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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How to Live in 480 Square Feet

Little House Deck

The Party Deck is the first thing people see as they pull up to the house.

When writer Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell and her husband first had the idea to build a 480-square-foot home in the Ozarks, they wanted a great place to retreat. What they found — despite its diminutive stature — was a home, which they’ve been living in around the clock since October 2007. Here, Kerri (who writes a blog at www.livinglargeinourlittlehouse.com) explains the environmental, economic, and social benefits of small-house living.

You didn’t initially plan to live in your home full time — what changed your mind?
We decided to move here and thought we would be building a larger home, at least as large as what we had in the city. However, we didn’t make as much on our sale of the house in the city [as we thought we would], and digging our well cost more than anticipated. Construction costs had exploded when we got here. We also thought of building an addition, but we felt it would ruin the charm of the little house. That was going to be $70,000, and we would have had to borrow. We didn’t want more debt, and it was a good thing, as my husband lost his job here after 12 months and was unemployed/underemployed for 18 months during the recession.

What were the biggest challenges in transitioning from 1,100-plus square feet to less than 500?
Letting go of the stuff. I still have a whole corner of a metal building full of it. Much of it is heirlooms from my mother’s home, and I am having a hard time parting with her things.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell and her husband have been living in a 480-square-foot house since 2007.

Why is living in an environmentally sustainable way important to you?
I’m part Native American and my ancestors have a saying that goes something like, “We don’t inherit the land from our ancestors, we are borrowing it from our children.” I think if we continue pillaging every natural resource and souring the land and the seas, there may not be anything to pass on one day.

What’s been the biggest unexpected benefit of living in a small space?
There have been many — costs are lower, less to clean, the environmental factors of leaving less of a footprint. The most important to me depends on the day. During the height of the recession, it was definitely lower cost of living. On cleaning day, it’s the fact I can whirl my way through the entire house in two hours. When I am so sad about [events like] the oil spill in the Gulf, it is the knowledge that we are doing what we can for the planet.

What advice do you have for others who are thinking of making the big leap to a small house?
Start going through your stuff now and keep going through it. Some people who live in small spaces even count their possessions and won’t allow themselves any more than [a certain number]. Do what works for you. Also, build what you feel comfortable in. I know people who live in 120 square feet. That would never work for us. However, don’t close the doors to the possibilities. If anyone had asked me if we could live full time in such a small space years ago, I would have asked them if they were nuts. It’s amazing how little we need to live.

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Exciting Eco-Eating: The Down & Dirty On Edible Insects

The U.N. recently released a report extolling the virtues of edible insects as an environmentally responsible alternative to meat as a source of protein and other nutrients.  With their high fat, protein, fiber, and mineral contents, edible insects certainly pack a healthy punch! What’s even better is that the cost to our environment to raise insects for consumption is far less than the impact of raising large livestock for meat.

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Adding mealworms to caramel apples gives this fun treat a tasty crunch!

Even though entomophagy, or the act of eating insects, hasn’t quite caught on in the West (yet!), in many other countries around the world, bugs are eaten with gusto and are often considered a delicacy. So, why should you add bugs to your menu?

The Problem: Meat is Unsustainable
Relying on large livestock (cattle, pigs, and chickens, for example) for one’s primary source of protein means one must rely on highly inefficient, greenhouse-gas-producing, and sometimes cruel practices to obtain nutrients. Not to mention the health problems associated with consuming too much meat.  With the world’s population growing at an incredible rate and the demand for food rising along with it, having enough land to support both people and large livestock will soon become an issue, as well. All this is why many have said that producing and consuming as much livestock as we do is not sustainable.

But, you’re not willing to go cold turkey on your meat and go vegetarian? Why not try substituting meat with insects every now and then? All the nutrients, none of the burden on our environment.

Edible Insects: Less is More
Insects are an eco-friendly food option for a simple reason: they need less—less food (some insects can be raised on human/animal waste, which reduces the possibility of environmental contamination and avoids wasting food that could be eaten by humans), less water, less space. They even release fewer greenhouse gases and ammonia than cows, pigs, and chickens.

Many insects’ feed conversion rates (the amount of feed it takes to put on 1 kg (2.2 lbs) of body weight in an animal) are much lower than traditional meat sources. The feed conversion rates of crickets, chickens, pigs, and cows are shown below:

Crickets 3.7 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Chickens 5.5 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Pigs 11 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain
Cows 22 lbs of feed: 2.2 lbs of body weight gain

Large livestock create a larger toll on the earth with problems ranging from habitat destruction, loss of biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, and contamination from livestock and feed farms and farming practices. In general, insects are more efficient to farm and their impact on the environment is much less severe.

For something we spend so much time and money trying to exterminate, insects may actually be the first step to a solution to many of our world’s burgeoning social and environmental problems. All we have to do is get past those legs.

Creepy Crawly Recipes
Looking for some yummy ways to try bugs? Check out these sites, and add some environmentally conscious treats to your plate.

http://edibug.wordpress.com/recipes/
http://www.ent.iastate.edu/misc/insectsasfood.html
http://www.insectsarefood.com/recipes.html

For other ways to add a splash of green to your life, check out Dolphin Blue for sustainable office, home, and pet supplies.

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

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Infographic Friday: Buzzing Off, How Dying Bees Affects You

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

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

How the disappearance of bees will affect you.

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Operation Kindness: Dolphin Blue Reaches Out to Tornado Survivors

On the afternoon of May 20, 2013, a category EF5 tornado devastated the city of Moore, Oklahoma, taking the lives of more than two-dozen residents and injuring hundreds more. With winds estimated at 210 mph, the twister ripped through the Oklahoma City suburb leaving a path of destruction 1.3 miles wide and 17 miles long. Unfortunately, block after block of flattened homes and businesses is not new to Moore. In 1999, another deadly EF5 tornado destroyed the area, following an eerily similar storm path. Once again, the residents of Moore were left to pick up the pieces.

