Be Green This School

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It’s just a matter of days before the new school year begins, are you prepared? Many parents have already started shopping with the intent of buying the pure necessities like pens, paper, pencils and binders. On average, a family of school-aged children spends about $250 on school supplies and electronics each year. Do your part this year and look for more environmentally friendly and sustainable school supplies. Dolphin Blue offers a variety of Back-To-School supplies made with post-consumer recycled content and Made in the USA.

Here are 8 green tips for school

  1. Before you go supply shopping, go through all your old school supplies and sort out what you can still use and what you will need. It’s best to wait until after school starts to get your school supplies, teachers will usually give out a list of materials they will require your kids to have for their class.
  2. Reuse last years backpack. If it works then use it!
  3. If you are buying school supplies try to buy products that are made with post-consumer recycled content, ideally buy products that are made with 100% post-consumer recycled materials. Buy products that can be reused or refilled, like refillable pens.
  4. Walk to school. Streets surrounding schools usually become jammed packed with parents dropping of their kids, its better if you opt for walking or biking to school and if you’re good, why not skateboard to school? Walking is known to improve the academic performance of students; they arrive brighter and more alert to their morning class, it can also reduce stress and increase creativity!
  5. Take lunch. You’ll be able to monitor what they eat at school if you or they prepare and take their own lunch. Send your kids to school with reusable bottles of water instead of plastic water bottles. Also, use reusable containers or lunch bags for snacks and sandwiches.
  6. Teach your children to always recycle their paper at school.
  7. Use both sides of the paper when taking notes in class.
  8. Have your children cover up their textbooks with cut-up grocery or shopping bags to help keep their books in good condition. Many school reuse text books to save money and reduce waste so teach your kids to take good care of those books!

Schools Facts

  1. There are approximately 133,000 K-12 schools in the United States.
  2. There are approximately 60 million students, faculty and staff in schools.
  3. For every 42 notebooks made with 100 percent recycled paper, one tree is saved.
  4. 30 percent of all waste generated comes from packaging. Many supplies can be reused or recycled such as pens and notebooks.
  5. American schools spend $6 billion each year on energy, more than what is spent on textbooks and
  6. About 50% of classrooms have poor indoor air quality computers combined.
  7. Green schools are built and designed with strategies and technologies that aim to improve the quality of indoor air, which could lead to improved student health, test scores and faculty retention.
  8. Each school lunch generates 67 pounds of waste per school year. That means, just one average-size middle school creates over 40,000 pounds of lunch waste a year.
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Green Tips For You To Reduce Your Pets Pawprint

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Is your pet eco-friendly?  It seems like a lot of pet owners overlook their pets when transitioning from their own typical purchases to more environmentally friendly products. We search for ways to reduce our own carbon footprints and completely overlook our pet’s carbon footprint. In fact, a pet’s carbon footprint is about twice the size of an SUV! So how can we help reduce our pet’s pawprint? Here are some tips:

1.)    Ditch the plastic bowls:   

petfoodWhen buying pet bowls, opt for purchasing stainless steel or ceramic bowls, the bowls themselves won’t leach harmful chemicals into your pet’s food or water. It will last longer than your typical plastic bowl so you’ll reduce unnecessary waste going to landfills. (Fact: Plastic can take up to at least 1,000 years to decompose in a landfill.)

2.)    Grooming

Look for grooming products that are made with organic natural ingredients instead of buying products that can harm the environment once they get into our water or soil.

3.)    Poop and Scoop                                                                               

Dogs-Friend-Probably one of the tasks many pet owners tend to avoid, picking up after their pets. It’s not the most enjoyable tasks but it has to be done. What exactly do you use to pick up your pets waste? Plastic bags you get at the store?

Many pet stores have started to sell biodegradable poo bags. Choose these over regular plastic bags.

You can also scoop your pets waste and begin composting it. Don’t mix your pets waste with a compost pile you have for your garden, start a new compost pile just for your pet waste. Canada’s Office of Urban Agriculture has a site with an easy step-by-step photo guide on making a dog waste composter in your back yard.

4.)    Eco-friendly Products

Buy environmentally friendly products. There is now a wide variation of toys, apparel, beds and much more of pet supplies that are sustainable and eco-friendly. Buying pet toys at the dollar store can come with risks. A lot of pet toys do not go through testing to see if the chemicals used to produce the toy are safe for your pet. Fabrics and cushions are treated with flame retardant chemicals and are not bounded to the foam or fabrics, they end up settled into the dust in our homes and are ingested through hand to mouth contact; this can harm not only our pets but pet owners as well.

If you’re interested in buying eco-friendly and sustainable products, check out what we here at Dolphin Blue can offer  you and your pet. Don’t forget to recycle all the packaging that comes with it when you purchase toys, food, apparel, etc.

