Love the Planet on the Day of Love

Flowers for V-Day can be great — if you know they’re green. Photo: Flickr/Ralph Daily

Flowers for V-Day can be great — if you know they’re green. Photo: Flickr/Ralph Daily

Sure, all the hearts and cupid’s arrows are meant for people, but you can make sure the planet gets some love, too, with these tips for an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day:

1. Think local. Flowers are a sweet way to tell someone you care about them. However, buying cut flowers from the supermarket may not be as environmentally friendly as you think — big flower companies don’t always grow their flowers sustainably and may use a ton of pesticides. A great green option is buying local, organically grown flowers from your neighborhood farmers market or locally sourced flower shop.

The same goes for planning a nice dinner at home. Grab ingredients from local providers and skip the hustle and bustle of a night on the town with a meal of fresh food. If cooking’s not your cup of tea, find sustainable restaurants nearby with the help of Eat Well Guide.

The Love Birds Seed Paper Keepsake Card is available at Dolphin Blue.

The Love Birds Seed Paper Keepsake Card is available at Dolphin Blue.

2. Give a card that represents your blossoming love. Long after the day is over, the Love Birds Seed Paper Keepsake Card will serve as a reminder of your devotion. Each card is made of plantable seed paper and includes a removable, 100 percent recycled printed insert so the recipient can keep your special message while enjoying the wildflowers that bloom.

3. Make a handmade gift from the heart. Instead of buying an impersonal box of chocolates or stuffed animal, strive to make all of your gifts yourself this year using materials you already have on hand. Handmade V-Day gifts are also a great activity for kids.

4. Spend the day in nature. A date in the great outdoors is always one you can appreciate — just think about how a hike to a beautiful vista, complete with a romantic picnic, will enchant your athletic sweetie. Spend your evening watching the sunset, sipping on a local fine wine, and gazing at the stars together. Mother Earth would be proud.

Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, S.C., features 100 solar panels. Photo: Proximity Hotel

Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, S.C., features 100 solar panels. Photo: Proximity Hotel

5. Take a sustainable getaway. If you want to escape for the weekend, do your homework to find an eco-friendly resort or hotel to stay at. You might even be lucky enough to live near one of these 30 gorgeous eco-hotels.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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How to say ‘I Heart U’ and the USA too this Valentines

valentinesValentine’s Day is approaching fast! This year rather than going to your local neighborhood store and buying the generic card and gift why not consider purchasing a gift that shows how much you love your partner and your country. Put your money to good use by buying from small businesses and purchasing made in America products. Buy them a gift that has great quality instead of purchasing it for its sweet deal. If you still have no idea what to buy, we here at Dolphin Blue have you covered! Don’t limit yourself to only buying these products, there are tons and tons of other made in America products out there just for this special occasion!

Here are some great American-made gift ideas to help you keep your Valentine’s Day Made in the USA:

  •  Valentine’s Day cards! Dolphin Blue has the Love Birds Seed Paper Keepsake Card. This card is made from seed paper, so after the recipient removes the insert with your message they can plant the card and enjoy flowers for months to come!

card

  • Bissinger’s Chocolates: Delicious chocolates and marshmallows made by hand and use high-quality cocoa beans, made in St. Louis, MO.

chocolates

  • OM Cocktails is a USDA certified cocktail and is the first of its kind! It’s made with certified organic ingredients and contains no artificial flavors or preservatives!If you’re more of a wine person, buy from your local wineries. You can go to All American Wineries and search for all the wineries that are near your area.

cocktail

  • Who doesn’t love cute and cuddly bears for valentines? Give your loved one a snugly Vermont Teddy Bear for Valentine’s Day!

Vermont Bear

  • For the risky buyers, Hanky Panky has been proudly making lingerie in the USA since 1977. They’re top of the line when it comes to lingerie and lets not forget their unique bouquet of thong roses! 

flowers

 

  • If you want to be completely out of the box then dedicate a tree to someone! Our Tree Planting Gift is a special and unique gift you can give to your partner, family member or a friend.

treeplanting__71852.1355855122.400.350

Make this the most memorable year for both you and your sweetheart and have fun shopping for products made in the USA for Valentine’s Day! 

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Recycle Your Christmas Tree

Christmas Tree

Real Christmas trees are biodegradable; they can be reused or recycled for mulch, sand and soil erosion barriers and are placed in ponds for fishes to use as shelter. Here are some great recycling options for your real Christmas tree.

Drop off Recycling Centers:  It’s no charge and you can usually take up to two trees to a drop-off location. Some centers might charge commercial/business drop offs depending on load length. Drop off centers require that you remove all tinsel, ornaments, lights, nails and tree stands before dropping off your tree.

Curbside Pick-up: Most cities will collect trees during the two weeks following Christmas. Some curbside programs might have a certain size limit along with requiring you to remove all ornaments from the tree. Flocked and artificial trees will not be accepted.

