Beware the Dirty Dozen

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Personal care products have become a necessity in our daily lives. On average, people can use up to 15-20 cosmetic products a day; shampoo, conditioner, lotion, mouthwash, makeup, etc.

U.S. researchers have reported that one eighth (10,250) of the 82,000 ingredients used in our personal care products are industrial chemicals, including carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins and hormone disruptors. These ingredients and chemicals can be easily consumed or absorbed into our bodies.

On average, a women who uses lipstick every day can ingest from 4 to 7 pounds of lipstick in her lifetime.

The Story of Cosmetics- The Story of Cosmetics, released on July 21st, 2010, examines the pervasive use of toxic chemicals in our everyday personal care products, from lipstick to baby shampoo.

Here we have gathered the Dirty Dozen toxic chemicals that you should know and avoid. (When talking about cosmetics, we are not just talking about makeup.Cosmetics refer to all personal products you put on your body.)

BHA (butylated hydroxyanisole) and BHT (butylated hydroxytoluene) are related to synthetic antioxidants used as preservatives in lipsticks, moisturizers, etc.

They can induce allergic reactions in the skin and have been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer as a possible human carcinogen.

Although BHT has been listed as safe for humans, the Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic has listed BHA as a chemical of potential concern with its toxicity to aquatic organisms and potential to bioaccumulate.

hair-shampooCoal Tar dyes are recognized as a human carcinogen and can be found in dandruff shampoos, anti-itch creams, toothpaste, mouthwash, hair dyes and other products.

They are listed as “FD&C Blue No. 1” or “Blue 1”. (FD&C indicates the color has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in foods, drugs and cosmetics and “D&C” colors indicate they have not been approved for use in food.)

DEA (diethanolamine) can affect hormones; deplete the body of choline needed for fetal brain development. They can be found in soaps, cleansers and shampoos to make cosmetics more creamy or sudsy.

Exposure to high doses of DEA-related ingredients has been shown to cause liver cancer and precancerous changes in skin and thyroids. They can also cause mild to moderate skin and eye irritation.

nail-polish-fumesDBP (Dibutyl phthalate) can be found in nail products as a solvent for dyes and as a plasticizer that prevents nail polishes from becoming brittle.

It is absorbed through the skin and can enhance the capacity of other chemicals to cause genetic mutations. DBP can cause developmental defects, change in the testes and prostate and reduced sperm counts.

The European Union classifies this chemical to be very toxic to aquatic organisms; it is listed as a Chemical for Priority Action.

Formaldehyde can be found in baby bath soap, nail polish, eyelash adhesive and hair dyes as a contaminant or breakdown product of diazolidinyl urea, imidazolidinyl urea, methenamine, quaternium compounds.

It has been classified, by the International Agency of Research on Cancer, as a known human carcinogen. Small amounts of formaldehyde may off-gas from cosmetics and cause skin and eye irritation and trigger allergic reactions.

Parabens (methylparaben, butylparaben and propylparaben) are common preservatives found in toiletries and cosmetics, an estimated 75%-90% of cosmetics contain parabens.

They can penetrate the skin and are suspected of interfering with hormone function. Methylparaben applied on our skin reacts with UVB leading to increased skin aging and DNA damage. It has been estimated that women are exposed to 50mg per day of parabens from cosmetics.

1110-green-perfumeParfum (fragrance) in cosmetics usually represents a complex mixture of chemicals, over 3000 of the chemicals used are manufactured synthetic fragrances.

Parfum can be found in nearly every personal care product out there in the market, from cosmetics to toilet paper. It can trigger allergies, migraines and asthma symptoms.

Even fragrance-free or unscented products contain parfum ingredients as a form of masking agents that prevent the brain from perceiving the odor.

PEGs (polyethylene glycols) are used as thickeners, solvents, softeners and moisture carriers in cosmetics.

PEGS may be contaminated with measurable amounts of 1,4-dioxane, which is classified as a possible human carcinogen. Although 1,4-dioxane can be removed from cosmetics during the manufacturing process by vacuum stripping there is no way for consumers to know if the product containing PEGS have actually undergone this process.

Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly or petroleum jelly and is used as moisturizer and in hair shine products.

Petroleum products can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs can be associated with cancer, skin irritation and allergies.

Siloxanes (cyclotetrasiloxane, cyclopentasiloxane, cyclohexasiloxane and cyclomethicone) are silicone-based compounds used in cosmetics to soften, smooth and moisten. They make products like deodorant creams slide on easily and dry quickly.

Cyclotetrasiloxane and cylcopentasiloxane also known as D4 and D5 are toxic endocrine disruptors, interfere with human hormone function and possible reproductive toxicants that may impair human fertility, cause uterine tumors and harm the reproductive and immune systems.

Cyclohexasiloxane (D6) is persistent and has the potential to bioaccumulate.

Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) is used as a cleansing agent in cosmetics and a foaming agent or detergent found in shampoos, bubble bath products, household and utensil cleaning detergents.

SLES is a possible human carcinogen and can even cause harm to the nervous system, It can also irritate the skin and eyes.

child-applying-hand-sanitizerTriclosan is mainly used in antiperspirants, cleansers and hand sanitizers as a preservative and an anti-bacterial agent.

It can pass through skin and is suspected of interfering with hormone function, it may also contribute to antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Triclosan doesn’t easily degrade and can build up in our environment after being rinsed down the drain.

You can learn a lot by reading the labels on the products you buy. We should arm ourselves with knowledge not just for our well-being but for the well-being of our families and our environment.

Don’t depend on the tempting ads given to you, depend on yourself and look for alternative organic and natural methods for your personal care.

The Suzuki Foundation has a great guide on how to avoid the Dirty Dozen from your everyday cosmetics.whats-inside-shoppers-guideDownload pdf here: http://www.davidsuzuki.org/publications/downloads/2010/whats-inside-shoppers-guide.pdf

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4 Reasons On Why You Should Grow Your Own Fruits and Vegetables

home-vegetable-gardens-iv3cxjqhYou’ve probably thought about it before. The thought crosses your mind countless times, “I can totally build my own garden,” and you can, you can totally build your very own garden at home. Why aren’t you?

Sure, growing veggies and fruits may seem a little overwhelming at first, especially if you have never planted or watered a plant in your life, but it’s actually much simpler than it sounds. You can’t expect it all to be grand and great at first, there are going to be a few trial and errors. Will it be worth it? Yes, it’s most definitely going to be worth it.

Here are some reasons on why you should stop thinking about it and start growing!

fruitcage_2519133c1.) It’s good for you.

Gardening can be a great form for exercise; planting, weeding, watering and harvesting, and can also reduce your stress and decrease depression.

Growing your own fruits and vegetables can reduce your exposure to pesticides, making them healthier than produce bought fruits and veggies.  They’ll be fresh and rich in nutrients, anti-oxidants, vitamin C, vitamin A and folate.

2.) Good for the environment

Plants can improve the air quality around you and with proper placement a garden can help keep your home cool during the summer and warm during the winter.

You’ll reduce your carbon footprint by not buying produce that has travelled long distances, reducing fossil fuels and the pollution from the transportation.

3.) Reduce waste

Instead of buying more than what you need in order to get a better deal and later throwing away the amount you couldn’t use, you’ll be planting and growing “your own” food and thus you’ll be more unwilling to toss out “your own” produce.

2011-07-07 pc beans, strawberries,kefir14.) Self-satisfaction and Pride

Watching the very first seed sprout and later watching your entire garden flourish with fruits and veggies will bring you great satisfaction. Bask in the glory that is your amazing garden, it took a while but you got there. Eating your very first fruit from your garden and have the sweetness and freshness overwhelm you with joy and pride.

For natural and organic fertilizers check out Neptune’s Harvest. It’s 100% organic and safe for the environment.

We also offer Seedballz, they’re unique and grow in clusters rather than single seeds!

Have a compost near your garden! Composting can be a natural way to dispose of organic waste by breaking down organic material and transforming it into a rich nutrient soil additive. Read our “How To Start Your Own Compost Pile” blog post to get started!

