Infographic Friday: Sometimes Less Is More

Lao Tzu, or Laozi, is generally considered the founder of philosophical Taoism. Taoism emphasizes living in harmony with everything that exists. His quote reminds us that sometimes less is more and the things that we need are already within our reach.

Find eco-friendly inspiration every Friday on the Dolphin Blue blog!

Share

Infographic Friday: A Sea of Plastic

Captain Charles Moore was taking part in a yachting competition across the Pacific when he accidentally discovered what some have called the world’s largest “landfill” – an endless floating waste patch of plastic garbage known as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Double the size of Texas, the water-bound swath of floating trash is trapped in a slow whirlpool called the Pacific Gyre, outweighing the surface water’s biomass by as much as six-to-one in some areas.

Since his discovery, Captain Moore has become dedicated to analyzing the huge litter patch and the harmful effects it has on ocean life. He founded the Algalita Marine Research Foundation and captains his research vessel, the Alguita, as he documents the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Through his research, he hopes to raise awareness about the plastic litter problem in our oceans and help to find ways to reduce it.

Follow this link to learn more about Captain Charles Moore and how he’s working toward a plastic pollution-free world!

Share

How To Start Your Own Compost Pile

If you’re planning your fall garden this month why not add a compost pile to the mix? Composting is a natural way to dispose of organic waste by breaking down organic material and transforming it into a nutrient rich soil additive, known as compost. Compost is a great, eco-friendly fertilizer for your garden. It loosens heavy clay so plants can thrive and helps sandy soil hold onto nutrients and moisture. Compost also encourages beneficial microorganisms that help your plants grow strong and healthy.

Getting your compost pile started is easy. Dolphin Blue has put together an easy to follow guide to help you take your fall garden to the next level!

Choose a spot. Select a warm, sunny spot for your compost. The composting material you put in will break down more quickly if the compost pile is warm and higher temperatures will help kill off any weeds that try to grow.  The microorganisms at work in your compost breaking down organic materials prefer warm temperatures as well.

Build your compost bin. You can create a successful compost pile directly on the ground but many people choose to keep a compost bin because it looks neater, can discourage animals from getting into food scraps, and also helps to regulate moisture and temperature. Your compost pile or bin should be at least 3 x 3 x 3 feet. A pile this size will have enough mass to decompose whether in a bin or on the ground.

Gather your composting material. Start by gathering two shovel-fulls of garden soil to help introduce the correct bacteria to start the compost cycle. Then collect a balanced mixture of “green stuff” and “brown stuff” for your compost pile.

  • Green stuff is high in nitrogen and helps to activate the heat process in your compost. These materials include young weeds, barnyard animal manure, grass cuttings, fruit and vegetable scraps, coffee grounds, teas leaves, and plants.
  • Brown stuff is high in carbon and helps to serve as the fiber for your compost. These materials include autumn leaves, dead plants and weeds, sawdust, cardboard, dried flowers/straw/hay, and animal bedding.

Fill your compost pile.
Start by spreading a layer several inches thick of dry brown stuff, like straw or leaves, where you want to build your pile. Add a layer of several inches of green stuff on top. Then add a thin layer of garden soil and another layer of brown stuff. Moisten the layers with water. Continue layering green stuff and brown stuff with a little garden soil mixed in until the pile is 3 feet high. Aim for a mixture of anywhere from 3 parts brown stuff to 1 part green stuff to half and half, depending on what composting materials you have.

(Click here for a list of things you can and cannot compost.)

Turn your compost pile every week or two. The goal of turning your compost is to keep air flowing inside the pile which encourages aerobic bacteria and decomposition. Anaerobic decomposition will smell very sour (like vinegar) and decomposes materials more slowly than aerobic bacteria. Turning the pile helps to encourage the growth of the right kind of bacteria and makes for a nice, sweet-smelling pile that will decompose faster.

  • Move your composting material from inside to outside and from top to bottom. Break up any clumps. Add water or wet, green materials if it seems too dry. Add dry, brown materials if your pile seems too wet.
  • Take the opportunity while you turn your pile to introduce new composting matter and mix it well with the older matter.

When you first turn your pile, you may see steam rising from it. This is a sign that the pile is heating up as a result of the materials in it decomposing. If you turn the pile every couple of weeks and keep it moist, the center of the pile will turn into black, crumbly, sweet-smelling “black gold”. When you have enough finished compost in your pile to use in your garden, shovel out the fertilizer you have created and start your next compost pile with any material that hadn’t fully decomposed in the previous one.