Mulching Programs: The Mulching Programs shred the trees, turning them into mulch to use in gardens. Check your local department of public works for more information.

Nonprofit Pick-up: You can call a local nonprofit organization to pick up your tree.

Never burn your Christmas tree! The firs and pines of the trees have a lot of sap, which can explode!

You can go to Earth911 to check on curbside pick-ups and local Christmas tree recycling events.

 

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Ecofriendly Holiday Decorating Tips

It’s easy to go overboard buying new decorations when the excitement and anticipation of Christmas sets in. Instead of purchasing new decorations that may be thrown out after Santa returns to the North Pole, check out our eco-friendly holiday decorating guide for simple tips to make the season extra green.

Keep It Real
When it comes to your Christmas tree, just say “no” to artificial firs. Artificial trees can’t be recycled, are often made of harmful chemicals, and take up a lot of unnecessary space in landfills. Try a pine tree from your local tree farm instead. These trees are replanted every year so you’re not negatively impacting the forest. And many counties offer tree recycling locations where your retired tree can be turned into mulch or wood chips for gardens and hiking paths.

Living trees are another great option for the eco-conscious decorator. Many local nurseries keep a variety of evergreens on hand to be kept in a pot during the holidays and then planted in the yard afterwards.

Let LED Light the Way
Switch out your old strands of incandescent bulbs for energy efficient LED lights! LED lights can last up to 25 times as long as incandescent bulbs! They’re also extremely durable and don’t emit any heat, thus eliminating the holiday fire hazard. Although LEDs have been expensive in years past, prices have decreased and many styles of LEDs are now available from most local hardware stores and retailers.

Don’t forget about LED candles to add that special touch to kid and pet friendly holiday centrepieces. Lightweight and reusable LED candles are made from wax just like a real candle. Some even flicker without the flame and can last up to 1,000 hours.

Homemade is the Best Adjective
Instead of buying a wreath that might get tossed in trash later, create your own with old fabric by following this simple DIY guide. You can also make your mantle look fabulous with a homemade stocking! Check out these cute DIY Christmas stocking projects using recycled materials. But don’t stop there! Why not create your own ecofriendly ornament? Browse these creative, ecofriendly ornaments for inspiration and start crafting your own.

Look Local
Ditch the typical big box retail stores and opt to buy your holiday decorations from a local source. Check out a local craft show or swap meet. Browse your classified listings for holiday decorations or check esty.com for nearby artists.

If you want to keep it local and save a lot of money, take a walk outside. Pine cones, cinnamon sticks, pumpkins, gourds, fallen branches, pomegranates, cranberries and citrus fruits are all beautiful, seasonal items that you can use to decorate your home with.

Let us know what your favorite ecofriendly holiday decorations are and keep making green waves!

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Giving Thanks: Celebrate Thanksgiving by giving back to Mother Earth

The Pilgrims may have traveled quite a distance to celebrate the first Thanksgiving, but their food didn’t. They learned to source their sustenance locally, a tough task in a new world, and they celebrated with a feast that eventually turned into modern-day Thanksgiving.

Getting food today doesn’t require nearly as much work for most of us as it did for those Pilgrims in the 1600′s, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about where it’s coming from.

Dinner’s Ready
Concerned about the way animals are treated? Try celebrating this year vegetarian-style. There are so many yummy meat-free foods at Thanksgiving, you may not even miss it. But if the big feast just won’t be the same without a bird on the table, look for pasture-raised, free-range turkey. This tells you that the animal lived outside, without harmful chemicals and hormones pumped into its body. Here are some other labels, classified by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, to look for when buying food:

A GOOD Start
“Cage free” (eggs)
“Free range” (eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey)
“Grass fed” (dairy, beef, lamb)

The “Good Start” labels indicate a meaningful animal welfare standard, but the standard covers only one aspect of animal care, and compliance with the standard is not verified by a third party.

Even BETTER
“Free range” (beef, bison, pork, lamb)
“Pasture raised” (dairy, eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork)
“USDA Organic” (dairy, eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork)

The “Even Better” labels generally indicate a higher level of animal welfare because the standards are more meaningful than those for the “Good Start” labels, but the standards are either not verified by a third party or cover only a limited aspect of animal care.

The BEST Options
“Certified Humane” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork)
“American Humane Certified” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork)
“Animal Welfare Approved” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, beef, lamb, pork, rabbit)

The “Best Options” labels cover multiple aspects of animal care, and compliance with the standards is verified by an independent third party.

To get your local store to carry products with these labels, just ask. Have your friends do the same, and the store will likely listen. You can download a request card to put in a store’s comment box or mail to its headquarters.

The Ambiance
Decorate your table not with cheesy Thanksgiving-print napkins and paper plates but with pumpkins, gourds, apples, and all the other wonderful edible treats the fall season has to offer. If the thought of doing all those dishes makes you want to scrap the holiday altogether, try Preserve Tableware, an environmentally friendly alternative to the disposable stuff. The dishes and cutlery are made from 100 percent recycled plastic and are strong enough to be reused dozens of times (or just recycled when you’re done).