We also have great tips on keeping your garden pest free. 6 Natural Ways to Keep Your Home & Garden Pest Free

For tips on how to make your lawn more eco-friendly check out, Really Make Your Lawn “Green”: Eco-Friendly Tips for a Sustainable Yard blog post.

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Flame Retardants

home-interior-decorating-80In the month of June, Kaiser Permanente, one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health care systems, announced that they will stop using upholstered furniture treated with toxic flame retardants chemicals in their hospitals, medical offices and other buildings. Kaiser Permanente has set an example for everyone, they want manufacturers to switch to more sustainable and environmentally friendly products and this will not happen unless we, the consumers, demand a change.

What are Flame retardants?

Flame retardants are compounds added to manufactured materials, such as plastics and textiles, and surface finishes and coatings that inhibit, suppress, or delay the production of flames to prevent the spread of fire.

Today, flame retardants are used predominantly in four major areas:

  • Electronics
  • Building insulation
  • Polyurethane foam
  • Wire and cable

The two types of flame retardants that cause concerns are; halogenated flame retardants containing chlorine or bromide bonded to carbon and organophosphorous flame retardants containing phosphorous bonded to carbon.

Video Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune

Why are Flame retardants a big deal?

The chemicals don’t break down and generally have long term effects rather than immediate effects and can build up in humans and animals. They are not bound to the foam and can settle into the dust around our homes. Flame retardants have become so pervasive they can now be found in meats, fish, and dairy products.

Image from Green Science Policy Insitute

Flame retardants have been linked to male infertility, birth defects, cancer, reduced IQ’s and other health problems.

Children can carry an average of three times the levels of flame retardants in their bodies than the levels found in their mother. How you ask? Simply put, children spend their time putting their hands, toys, anything they seem fit in their mouths and unintentionally ingest more flame retardant chemicals from the dust.

Do they prevent fire from spreading? 

Flame retardants do not increase overall fire safety. Even though they can delay ignition for a few seconds in products, they will eventually burn and produce toxic gases that cause most fire injuries and deaths.

What can we do?

Keep your home dust free. The Natural Resources Defense Council has some helpful tips on what you can do to reduce flame retardants in your home and your body.

  • Vacuum carpets with a vacuum that contains a HEPA filter.
  • Damp mop floors and damp dust furniture on a regular basis.
  • Wash hands frequently, especially before eating. Don’t eat on your couch!
  • Choose naturally flame resistant fabrics and fill such as wool, cotton or jute.
  • Call manufacturers to ask about their use of flame retardants.
  • Check the label before you buy upholstered furniture and if you live outside of California, don’t buy furniture that carries a TB 117 label.
  • Vacuum and wipe down your car’s interior regularly.
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What is a Carbon Footprint?

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Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds we produce as individuals, groups, etc., due to consumption of fossil fuels. The greater your carbon footprint is the more affect you have on our planet.

Carbon dioxide is released when we burn carbon based fuels such as:

  • Petrol and diesel- from our cars
  • Gas, oil and coal- from our homes and power plants
  • Jet fuel- from airplanes

How long is Carbon dioxides lifetime?

Carbon dioxide is not destroyed over time, instead it moves amount different parts of the ocean, atmosphere and land system. Some excess carbon dioxide will be absorbed by the ocean surface but some will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years because the process by which carbon is transferred to ocean sediments is very slow.

Watch this 2 minute video explaining carbon footprint.

Why is it important to be aware of your carbon footprint?

We all indirectly and directly impact our environment. A direct impact can be your day-to-day transportation and use of electricity in your home. While an indirect impact can be how far did the fruit you bought at the grocery store travel before it was consumed.

It’s great to know just how much a simple choice in your daily life can impact our planet. The more you know the more you can grow.

How can we reduce our personal carbon footprint?

  • Opt for riding your bike or walking when possible
  • Reduce the amount of trash you use
  • Recycle anything that can be recycled
  • Use renewable energy sources
  • Conserve electricity and heating
  • Use energy efficient appliances, Energy Star appliances
  • Conserve water; shorter showers!
  • Buy locally made products
  • Vacation closer to home
  • Proper insulation for your home
  • Plant trees!