5.)     Food

Purchase organic and natural food for your pets or go the extra mile and make your own pet food. Search online or throughout pet supply stores for natural and organic foods, they’re easier for your pet’s stomach.  They’re also great pet food recipes online for you to try out.

Owning a pet comes with great responsibility. You are not just taking care of an animal; you are taking care of a companion that will be there for you no matter what. Nurture and love your pet.

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Why I Care About Post-Consumer Recycled Products — and Why I Hope You Will Too

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I personally conducted the very first public recycling event in Dallas in 1992, collecting and bagging 350 50-gallon bags of recyclables. After all that work, I had no success finding a place to accept the materials. That’s when I learned Recycling Economics 101: When we purchase products made from materials we place in bins, recycling works. When nobody is buying products made with post-consumer recycled (PCR) material, recycling fails miserably.

I founded my company, Dolphin Blue, in 1994 to offer post-consumer recycled office supplies and help close the loop — until we complete the process of purchasing products made from the things we place in the recycling bins, we’re allowing the continued increase in landfill waste, resource depletion, and loss of natural habitat for our fellow species.

Spurred to Action

I began thinking about what I could do to protect our planet when I returned to visit my birth home in Fenton, Missouri. It was between 1982 and 1987 when I started hearing stories about young women, with whom I had gone to high school, having inordinate numbers of babies with birth defects.

What was causing these defects? In the years following the Vietnam War, the valley in which I had grown up was being used as a dumping ground for both PCB-laden and dioxin-containing waste oil. The county roads were being coated with the contaminated oil, hauled from service stations’ waste motor oil bays. The haulers, hired by corrupt county officials, openly and regularly dumped the contaminated waste oils on our unpaved county roads. The dust from the roads floated freely throughout the valley.

Knowing that this type of negligent and irresponsible behavior was possible, I began formulating a way that I could somehow counter the damage being done by these ruthless practices.
After 1993’s devastating floods along the Mississippi River, I became determined that any company I ran would do business in a manner that could only function under triple bottom line principles (that is, people, planet, and profit).

The Health and Economic Sense (and Cents) of It All

While the idea of post-consumer recycled content is pretty popular now, it wasn’t always at the forefront of consumers’ minds back in the early 1990s. Needless to say, building Dolphin Blue into a successful business wasn’t easy. I persisted, though, because the cause is so dear to me. The value of reusing post-consumer materials doesn’t so much stem from the use of the materials themselves; instead, it stems more from all those raw, natural resources that are preserved because they don’t need to be mined or cut down or otherwise taken out of their habitat to create something new for humans.

Although we economically measure most everything we produce and consume in our country and world, we fail to measure the value a forest brings to our human existence. Mature disease- and insect-resistant trees, left in healthy forest settings, provide oxygen we breathe; prevent erosion, which reduces the incidence of flooding; and sequester carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that is currently at such a critical saturation point in our atmosphere that it will cause catastrophic damage if not soon reduced.

162_chromaclosesgap_2It takes as much as 95 percent less energy to produce new products from PCR materials, as opposed to using raw materials to make the same product. Saving energy means using significantly less oil, coal, or natural gas. We see all around us the environmental effects and human health effects of our continual reliance on fossil fuels. As we save energy, we reduce toxins entering the air we breathe and the water we drink.
Recovering post-consumer waste materials, then reusing these materials in production of new goods, improves human health and preserves natural resources for us, our fellow planet inhabitants, and future generations. From a financial standpoint, we can see reduction in insurance premiums and in property damage (remember Hurricane Katrina?).

Even for those who don’t champion the environment, it just makes good sense to protect it via the practice of purchasing products made with post-consumer recycled content wherever possible.

Continuing the Work

I do believe in protecting the environment, and fortunately, I’m not alone. Today, when there are recycling events, it’s not difficult to find someone to take those materials. Much has changed in the 20 years since I began my business, although we still have so much more to do. I’ll continue to work to help people — like those women I grew up with, who didn’t deserve the toxic environment their children were born into — to understand just how important post-consumer recycled content is for our health, for our economy, for our planet, and for humanity.

 

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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How CEO & Founder Tom Kemper “stepped up to the plate” on the Keystone XKL Pipeline issue

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It must have been shortly after the beginning of January 2013, when I opened my email and read a message from 350.org, announcing a Forward on Climate Rally to be held in DC on February 17, 2013.