Top off the look with soy candles and a few sprigs of pine, and you’ll have authentic decor that would make even those who came over on the Mayflower proud.

When It’s Over
After the meal’s done and the leftovers picked through, compost the rest. Of the waste Americans send to landfills, 24 percent of it is organic waste (i.e., kitchen scraps). Keeping that waste out of landfills saves space and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, making it a win-win however you look at it. Making your own compost is easy!

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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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Buy “Made in the USA” This Labor Day!

As we celebrate the economic and social contributions of American workers this Labor Day, it’s important to remember the reasons why purchasing products that are “Made In America” is so vital to the success of the American economy and to the American worker. Dolphin Blue only carries products “Made in the USA” and has high standards for environmental sustainability. Keep reading to learn the top ten reasons why it is important to support your economy and buy “Made in the USA”!

10. To Support Safer Working Conditions

American labor and safety laws not only support American manufacturers, they ensure that American workers are provided with safe working conditions. When you buy American made products you support safe working conditions and important child labor laws.

9. To Support Growth of the American Economy

When you spend your money at companies that offer products that are Made In America, they have a higher likelihood of spending those dollars on goods and services that benefit the American economy. Those companies are more likely to hire local employees and use local services such as banks, printing services, shipping, etc. That money spent on local businesses by local businesses is then circulated within the community. Jobs that are shipped overseas rarely come back to the USA. In order to build an economy where our children are more likely to find quality employment, it is important to purchase Made In America products that help keep jobs and companies in the USA.

8. To Protect the Environment

Manufacturing processes in the USA are usually better for the environment than some in other countries with less environmental protections in place. Some products that are produced in other countries and shipped to America are manufactured using dangerous polluting processes and chemicals. And when products are Made in the USA, they travel shorter distances to get to you which means less fossil-fuels were needed! Purchasing American-made products help to protect the environment and keep the world cleaner for future generations.

7. To Support Fair Wages

When you choose products made in the USA, you support fair wages and the laws put in place to protect them. Many countries do not have minimum wage restrictions or have a very low minimum wage in place. The USA is one of the few countries with regulated wages, helping to preserve the economy and create quality jobs for Americans. Sometimes the low prices of products in other countries are available because the country is willing to exploit its workers and not pay them a fair wage. American-made products are created with a higher standard that protect the livelihood of the American worker.

6. To Support American Independence

It is important for the American economy to become more independent as we find new and innovative ways grow industrially. By using American resources instead of the resources of other countries,  we will be able to bring more business and jobs in to our economy and remain powerful in the world markets. The rising inability of America to manufacture many products is economically unsound. Buying good Made in the USA fosters American independence and growth.

5. To Work Toward America’s Financial Freedom

The growing American trade deficit has lead to unsustainable borrowing from other countries. Purchasing domestically made products helps to reduce America’s trade deficit. By keeping jobs and dollars in America we can begin to improve the American economy and reduce debt.

4. To Protect Your Family

The United States has laws in place designed to help manufacturers produce quality products and protect consumers. Foreign product safety standards are low. For example, millions of toys shipped to the USA from overseas contain dangerous levels of leads. Toys made in the USA, such as Green Toys, are subject to safety standards that protect your family.

3. To Support Quality Products

Although prices overseas can be lower than in the USA, overseas suppliers use lower quality products. When you buy Made in the USA products you are receiving a higher quality item. You also receive products in a more timely manner than when work is outsourced to a different country. Quality control is higher for American made products because manufacturers tend to pay more attention to details and quality. It may cost more for a product Made in the USA, but the higher quality more than makes up for the difference.

2. To Ensure Economic Independence

By using USA made products, you help secure future business in America. By choosing domestic over imported products you help ensure that the Unites States will not be dependent on other countries for goods. Political conflict may affect trade with other countries but purchasing items made in the USA will allow our economy to thrive despite any political issues.

1. To Keep Jobs In America

When you purchase products Made in the USA, you help to keep yourself employed by helping to keep your customers, neighbors and friends employed.  As the USA becomes less able to manufacture our own products, future generations will suffer by finding it more and more difficult to find relevant jobs. When you buy products Made in the USA, you help to grow the American economy and ensure a brighter future for young Americans.

Visit DolphinBlue.com to learn more about why we only carry eco-friendly products that are Made in the USA.

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Infographic Friday: National Parks of America

As our nation celebrates another birthday, we can’t help feeling appreciative of America’s national parks. The first national park, Yellowstone, was established in 1872 by President Ulysses S. Grant. Today, the United States has more than 400 national parks spanning more than 84 million acres of treasured and protected American land.

Explore your US national parks here or view the most-visited national parks and get inspired to plan your next trip.

US Nationa Parks

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