Carbon Footprint Calculators

The Nature Conservancy’s -estimates how many tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases your choices create each year.

EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM)- helps solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy savings from several different waste management practices.

EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator-This calculator may be useful in communicating your greenhouse gas reduction strategy, reduction targets, or other initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

My Footprint-estimates the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your wastes on an annual basis.

Paper Calculator- premier tool for measuring the environmental impacts of paper and discovering the best paper choices

 

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Infographic Friday: Lead in Toys

Infographic Friday: Lead in Toys

Lead poisoning shows no obvious symptoms but with prolonged exposure of lead it can affect a child’s brain, nervous system, heart, and red blood cells. In some extreme cases lead poisoning can cause seizures, comas and death. Children between the ages of 1-6 are at risk of being diagnosed with lead poisoning because they spend majority of their time on the floor putting their hands, toys and other objects in their mouths. Since lead poisoning shows no outer symptoms the only way to find out the amount of lead in your child’s system is to go to a doctor and get a blood test especially if your child has the habit of chewing their toys.

The United States banned the use of lead in children’s products, house paint, children’s toys and household dishes in 1978. However the importation from other countries that still use lead paint and plastics for various products still exists. In recent years the United States has limited the concentration of lead in children’s toys, furniture and other products to .009% (90 parts per million) in lead paint and any other similar surface coating. The only exception is bicycles which are required to have no more than 300ppm of total lead content. Other items such as jewelry, key chains and charms may also contain lead. Swallowing any of these items can also lead to acute lead poisoning or death.

There are in-home lead tests available that can help parents test their children’s toys. It’s not entirely reliable since it can only detect high amounts of lead on the surface but cannot detect lows amount of lead below the surface.

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) has released Trouble in Toyland, the complete list of 2013 toys deemed dangerous for small children. Click the link below to view the news report and list of toys deemed dangerous:

http://www.coloradonewsday.com/national/30019-2013-list-of-dangerous-toys-sends-warning-to-parents-this-christmas.html

Dolphin Blue sells toys that are produced without lead paint as they are made without any external coating.  They are also made in the USA!

Just click on the link below to go directly to our toy page:

http://www.dolphinblue.com/made-in-the-usa-green-toys-eco-friendly-children-toys.html

If your child’s toy has been recalled remove the item from the child immediately.

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Why BPA-Free is the Way to Be

By now you’ve probably heard about BPA and how you should avoid it or you’ve seen products advertise that they’re BPA free. But what exactly is BPA and why is it dangerous?

Bisphenol A (BPA) is a chemical found in hard plastics and the coatings of food and drink cans. It is used to make water bottles, baby bottles, medical and dental devices, electronics, sports equipment, and more.

When absorbed into the body, BPA can imitate hormones such as estrogen and have hazardous effects on health. In a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they found that 95% of adult and 93% of child urine samples contained traces of BPA. The US Endocrine Society has expressed public concern over the amount of BPA humans are currently exposed to.

Keep reading to learn about the possible health hazards of BPA.

  • Scientists have shown that BPA can cause reproductive disorders by affecting egg quality and egg maturation
  • Impotence has been linked to BPA exposure among men
  • Scientists at the University of Cincinnati reported that BPA can cause heart disease in women and may reduce the efficiency of chemotherapy treatment
  • Researchers in California have shown that BPA exposure has been linked to type 2 diabetes
  • A study by the Yale School of Medicine found a possible increase in breast cancer risk among women who had been exposed to BPA in the womb

Everyone is susceptible to the hazards of BPA but babies and children are the most sensitive so its very important to limit their exposure to the chemical. Dolphin Blue has always ensured that our toys are healthy for the environment and healthy for kids. Our Green Toys are made from recycled milk containers and are BPA free.

When you’re shopping this holiday season be sure to check packaging on all toys and kitchen products to ensure they’re BPA free and safe for your loved ones!

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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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Natural Remedies From Your Kitchen Cabinet

Instead of taking medicine the next time you have a headache or heartburn, try some natural remedies that you can find in your kitchen at home! Some of the same herbs and spices that you use to flavor your meals can be useful as natural health treatments. Keep reading for natural ways to fix heartburn, headaches, and more.