I was heavily engaged in a physical health battle with Lyme Disease, unable to travel, and was quite frustrated because I longed to be there with all the others who would say “NO” to the Keystone XL pipeline. This has been an issue that grabbed my attention early on, simply because the extraction process is so very destructive, in a place where the land, under which the tar sands oil is deposited, is so delicate and sensitive. Many people opposing the construction of the KXL pipeline were willing to be arrested, and were arrested, to evidence their committed opposition to its completion. Additionally, most economists and scientists who are highly knowledgeable in the science and economics of this type fossil fuel extraction, production, and transport, are all in agreement that the amount of energy needed to successfully extract, produce, transport, refine, and capture the energy through burning this nasty and toxic crude, far exceeds the energy that this very toxic tar sands oil will yield. So, you might ask, “why would someone go to all this trouble to garner such a small return, or, no return on their investment?”

Good question. Some say, “Because Canada needs jobs”.

Since I wasn’t able to travel to DC last February, I began to consider what I would have spent, had I been able to fly to DC to attend the rally. Well, there’d be:

  • Airfare
  • Lodging for 2-3 nights
  • Breakfast x 3
  • Lunch x 3
  • Dinner x 3
  • Cab fare
  • Miscellaneous expenses

Before all is said and done, I’d have spent somewhere between $2500.00 and $3500.00.

I thought some more, and the idea came to me…

since I couldn’t go, I should take the money I’d have spent, and send some students who otherwise would not have been able to afford the cost to attend the rally, sending them in my place!

I called a friend knowing she just might have a way to reach Bill McKibben, co-founder of 350.org, one of the organizations co-sponsoring the DC rally. Margie came up with an email address which would connect me with Mr. McKibben.

I composed an introduction email to McKibben, sharing my thoughts on sending some students to the rally in DC. I asked him if he knew how we might find students from Texas who had expressed an interest in attending the February 17 rally, yet needed financial assistance.

He assured me he would talk with the 350.org staff about finding some Texas students who I would fund. He also stated he would have a staff member contact me shortly, to arrange at least four students attending.

Soon thereafter, my office received that call, ultimately making arrangements to send six Texas college students to DC for the rally.

After putting more thought into our plan, it occurred to me, why not send a camera person to follow the students, and have the students report back to us, sharing with us their DC Rally experience? With some great video footage, we could multiply the intended outcome of the rally, using the power of video and the internet to increase awareness of issues regarding the KXL.

I made a couple calls to find a camera crew in Dallas area colleges and I found two such students at UT/Arlington. Those two students became an eventual crew made up of Elliott Gilbert II and Rustin Rodgers. Elliott and Rustin have continually worked on not just the film for the documentary, they’ve also been so diligent in setting up screenings to create awareness among those who know little or nothing about the KXL pipeline issue.

Many versions of this documentary had been submitted to us for consideration, and, while we kept saying, “needs more this, needs more that, and where’s the part that evokes a call to action?“, Elliott and Rustin continued going back to do more filming and editing. They also, like most kids in college, kept coming back for more money!

Here we are today, fifteen to twenty edited films later, with a documentary entitled “Cry Heard ‘round the World” telling the story of the largest climate change rally in history, and why that rally was formed to shut down the continued assault by Big Oil and other proponents of the disastrous practice of extracting oil from the Alberta Tar Sands in Western Canada.

We DO NOT need any more extraction of oil, particularly tar sands crude that requires more BTUs of energy to extract it, than it’s extraction will yield, not to mention the fact that this toxic tar sands crude will emit 82% more air pollutants and greenhouse gases in the completion process than conventional crude!

We DO NOT need a dangerous pipeline traversing the United States from north to south, through a stretch of land – including federal and state government park lands, peoples’ personal property (taken through eminent domain, not by US corporations, but by foreign multinational corporations) and farmlands — that is required to transport this dirty crude oil across our country, so we can send it to China, for production of more cheap, unsustainable, and poorly-manufactured goods — produced by US multinational corporations, whose executive officers reap ever-higher annual incomes in the multi-millions of dollars, higher corporate profits, and of course, who pay little to NO income taxes and no corporate taxes.

Enough is enough!

NO Keystone XL pipeline!

NO tar sands crude!

Carbon dioxide gas in our atmosphere at 400 parts per million puts us way past the danger zone. We’ve surpassed 350 ppm, the agreed safe limit of CO2 and the level continues rising.

We must all work together, doing whatever we can to do our part in reducing the current carbon dioxide increase trend. Not only for those of us now here on Earth, we must decrease the amount of CO2 in our atmosphere for our children, and, their children.

We must take the money being spent on KXL and redirect it to investment in renewables!

We must begin doing so now.

We must take action.

Please write your Congressperson and your Senator. Do so today, please. For your children and their children’s future.

Click here  for the contact information for your elected representatives.

Watch Cry Heard ‘Round the World Documentary below:

Please share the documentary after you’ve watched it.

Thank you.

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Recycling Ink and Toner Cartridges

images_recycle3What do you do with your empty ink and toner cartridges?

Tossing them into the trash seems like the easiest way to dispose of the unnecessary cartridges, in fact, 60 – 80 percent of empty ink and toner cartridges used in laser printers, fax machines, and copiers end up in our landfills. In North America alone, 300 million cartridges end up in landfills each year!

