A Guide to Buying Post-Consumer Recycled Products

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If you’ve been following our series on post-consumer recycled products, then you have a pretty good idea about what PCR is and why it matters so much to me. What you may still be wondering is, “How do I make sure I find and buy PCR products?” And unfortunately, that question is more complex than it seems.

There is no all-encompassing database of PCR products — it just takes good, old-fashioned research to find what you’re looking for.

The Wording on Packages

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Eco-Friendly Dump Truck Toy

Reading product packaging carefully is important. If a product says it’s made from recycled content, look for details. Does it specify whether that’s pre-consumer recycled or post-consumer recycled? (Any kind of recycled is better than nothing, but post-consumer recycling means that when someone dropped an item in the blue bin for recycling, it was actually used to make this new item you’re now contemplating purchasing. Pre-consumer recycling involves taking things like leftover scraps that weren’t initially used and finding a purpose for them.)

Do the claims apply to just the packaging, just the product, or both? How high is the percentage of recycled content, and of that, what’s the ratio of post-consumer recycled content? A product can claim to be made of “recycled content” even if only a tiny percentage contains anything recycled, but the FTC requires that the label tell you exactly how much is recycled (unless the product or package contains 100 percent recycled materials — in which case, that’s probably a pretty good item to consider purchasing!).

The Products Where PCR Thrives

It can be discouraging to find a product that touts its recycled content, only to find that it’s really not so PCR-laden at all. And it can take a while to find an item that fits the bill in all the areas that matter, like functionality, design, and sustainability. There is some good news, though: Lots of different kinds of retailers offer post-consumer recycled goods, from hardware stores and automotive centers to furniture shops and clothing boutiques.

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Boise Aspen 100% Recycled Multipurpose Paper

One category I’m proud to say often leads the field in PCR is office supplies (it is what I built my business on, after all). Recycled paper has come a long way; you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between a high-quality, recycled-content version and its virgin-tree counterpart.

Consider Boise Aspen 100: perfectly new, safe, nontoxic, environmentally responsible, 100 percent post-consumer recycled copy and printer paper. In addition to the recycled element, the paper is whitened without the use of chlorinated compounds or chlorine bleach, eliminating some rather caustic and harmful chemical processes. Those kind of additional environmental and human health benefits that aren’t always obvious are often an added bonus when you make a PCR purchase.

Certifications Worth Seeking

When looking to buy products, it can be helpful to see if they’ve been certified by a third party in environmental responsibility. Not all of these necessarily concern PCR, but they can be a good place to start:

Green Seal: Green Seal, a certification that’s been around since 1989, considers the total environmental impact of a product and works to reduce that impact while maintaining the same performance and quality you would expect.

Totally Chlorine Free (TCF) or Processed Chlorine Free (PCF): The Chlorine Free Products Association is an independent, not-for-profit accreditation and standard-setting organization for evaluating chlorine-free products. Only papers made with 100 percent post-consumer recycled fiber can be PCF.

Forest Stewardship Council (FSC): FSC certification ensures that products come from well-managed forests that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits.

Green-e: An independent certification and verification program for renewable energy and greenhouse gas emission reductions.

CarbonNeutral: For this certification, a company, brand, or product must accurately measure its carbon footprint, then commit to a reduction strategy and carbon offset program to prove their activities will not result in an increase in greenhouse gas emissions that affect climate change.

Doing Our Part

We know it isn’t always easy to find PCR products, and that’s why we do the work for you — asking companies tough questions, verifying certifications, and making sure that everything we offer on DolphinBlue.com is environmentally responsible. On each product, we’ll tell you the percentage of PCR content and clearly explain what that means.

We don’t know any other companies that go to the lengths we do to both verify facts and educate consumers on this issue, but we know it’s worth it. Every time you buy something containing PCR materials, you’re helping to close the loop — reducing our reliance on virgin resources and bolstering the market for recyclables so that more products in the future can make use of PCR content.

We all win when we recycle, and we win more completely when we purchase PCR products, preserving our planet for future generations.

Tom Kemper is the founder of Dolphin Blue, a company founded in 1993 on the belief that we can all be responsible in what we use. Dolphin Blue sells the most environmentally responsible home, family, pet, office, and business products available.

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Dolphin Blue’s 20th Anniversary

Dolphin Blue’s 20th Year in Providing ONLY the Most Environmentally Responsible Products for Business, Home, Garden, Pets and Kids

Around two weeks have passed since Dolphin Blue was recognized as a B Corp “Best for the World” company. It is such an amazing honor for me to know that we are among the best of the best of small companies, in the entire world, that are “being the change that we seek in our world“.

