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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Eco Gifts for Dad

This Father’s Day, get your top pop something both he and the environment can get behind. In addition to some of the new home and garden items we offer on DolphinBlue.com, here are six ideas:

Grill Daddy

Grill Daddy
Nothing beats the great American dad pastime of grilling on a summer day. Make the experience even better with a Grill Daddy, a brush that harnesses the power of steam to clean grills easily and efficiently — no harsh chemicals required. Say bye-bye to baked-on residue and grease, and hello to food that isn’t flavored by whatever got left on the grill last time.
$14.99, www.buygrilldaddy.com

Herban Cowboy Cologne

Herban Cowboy Cologne
Get a whiff of this made-in-the-USA, cruelty-free, sweatshop-free, vegan cologne. The smell of dusk (subtle yet manly), this is just the scent any eco-conscious guy would love to sport. The story is inspirational, too — Herban Cowboy was started in a log cabin on a dirt road, with no Internet service and a spotty phone line. People said personal care products that were both healthy and minimally impactful on the environment couldn’t be done … but founders Luke and Lisa have proved critics wrong.
$29.99, www.herbancowboy.com

Dallas Zoo Giraffe

African Safari Overnight at the Dallas Zoo or
Father’s Day Dinner Tour at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! If you live in the DFW area (like we do here at Dolphin Blue) and have a dad in your life who enjoys the great outdoors, these are two pretty special opportunities: Spend the night at the Dallas Zoo or spend the evening at Fossil Rim Wildlife Center in Glen Rose, Texas. At the zoo, he can kick back and not worry about setting up the tent, building a fire, or foraging for food, and instead focus on encountering animals, listening to special talks, and taking a morning monorail safari ride, all with his kids 7 and older. At the wildlife center, it’s dinner and dessert, followed by a Sunset Safari Tour that introduces you to nocturnal species not seen during the daytime.
Dallas Zoo: $45 to $50 per person, www.dallaszoo.com/event/fathers-day-family-african-safari-overnight/
Fossil Rim: Call 254.897.2960 for details, www.fossilrim.org

RibbedTee

RibbedTee Undershirts
Made in the USA, these comfy undershirts don’t bunch and stay tucked — key for this all-important everyday clothing item. Plus, the collars lay flat and keep their shape, and the tagless labels use non-phthalate ink. Order before June 10, and you can add a personalized monogram for just $5 to the CoolWear Supima, MicroModal/Supima, and CrossOver styles.
$18 and up, www.ribbedtee.com

Tree Planting

Dolphin Blue Tree Planting
For a gift that keeps on giving, turn to our tree planting option. The dedicated trees produce oxygen that we need to breathe; provide habitat for countless species; and stabilize soil, preventing erosion. It comes with a nice (recycled!) personalized gift card to memorialize the planting in a U.S. National Forest.
$27.19, www.dolphinblue.com/office-products-Gift-Tree-Planting.html

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An Eco-Friendly Easter

Easter EggEaster is upon us, and all that fake grass, toxic egg dye, and plastic packaging can really add up. We’ve rounded up a few good articles to spark some eco-friendly Easter ideas in you. So try making a candy holder from a toilet paper tube (it’s cute; we promise!), serving hard-boiled eggs dyed magenta with beets, or using an old silk tie to create an Easter egg design that’s to dye for.

>> 7 Creative Ways to Decorate Easter Eggs
(via Inhabitots)

>> A Simple, Organic Easter Menu
(via Prevention)

>> The Eco-Friendly Easter Basket
(via Crafting a Green World)

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Just Plant a Piece of Paper, and Watch it Grow.

         

The whole concept sounds like our grade school experiments with avocado seeds and toothpicks and a glass of water . . . or a bit of slow-sleight of hand.  What is seed paper?  It’s just what it says – paper embedded with seeds.    Put it in the ground and with luck and good weather you’ll have a small garden of annuals or wildflowers.

 

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Just-Plant-a-Piece-of-Paper-and-Watch-it-Grow.html

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Season’s Greenings: A very merry eco-minded celebration

During the holidays, tradition reigns supreme — most people like the familiarity and comfort that come from a routine rooted in warm-and-fuzzy memories. Fortunately, being green is compatible with keeping all those favorite traditions intact, although it may take some slight adjustments. For instance, put a present in a reusable shopping bag or buy 100 percent recycled wrapping paper that uses vegetable-based inks instead of that shiny, not-so-recyclable paper. Love lights on the Christmas tree? Just make sure they’re LEDs. Can’t imagine not sending out holiday cards? Buy recycled ones like those from Twisted Limb or even some with seeds planted inside. 
 
Here are a few other ways you can keep all things merry and bright — both at home during the holidays and out in nature.
 
Spread the green. Eco-friendly presents are everywhere these days, and they’re getting cooler all the time. We especially like the Recycled Bicycle Chain Bottle Opener from Bambeco.com. At just $10, it’s a steal, plus it looks great — cycling enthusiasts will especially flip for it. For more ideas, check out TreeHugger’s Holiday Gift Guide, with something for everyone from the foodie to the fashion buff to the philanthropist, and Dolphin Blue’s gift offerings, including books, music, coffee, calendars, and more.
 
Give a gift that matters. Making a donation to a charity on behalf of a friend or family member who already has plenty is a great way to encapsulate the giving nature of this time of year. For a gift that’s specifically green, try Oxfam America Unwrapped, which allows you to a select a gift that goes to someone who really needs it, while your recipient gets a card explaining the present. Just $18 will get honey bees to help a farmer sell fair-trade honey or a can of worms that will produce fertilizer and enrich land for farming. If your pockets are a little deeper, get a donkey ($100), save a lake ($250), or buy a house on stilts ($10,000).