Out of the 300 million cartridges thrown away we could circle the earth over 3 times. Not to mention that inkjet cartridges discarded in landfills leak into our soil, waterways and hard wild life. Especially carbon black toner, it has been classified as carcinogenic by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

001It’s very easy to recycle your empty cartridges; whenever you  need to go to your local office supply store just remember to take your empty cartridges, some stores have recycling bins at the front of the store if you’re in a hurry and just need to drop them off. Dolphin Blue also offers an Inkjet & Toner Cartridge Recycling Program; we have free pre-paid shipping labels accepting all brands of empty printer cartridges, used cell phones and printer fusers.

So what’s the importance of recycling your cartridge?

Well you might not see the importance directly but the change will be there. A laser cartridge can take up to 450 years to decompose while others can take up to 1,000 years, that’s crazy! By recycling just one of your empty ink cartridges you’ll keep about 2 pounds of waste out of landfills.

Recycling cartridges helps us conserve our natural resources such as timber, water, oil/petroleum and minerals since we reduce the need to use raw materials. More than 3 quarts of oil is consumed to produce each new laser cartridge and for manufacturing a new inkjet cartridge, roughly about 3 ounces of oil is used. We can save an estimated of over 11 million gallons of oil by recycling our cartridges.

You’ll also help save energy and decrease greenhouse gases emissions that contribute to climate change.

Remember we can all help sustain our environment, not just for our own well being but for our kids and future generations to come.

 

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What is a Carbon Footprint?

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Carbon footprint is the amount of carbon dioxide and other carbon compounds we produce as individuals, groups, etc., due to consumption of fossil fuels. The greater your carbon footprint is the more affect you have on our planet.

Carbon dioxide is released when we burn carbon based fuels such as:

  • Petrol and diesel- from our cars
  • Gas, oil and coal- from our homes and power plants
  • Jet fuel- from airplanes

How long is Carbon dioxides lifetime?

Carbon dioxide is not destroyed over time, instead it moves amount different parts of the ocean, atmosphere and land system. Some excess carbon dioxide will be absorbed by the ocean surface but some will remain in the atmosphere for thousands of years because the process by which carbon is transferred to ocean sediments is very slow.

Watch this 2 minute video explaining carbon footprint.

Why is it important to be aware of your carbon footprint?

We all indirectly and directly impact our environment. A direct impact can be your day-to-day transportation and use of electricity in your home. While an indirect impact can be how far did the fruit you bought at the grocery store travel before it was consumed.

It’s great to know just how much a simple choice in your daily life can impact our planet. The more you know the more you can grow.

How can we reduce our personal carbon footprint?

  • Opt for riding your bike or walking when possible
  • Reduce the amount of trash you use
  • Recycle anything that can be recycled
  • Use renewable energy sources
  • Conserve electricity and heating
  • Use energy efficient appliances, Energy Star appliances
  • Conserve water; shorter showers!
  • Buy locally made products
  • Vacation closer to home
  • Proper insulation for your home
  • Plant trees!

Carbon Footprint Calculators

The Nature Conservancy’s -estimates how many tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases your choices create each year.

EPA Waste Reduction Model (WARM)- helps solid waste planners and organizations track and voluntarily report greenhouse gas emissions reductions and energy savings from several different waste management practices.

EPA Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator-This calculator may be useful in communicating your greenhouse gas reduction strategy, reduction targets, or other initiatives aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

My Footprint-estimates the amount of land and ocean area required to sustain your consumption patterns and absorb your wastes on an annual basis.

Paper Calculator- premier tool for measuring the environmental impacts of paper and discovering the best paper choices

 

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Straight Talk with Tom: The Soul of Money

The Soul of Money

I just finished reading Lynn Twist’s book, The Soul of Money, and it is one of the most inspirational messages I’ve ever read.  In this book, Lynn talks extensively about our perception of money — individually, in our families, and…

To continue reading this article, please visit http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Straight-Talk-with-Tom-The-Soul-of-Money.html

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Connecting the Dots: Breast Cancer and Office Paper

For many, October marks the end of summer, the beginning of numerous holidays, and of course, good food. But, did you know that October also marks the 25th anniversary of Breast Cancer Awareness Month? According to the Breast Cancer Fund, breast cancer impacts the lives of nearly one in seven women in the U.S. annually, and has increased in men by 25% in the last quarter century alone.

At this point, you are probably asking what breast cancer has to do with Dolphin Blue, a provider of eco-friendly office supplies. Well the answer is simple. Everything.

To continue reading this article, please visit:  http://www.dolphinblue.com/pg-Connecting-the-Dots–Breast-Cancer-and-Office-Paper.html

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