I think fondly of my dream of 22 years ago, having a business that could make a difference in our world, and would make a difference in the livability of Mother Earth for future generations.

I sit here quietly, in my tiny house of 200 square feet, made of recovered wood from tear down Victorian homes of yesteryear, church pew countertops, Victorian stained-glass door and beautiful art-glass windows, 130 year old recovered cypress floor planks, and milk paint bead-board cathedral ceiling, thinking of the fact that it has been so easy to live on the offerings of Mother Earth. She has given to me, and to all whom I know, and, all of mankind and fellow-creaturekind for all of her existence, without a whimper, with only love, asking us softly, to listen to her and all her creatures, great and small. That does include us.

What began for me as an attempt to recycle my way, and human society’s way, out of the mess we’ve been creating, back in 1992, has become not just a small and very successful business, it has also become for me, a calling to serve our Great Mother Planet, all her occupants, and all occupants, of all species, to come. By serving that which has served me and my ancestors, for so many millions of years, I better serve my Higher Source.

Life is precious, opening for me so many opportunities to live a rich and fulfilling existence, filled with Joy and Abundance, and bringing my Spirit into Connection with all that makes up this amazing place we call our home, Earth.

As Dolphin Blue opened its door for doing business on April 9, 1994, I had magnificent thoughts of creating a billion-dollar enterprise. Little did I know at that time, that my objective would be achieved many times over, measured however, in wisdom and grace, not in greenbacks. In October of 2013, I was granted a second chance at life, hanging on to each breath, as I prepared for leaving this all behind. My God smiled on me that uncertain day, and said, “Live, and live with Joy, live with Abandon, live with Love.”

As each new day emerges, I relish the opportunity before me to be human, be connected to all around me, to love all around me that brings life, and to take my human-ness into everything I do, every decision I make.

As part of my recent two-and-a-half year healing journey, I have been presented with more challenges than I thought humanly possible, and, with relative ease, looking back, handled them all. With my loving and self-less wife at my side, and numerous friends and adopted family, I very capably and easily handled every challenge presented me.

 Fiercely dedicated and exceptionally-competent staff at Dolphin Blue, including Mike, Robin, Lupe, Tatiana, Christina, Ryan, Alexandra, Haley and Alison, kept things thriving while I’ve been immersed in my healing journey. Thank you DB family.

Now, I’m back. My tiny house has been my healing sanctuary, and continues to deliver energy, grace and a connection to All That Is.

Margaret is my beautiful wife. She kept me alive, literally. She and I are beginning to dance our way through life. Funny how some of us forgot to have fun, as we got too serious about everything. It is time for all of us to just dance with life, and dance with each other.

Dolphin Blue has been my passion, and to a fault, my only passion. It is now a passion, among many passions. It is my passion to complete our 7 KW solar panel array on our newly remodeled and deeply green home in the next two months, and it is my passion to soon be driving an all electric Tesla vehicle, plugging into our solar grid each night, recharging from our Universe’s source of power.

When I began Dolphin Blue twenty years ago, we offered only Office Supplies. Today, we are the single largest provider of Printed Envelopes, made of post-consumer recycled paper (made from old paper that has been re-pulped, not from tree fiber) and printed with soybean-based inks. I know of no company in existence that provides more environmentally responsible printed envelopes, to anyone on this planet, than does Dolphin Blue to our United States federal government. Thank you Dolphin Blue’s federal agency customers.

In the last three years, we’ve expanded our product offering beyond business products. We now offer products for the Home, such as Cleaning Products, Garden Supplies, Kitchen and Tableware, Pet Beds and Toys, School Supplies, and Children’s Toys

All are made from recycled material, organic ingredients, environmentally responsible materials and processes, renewable energy, are non-toxic and BPA-free, and are guaranteed to your satisfaction.

All work better than their toxic and polluting counterparts, and ALL are made in the USA. I love knowing we provide only products that lessen the burden on our planet, and reduce, sometimes dramatically, humanity’s carbon footprint on Mother Earth, giving her a little breathing room while we figure it all out (what being human is supposed to look like).

It is my sincerest desire that all who read this know that life is Good, that we, as Human Beings are all Good, and that we can all make a difference. We All go to Heaven. We are in Heaven. Thank you for allowing me to do what I love. Thank you for your love.

We are all in this together, let’s make the best of it, for now, and for our children’s future. Earth Day is coming fast, April 22. Let’s honor the Great Mother who provides us all from our earthly garden, and honor our children by leaving them a future abundant with all that we’ve enjoyed.

Thank you Mom. Thank you All.

Tom Kemper
Founder, President & CEO
Dolphin Blue, Inc.
Dolphinblue.com

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Fact Friday: Paper Recycling

newspaperDid you know?

