certified buildings, a certification that distinguishes a high performance green building. LEED takes many variables into account (sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, etc.) and provides a status level of Silver, Gold, or Platinum. Dickinson College only builds to LEED Gold standards.

Not only are these colleges making a positive impact on the environment, they are teaching responsible and accountable living as well as fostering a strong sense of community and teamwork. These are healthy, functional habits that a student can take and use for the rest of his or her life.  What are some of the ways you could practices what they preach? Take a look at our products to get a few ideas on how to take the first baby steps.

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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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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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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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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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