For Heartburn
Ease the burning with turmeric. This ancient spice is a key ingredient in curry and can help stimulate the digestive system to prevent acid buildup. Add turmeric to your next meal or try taking it in capsule form before eating.

For Headaches
If you have a splitting headache, try brewing a cup of rosemary tea. Rosemary helps to keep blood vessels dilated. Add 1 teaspoon of rosemary per cup of hot water, cover it, and steep for 10 minutes. Strain and enjoy a cup three times a day.

You can also use ginger to alleviate headaches. Ginger inhibits thromboxane A2 which prevents the release of substances that cause blood vessels to dilate. It can help keep blood flowing in order to prevent migraines. For a quick kitchen cure, grate fresh ginger into juice or water, chew on Japanese pickled ginger, use fresh or powdered ginger on your meals, or nibble on a piece of crystallized ginger candy.

For Sinus Pain or Pressure
When your mucus is clear or white, you should seek a drying herb such as thyme. Thyme is a strong antiseptic and is a traditional remedy for respiratory infections. To enjoy a cup of thyme tea, steep 1 to 2 teaspoons of dried thyme in a cup of boiling water for about 10 minutes, three times a day.

For Insect Bites or Stings
Use a drop of peppermint essential oil on the center of a bite or sting to cause quick, cooling relief. Peppermint helps to increase blood flow to the bite or sting area so you suffer from less swelling and itching. Remember to always wash your hands when handling essential oils and keep them away from your eyes. (Poisonous spider or snake bites require immediate medical attention.)

For Toothaches
Rub a drop of clove essential oil directly on an aching tooth for pain relief. If you don’t have oil of clove available you can also rub a whole clove, flower end pointed down, next to your tooth for the same effect.

Sesame seeds are also known for being pain-relievers. You can boil one part sesame seeds with three parts water until the liquid is reduced by half. Cool the water and apply it directly to your aching tooth.

For Cold and Flu
For quick and convenient relief from your next cold or flu, combine 1 oz of sliced fresh ginger, 1 broken-up cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon coriander seeds, 3 whole cloves, 1 lemon slice, and 1 pint water. Simmer for 15 minutes, strain, then drink a hot cupful every 2 hours.

Check back often for more natural, eco-friendly tips from Dolphin Blue!

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6 Natural Ways to Keep Your Home & Garden Pest Free

Catnip

Most cats adore catnip but this herb has been found to be very effective in repelling mosquitoes.

There are many ways to keep your home and garden pest free this summer without the use of harmful chemicals found in common pesticides. Check out Dolphin Blue‘s eco-friendly solutions below and let us know what you think!

  • Basil. Keep flies away by planting this great smelling herb in small pots along windowsills and doorways. Don’t forget to keep some of your basil in the kitchen in case you need to add some to your next meal.
  • Catnip. Add some of your cat’s favorite plant to your garden to keep mosquitoes away. Studies have shown that catnip can repel mosquitoes more effectively than the controversial pesticide DEET. You can also crush the leaves and rub them directly on your skin for added protection.
  • Citrus. Mix fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juice with water and spray along your windowsills and doorways to keep out pesky spiders. Spread the remaining citrus peels out in your garden to keep spiders at bay.
  • Vinegar. Fill a small dish with vinegar, a few drops of liquid dishwashing soap, and water to trap and kill fruit flies. You can also use vinegar to create a 1:1 solution of vinegar and water to wipe along surfaces in order to destroy the scent trails that ants use to navigate.
  • Cinnamon Bark Oil. Mix several drops of this essential oil in a 1:1 solution of water and denatured alcohol to help control dust mites in your home. Spray the mixture wherever dust collects.
  • Irish Spring Soap. You can hang, spike or sprinkle this soap near the areas of your yard that fall prey to hungry deer. They don’t like the smell and will stay away from your tasty lettuce, beans, and pansies.

Dolphin Blue’s lawn and garden section is ripe with sustainable products for your indoor and outdoor garden. Check them out on DolphinBlue.com!

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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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