  • Recycling a single run of the Sunday New York Times would save 75,000 trees.
  • If all our newspaper was recycled, we could save about 250,000,000 trees each year!
  • The average American uses seven trees a year in paper, wood, and other products made from trees.
  • The amount of wood and paper we throw away each year is enough to heat 50,000,000 homes for 20 years.
  • Approximately 1 billion trees worth of paper are thrown away every year in the U.S.
  • Americans use 85,000,000 tons of paper a year; about 680 pounds per person.
  • The average household throws away 13,000 separate pieces of paper each year. Most is packaging and junk mail.
  • Every day, Americans buy about 62 million newspapers and throw out around 44 million of them. If we recycled just half our newsprint every year, we would need 3,200 fewer garage trucks to collect our trash.
  • Americans throw away the equivalent of more than 30 million trees in newsprint each year.
  • For every 15,000 tons of old newspaper recycled annually, 30 jobs are created to collect the paper, and 40 jobs are created to process the paper.
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5 Things You’d Never Believe Could Be Recycled

Bicycles

Bikes are considered one of the most environmentally friendly ways of transportation we have but even with that they cause a problem in our landfills. Annually more than 15 million bikes are thrown away in the US alone. So what’s the proper way of disposing of your bike? Donate it! Maybe your bike isn’t suitable for you anymore but it sure can help out someone else. You can donate it to Bikes to the World, which collects, refurbishes and donates bikes to lower-income people and institution in developing countries.

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Crayons

More than 12 million crayons are made in the US, every day! That’s about 60 tons of crayons made with petroleum based waxed that will eventually end up in our landfills. We all have that small box filled with broken and unused crayons in our homes, not really sure what to do with them but can’t throw them away. Well the National Crayon Recycle Program will gladly take all your broken and rejected crayons off your hands! They have now collected over 93,000 pounds of unwanted crayons and made them into beautiful works of art for kids to enjoy!

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Bras

That’s right, Bras. The Bosom Buddy Program collects old bras and gives them to women in shelters or other programs.  So if you have a bra that doesn’t fit or a bra that you just won’t wear any more than wash it out, fill the donation form, package it up and either drop it off at a location near you or mail them directly to The Bra Recyclers.

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Wine Bottles and Corks

Have wine bottles or corks taking up space in your kitchen? If you didn’t know, the wine bottle itself is glass recyclable but what about the cork? ReCork American collects those tiny corks and turns them into flooring tiles, automotive gaskets, craft materials, soils conditioner, and sports equipment. They have collected over 47 million corks!

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Styrofoam 

According the EPA, each year Americans throw away 25,000,000,000 Styrofoam cups. Even 500 years from now, the foam coffee cup you used this morning will still be sitting in a landfill somewhere. Why? Because the materials used to make up styrofoam or polystyrene foam take a really long time to decompose. If you want to start recycling your styrofoam then go to Earth911 to locate a styrofoam recycling facility in your area or you can also check your local UPS store or mailing company for styrofoam recycling. Many of these companies accept styrofoam packing peanuts to reuse.

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Are You Going To Recycle That Water Bottle?

FactFriday 1Here are some surprising facts about water bottles you probably didn’t know about.

  • Plastic water bottles take around 450 years to 1000 years to decompose.
  • We have about 2 million tons of water bottles in our landfills.
  • The making of the bottles to meet our demands uses more than 17 million barrels of oil annually.
  • Americans used about 50 billion plastic water bottles last year, yet the U.S. recycling rate is only 23%.
  • Nearly half of all bottled water is reprocessed tap water.
  • Some bottles might be contaminated and cause health problems.

Go green and ditch plastic water bottles.

  • Water pitcher filters are as efficient as 300 standard 16.9 ounce bottles. They filter about 240 gallons of water a year for about .19 cents a day.
  • Tap water goes through more regulation than bottled waters since tap water is regulated by the EPA and water bottles are regulated by the FDA. It’s cleaner and cheaper.
  • Buy BPA free bottles for when you’re on the go, they’re reusable and can last you for years.

If you just can’t part ways with your water bottles then recycle. Don’t forget, when you recycle plastic, you’re helping save energy, oil and landfill space.

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Infographic Monday: What is post-consumer recycled?

Friday 10, JanuaryPost-consumer recycled is when a material or product has served its intended use and has avoided or has been recovered from a landfill. It helps avoid using natural resources such as forests and strengthens the market for recycled products.

Dolphin Blue sells products with up to 100% post-consumer recycled content. Remember the more PCR content a product has, the better it is for the environment!

 

 

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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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