Another great gift with some extra meaning behind it is a gift tree planting from Dolphin Blue, which includes the planting and care of a young tree in a U.S. national forest, along with a beautiful gift card (made of 100 percent post-consumer recycled paper).
 
Party in style. Stuffed back in the darkest depths of their closets, almost everyone has one — an ugly holiday sweater. While historically only the elderly set and teachers have worn these works of art with pride, in the past few years, a trend has popped up that makes good use of that sweater you thought you’d never wear: ugly Christmas sweater parties.
 
The inspiration for these parties came from the wastefulness that is ugly sweaters lingering in a heap behind the good clothes, gathering dust instead of shining brightly. In this day and age of reduce, reuse, recycle, digging up that old gift you had to work really hard to pretend to like just makes ecological sense.
 
For extra inspiration, and because it’s all kinds of fun (sure, it wastes some time, but consider it a stress buster, a necessity during this time of year!), check out weloveholidaysweaters.com, where you can virtually create your own ugly sweater with all the goodies of the season, or browse through thousands of images to see what others have come up with.
 
Trees that please. Torn between that yummy-smelling pine and a convenient pre-lit for your Christmas tree? There’s support for both sides, as nearly 29 million households go with the real deal, while about 70 percent choose artificial. But what’s best for the environment? Au naturel trees usually use pesticides and often are shipped from long distances, but they are biodegradable and can be used for things like mulch, compost, wood chips, and fences. Artificial trees are typically made in China from polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a pollutant, but they require less maintenance, are less expensive, and can be reused from year to year.
 
One option is to go with a “bulb” tree, a real (small) tree that can be planted outside after the holidays are over, or you can start in the outdoors to begin with and decorate a tree outside. Check out this slide show for other alternatives and read more about the real vs. fake debate.

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Giving Thanks: Celebrate Thanksgiving by giving back to Mother Earth

thanksgivingThe 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 1600s, 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 Startcert humane
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
animal welfare“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 Optionsamerican humane
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.
 cornucopia2
The Ambience
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 décor 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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A Green Halloween: The scariest holiday doesn’t have to be scary for the earth

halloween_pumpkinHolidays can wreak havoc on the planet with their travel, treats, and trimmings, and Halloween is no exception. Fortunately, there are plenty of small steps you can take to reduce the impact of this spooky day on the environment. Read on to find out how to keep Halloween a treat for Mother Earth.
 
The Costumes
Instead of buying a new costume, make one from items you already have in your home, trade last year’s costume with someone else for the night, or rent an outfit. Homemade costumes are creative and often more memorable than store-bought ones. If you aren’t handy with a needle and thread, don’t worry — there are plenty of do-it-yourself projects out there for the domestically challenged. Get some ideas from iVillage and about.com, or try a thrift store for vintage finds. If you do decide to go the store-bought route, look for something that may be useful later on, like for a theme party, your kids’ dress-up chest, or even for everyday wear.
 
The Trick-or-Treating
When trick-or-treating, walk instead of driving from house to house. If it’s too cold or houses in your area are spreadtrick-or-treat-766190 apart, drive to one central location, like a mall that offers trick-or-treating. This is also a great alternative when rain or frigid temperatures make going outside difficult. If you do go outdoors, outfit your flashlight with rechargeable batteries.
 
And, of course, give the kiddos a recyclable bag to use. The old standard of a pillowcase still works well for this function, or they can take a reusable shopping bag or a paper bag they’ve decorated.
 
For something more outside the box, have your kids participate in Global Exchange’s Fair Trade Cocoa Campaign, a kind of reverse trick-or-treating. Instead of just taking candy when knocking on doors, kids hand adults a sample of vegan-friendly, fair-trade dark chocolate with a card that details the poverty and child labor problems in the cocoa industry that affect mainstream candy enjoyed at Halloween and year-round.
 
The Candy
When trick-or-treaters come to your door, show off your eco pride with candy that’s at least kind of good for them. (For an alternate idea, hand out non-edible trinkets, like stickers, pencils, and temporary tattoos.) Here are a few candy ideas:
 
The Organic Trick or Treat Candy Mix from NaturalCandyStore.com has 100-plus pieces of USDA-certified organic goodies, including mixed fruit lollipops, root beer float candy, and cinnamon rocks.
 
Green & Black’s Organic Miniature Bar Collection has everything from cocoa-rich milk chocolate with crunchy butterscotch or roasted almonds to bittersweet dark chocolate with sour cherries or crystallized ginger.
 
Chimp Mints Chocolate are bars of vegan chocolate sure to satisfy sweet tooths. All profits support the Jane Goodall Foundation.831-L
 
Candy Tree Lollipops are made from all-natural, organic ingredients in cherry, lemon, orange, raspberry, and strawberry flavors.
 
Sjaak’s Fair-Trade Organic Chocolate Mini-Bites are vegan chocolate bites packed with a punch in the middle — either caramel, mint, açaí berry, orange, or ginger.
 
The Decorations
Don’t forget that nature offers up plenty in the way of fall decorations — think pumpkins, bales of hay, and gourds, which all can be composted when you’re done. When buying pumpkins, look for organic and pesticide-free choices. The pumpkin seeds inside can be a good treat for humans and birds alike. If you buy a few decorations, try to get things that can be reused from year to year or are easily recycled. Set the ambience with soy-based candles and scary music.

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