Composting Tips:

  • For faster break-down, shred leaves or clippings and crush egg shells
  • Add some red worms to your compost pile to aid in the decomposition process
  • Keep a mini compost bin indoors near your meal preparation area that is easy to fill up, transport daily to the compost bin, and keep clean
  • Collect the grass trimmings when you mow your yard to compost, unless you have a mulching mower
  • Cover your compost pile with a black garden cloth to help raise the temperature. If you live in town, this keeps the area looking tidier while still allowing the necessary airflow
  • Don’t add materials to the compost pile that are marked as “never compost”
  • Add more garden soil to help reduce any smells coming from the compost pile
  • Keep your compost heap moist, but not soggy or wet. The precious microorganisms can die if they dry up and the composting process will slow down

For eco-friendly gardening products such as organic fertilizers and seeds, be sure to check out the lawn and garden section of DolphinBlue.com!

Share

D is for Donate, F is for Food

It’s that time of year again; back to school time! And whether you’re a student, teacher, or parent, you’re busy getting ready to have a great school year. You may have already bought the school supplies that you need from Dolphin Blue, but before you present your new teacher with a shiny apple on the first day of school, chew on this food for thought.

The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) recently released a report revealing that 40% of food in the U.S. goes uneaten. Americans throw away about $165 billion worth of food each year, filling up landfills with food waste that accounts for a quarter of harmful U.S. methane emissions. But even though we waste a mind-boggling amount of food, one out of every six Americans is food insecure, meaning they aren’t sure where they will get their next meal or if they will get one at all. Luckily, you and your school can help make a difference this year.

Schools all over the country are implementing food donation programs to help offset American food waste and food insecurity issues. Thanks to recent legislation and the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, public schools and food donors can donate unused food items without liability or risk. Elementary schools are donating unopened cafeteria food to local shelters and food banks. Colleges and universities are implementing new donation programs fueled by student volunteer groups who pick up unused food from campus dining halls and deliver it to local soup kitchens.

Reducing food waste by 15 percent could save enough food to feed more than 25 million people each year. Limiting food waste also saves energy and precious resources like land and water. So, after you get your lunch packed and your notebook ready, take a lesson from thoughtful students around the country and learn how you can start a food donation program at your school. Call your local food bank to learn more about how you can help reduce food waste and start making green waves today!

Share

Green Toys are Safe Toys for Kids

Green Toys Recycling TruckWhen it comes to buying toys for your children or grandchildren you have millions of options. Toys are one of the most cherished aspects of childhood, yet each year many children are rushed to emergency rooms due to toy-related injuries So, how do you successfully browse the toy aisle to find a fun and safe toy for your child?

Dolphin Blue has compiled a short guide to help you find the right toy for your tot:

  • Paint on toys should always be lead-free
  • Toys should be made of non-toxic materials in case they are accidentally ingested
  • Fabric on toys should be flame resistant or flame retardant
  • Toys should be washable in case they become soiled during play
  • Check that noisy toys are not noisy enough to cause hearing damage to your child
  • Toys should not have small parts or strings that could be dangerous to a child if they break or come loose
  • Make sure a toy is intended for your child’s age group by checking the packaging or label
  • Be cautious of older toys or hand-me-down toys as they may not have been subject to current safety standards and could contain parts or paint that is dangerous to your child

Dolphin Blue took all of these guidelines into account when choosing the toys that we carry in our store. Green Toys are made from 100% recycled milk jugs and re-processed into HDPE, one of the safest plastics around. They are designed without any external coatings to eliminate the danger of lead paint and contain no traceable amounts of phthalates or BPA.

Green Toys are not only safe for your children, they’re also safe for the environment. Every Green Toy is sustainably made in the U.S.A. and completely recyclable. On average, every pound of recycled milk jugs used to make Green Toys saves enough electricity to power a laptop for a whole month!

Check out the Green Toys YouTube channel to see their toys in action and visit our online store to purchase your next children’s toy.

Share

Infographic Friday: Chief Seattle’s Inspiring Words

Former Vice President Al Gore’s book, Earth in Balance: Ecology and the Human Spirit, quotes an inspirational speech from Chief Seattle of the Squamish tribe. In 1854, Chief Seattle delivered his now famous speech to Isaac Williams, then Governor of Washington, while negotiating the sale of land that would some day become the city of Seattle, later named in the chief’s honor. Chief Seattle’s speech is revered by many for its heartfelt message and focus on respect and preservation of the environment.