Home destroyed by the powerful tornado that ripped through Moore, OK.

Homes destroyed by the powerful tornado that ripped through Moore, OK on May 20, 2013.

Dolphin Blue’s Accounting Manager, Robin Lynn, was quick to put out the call for local donations and organize a goodwill trip to Moore in an effort to relieve the burden and show support for survivors.  She collected clothes, canned goods, bottled water and everyday supplies from friends, family and coworkers.  Robin also worked with Dolphin Blue CEO, Tom Kemper, to handpick items to donate from the Dolphin Blue store such as Preserve kitchenware, personal care items from Nourish, cleaning products from Mrs. Meyers and Better Life, and Green Toys.

Dolphin Blue Accounting Manager, Robin Lynn, greets Moore, OK tornado survivors with kindness and donations.

Dolphin Blue’s Robin Lynn greets tornado survivors with kindness and donations.

After loading up her truck and making the three hour trip to Moore, Oklahoma, Robin surveyed the heartbreaking wreckage of homes in the area. She met with local residents who were volunteering with humanitarian organizations heading up the relief efforts in the area and donated the items she had collected.

After returning home Robin reflected, “The effects of the tornado were devastating, but the kindness and appreciation from so many people coming together to help their fellow neighbors was truly inspiring. There is a powerful energy in Moore, OK, that I think will allow them to overcome this adversity.”

Dolphin Blue is proud of Robin and her heart-lead efforts to support the survivors of the Moore, Oklahoma tornado.  If you wish donate or volunteer to the ongoing relief efforts, please click here to find out ways you can help.

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Infographic Friday: How Paper Recycling Works

Have you ever wondered how paper recycling actually works? Check out the infographic below and see how your daily recycling efforts are making a real difference.

We RecycleDolphin Blue has been a big fan of recycled paper since the 90’s.   (Remember the 90’s? Good times.) We pride ourselves in the fact that our papers contain a minimum of 20% post-consumer recycled content, with many of our paper options repping a 100% post-consumer content stamp. In other words, Dolphin Blue offers “tree free” paper. Yes, we love the environment.

And not to brag on our paper products, but they also offer even more great qualities like being processed chlorine free, being made with Green-e Renewable Energy, being carbon neutral plus, and being Green Seal and FSC certified. We love supporting environmentally minded paper industry leaders like Boise, Wausau, Mohawk, Neenah, and Beckett Concept.

Dolphin Blue would love to provide you with environmentally friendly paper. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on our new website, give us a call.  We’re here to help.

How Paper Recycling Works

Infographic courtesy of Brave Media LLC.

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Is Dallas Walkable?

The Dallas Arts District is one of the city's walkable neighborhoods.

The Dallas Arts District is one of the city’s walkable neighborhoods.

We love our hometown of Dallas at Dolphin Blue, but it hasn’t always had a reputation for being a very easy place to get around without a car. Bike lanes and the expansion of DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit, our light rail system) are changing that, and we’re thrilled that gas-guzzling vehicles aren’t the only way to traverse the city. Here are some great ways to get from here to there:

By foot: Yes, Dallas is walkable (at least parts of it). Explore the neighborhoods of the Dallas Arts District, Uptown, the West End Historic District, and Deep Ellum by hoofing it. See what you can do in each area in this Texas Journey article.

By bike: The BikeDFW nonprofit advocates for cycling in North Texas and sponsors related events.

By light rail: Take a look at DART‘s network — stops include the Dallas Zoo, the American Airlines Center, and Fair Park. This summer, families (with two adults and up to four kids) can get a regional day pass for just $10 on Saturdays.

By bike that someone else pedals: Don’t have the energy or the equipment to pedal yourself around town? Dallas Pedicabs does the tough work, shuttling you along various downtown routes.

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3 U.S. Cities for Biking

Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is just one great place to go by bike in Walk Score's third most bike-friendly city.

Biking across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco is just one great place to go by bike in Walk Score’s third most bike-friendly city.

For a sustainable — and just plain enjoyable — way to get around, look no further than a bicycle. You can cover a lot of miles with just two wheels, but you won’t be making the carbon footprint you would be on four wheels. Here are the top three U.S. cities for biking, according to WalkScore.com.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Bike Score: 79

Perhaps it’s the frigid winters that bond the bike couriers, road racers, BMXers, and recreational cyclists in Minneapolis, Walk Score’s winner for bikeability in the United States. If you’re visiting, the Grand Rounds trail nearly circles the entire city, while the Mississippi River Trail follows both sides of the river, to name just two big routes. Learn more about the bike scene in Minneapolis here.

Portland, Oregon
Bike Score: 70

Often considered the cycling capital of the U.S., Portland is a leader thanks to bike lanes, low-traffic bike boulevards, off-street paths, bike parking corrals, and a very lively bike culture. While you’re there, combine two of Portland’s loves — beers and bikes — with a Brewcycle tour (a 15-seater bike contraption that goes from brewery to brewery) or a Pub Peddler Brewery Tour from Portland Bicycle Tours.

San Francisco, California
Bike Score: 70

One of the must-do activities while in the City by the Bay is to rent a bike along the waterfront and pedal across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito. The views both approaching the bridge and from among its orange-hued towers are spectacular on a clear day (and the good news is that the wind cooperates with you on the way back, so it’ll be comparatively easier pedaling). Try San Francisco Bicycle Rentals or another of the many shops around town for a good cruising bike.

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