Share

Shark Facts to Sink Your Teeth Into

Megalodon

Dr. Jeremiah Clifford holds the jaws of a large great white shark while standing in the reconstructed jaws of a megalodon.

Last week, you may have tuned in to Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week which kicked off with a two-hour documentary titled, “Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives”. The megalodon, a prehistoric shark from the Miocene era, could grow more than 50 feet long and dwarf even the largest great white shark swimming in today’s ocean. Unfortunately, Discovery Channel’s megalodon documentary was more of a mockumentary in the sense that its scientist were really actors and the 67 foot long megalodon they were chasing (nicknamed Submarine) was not really terrorizing folks off the coast of South Africa because megalodons haven’t existed for millions of years.

This year’s Shark Week has sparked a bit of controversy with its Reality TV feel. So if you’ve been wanting more bite for your buck, keep reading to learn some little known facts about sharks.

  1. Sharks don’t hunt humans. Sharks are highly-specialized predators whose feeding strategies evolved long before humans entered the water. With over 350 shark species around today, fewer than 10 are considered dangerous to humans.
  2. Sharks can detect electrical fields. Special organs in their snouts enable them to pick up electrical pulses emitted from the muscle movements or beating hearts of potential prey.
  3. Female sharks can impregnate themselves. Through a form of asexual reproduction called parthenogenesis, shark embryos can grow and develop without fertilization.
  4. Sharks rarely get sick. Shark tissues have anticoagulant and antibacterial properties which scientists are studying in the hopes of discovering treatments for various medical conditions, including cystic fibrosis and forms of cancer.
  5. Humans are a shark’s most dangerous predator. Scientists have estimated that for every 1 human killed by a shark, there are 25 million sharks killed by humans.

An alarming number of sharks are killed every hour due to the gruesome act of shark finning and the harmful effects of bycatching in fishing equipment. The shark is a vital ocean predator that plays a huge part in balancing our delicate marine ecosystem. Learn how you can stop shark finning and get involved in shark conservation efforts.

Share

Infographic Friday: Water Equals Life

Leonardo da Vinci is best known for painting the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”.  But he was more than a gifted artist, he was also an engineer and a scientist.  Much of his scientific studies were dedicated to understanding the movement and characteristics of water which culminated in his published work, Water Theory: On the origin and fate of water.  Ahead of his time, in his water theory da Vinci came close to defining the hydrological cycle, pointing out that water passes through major river systems multiple times, equaling sums much greater than the volumes contained in the world’s oceans.

In true artistic fashion, da Vinci was able to sum up the importance of water with his famous quote, “Water is the driving force of all nature.”

"Water is the driving force of all nature." - Leonardo da Vinci

Share

MillerCoors Stops Getting Wasted

MillerCoors Golden, COBetween Denver and The Rocky Mountains of Colorado sits the quaint city of Golden, home of MillerCoors, the largest brewery in America. Back in 1873, Adolph Coors chose the site to brew his famous beer because of the high quality Rocky Mountain spring water available in the area. And now, MillerCoors has entered into sustainability history books as the first brewery of its size to become landfill-free.

MillerCoors has been taking steps over the past two years to increase their recycling efforts, investing $1 million for balers, choppers, compactors, colored cans and signage.  Efforts to move to a no-waste facility started by removing personal trash cans then lead to a strict color-coded recycling bin system: yellow for aluminum, white for plastic shrink wrap, gray for scrap metal, and green for wood to eventually be ground into mulch.

Company leaders tracked monthly employee progress to gradually reduce the amount of waste they were sending to landfills. As goals were met, they were celebrated with gifts of T-shirts and tree saplings.

MillersCoors is now diverting 135 tons of waste out of landfills every month. Spent grains from the production of the 346 million gallons of beer are used to feed cattle. Discarded glass is sent to a nearby plant to create new bottles. Cardboard is sent to mills. Plastic wrapping is made into grist for composite decking at homes. And metals are taken to scrap yards for re-sale into global commodities markets.

The brewery in Golden is now the fifth of MillerCoors’ eight U.S. breweries to gain landfill-free status. According to the company, no other breweries in the U.S. have managed to achieve this milestone.

Like MillersCoors, Dolphin Blue is also strongly committed to sustainability. We only carry products that are made in the U.S. and are, at minimum, made of 20% post-consumer recycled material. We should all cheers MillerCoors for their green efforts and toast to their conscious capitalism. Visit the Dolphin Blue store to purchase eco-friendly products for home and office.

Share