Infographic Friday: Earth Laughs in Flowers

Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American writer who lived during the 1800′s. He led a movement called Transcendentalism, a philosophy he wrote about in his published essay titled “Nature”. He wrote that the foundation of his philosophy is based on a deep appreciation of nature and he believed that we can only truly understand reality by studying our environment and spending time outside. Emerson thought that spending time alone in nature was the best way to come to truly understand and appreciate the beauty that the Earth brings.

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Disposing of Autumn Leaves: An Eco-friendly Guide

There are lots of great things about the fall season but cleaning up tons of leaves is not one of them. Don’t let all of those crispy leaves on the ground get you down! Dolphin Blue has pulled together some great tips on having some autumn fun and disposing of leaves the eco-friendly way.

DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN FIRST
Who needs a gym membership when you can get great exercise at home just by raking your front yard? If you’ve never jumped into a giant pile of autumn leaves you’re missing out on some green fun and a great photo opportunity with the kids! And if you want to get those creative juices flowing, why not go on a hunt for the prettiest or biggest leaves around and make them into an art project to remember. Check out some of these craft leaf activities for kids!

USE FALLEN LEAVES AS MULCH
Protect your vegetable or flower garden from harsh winter weather. Spread leaves over bare garden soil during winter for an extremely cost effective, eco-friendly mulch! Decaying leaves will deplete garden soil of nitrogen so in the spring make sure to add an organic source of nitrogen like Neptune’s Harvest Organic Hydrolyzed Fish Fertilizer.

MOW OVER LEAVES TO SHRED THEM
To keep bags of leaves out of the landfill gather dry leaves into low piles with a rake then mow over them with your lawnmower. Leaves will decompose on their own, eventually turning into compost. And if you spread them evenly over your yard they’ll disappear in no time!

CHECK OUT COMMUNITY COMPOSTING
If your bags of leaves are piling up, check to see if your neighborhood offers curbside leaf collection or maintains a central area where residents can drop of unwanted leaves. Bag your leaves using compostable bags and drop them off or leave them curbside. Leaves will typically be composted by your community center and then made available to residents as free compost!

WHATEVER YOU DO, DON’T BURN YOUR LEAVES!
Even though you may have seen neighbors burning huge piles, burning leaves is a terrible idea. Even smaller piles of burning leaves can release large amounts of toxic fumes that can aggravate respiratory problems such as allergies and asthma attacks. The air pollution caused by burning leaves can also corrode paint and metal siding and release a chemical called dioxin that causes cancer. The American Lung Association found that burning a pound of leaves produces more air pollution than burning a pound of coal! Burning leaves can also spark brush fires, forest fires, or even house fires. So remember to mow them, mulch them, or bag them but never burn your leaves!

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Infographic Friday: Autumn Inspiration

Albert Camus was a French writer and philosopher who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. As autumn is now in full-swing, his quote is able to capture the subtle beauty of the season by comparing fall leaves to spring flowers. We can find so much inspiration in the natural cycle of nature. Don’t forget to stop and enjoy the changing colors this month by taking a walk around your neighborhood or in your favorite park!

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10 Tips on How to Green Your Halloween

Halloween is that fun time of year when you can dress up as anything you like, decorate as crazy as you want, and eat as much candy as your heart desires. Dolphin Blue has pulled together 10 tips on how you can make sure this year’s Halloween is eco-friendly, fun, and safe for you and the environment!

1. Go Organic
When choosing the treats for all the brave kids that come to your door this Halloween, choose organic candy such as gummy bears or lollipops from companies like YummyEarth. Other great options for trick-or-treaters are LARABAR minis from Whole Foods, tasty Veggie Chips, or junior packs of organic nut butter such as Justin’s Nut Butter. You could also hit two birds with one stone by handing out organic chocolate squares like Endangered Species’ “Bug Bites” which feature educational insect trading cards and help to fund species and habitat conservation.

2. Choose Your Bag Wisely
Skip the impossible-to-recycle-cheap-plastic-pumpkin this year and opt for a reusable Halloween “ChicoBag” to store all of your night’s loot. This bag can hold up to 25 lbs of candy and fits into a small pouch so you can easily store it for next year’s outing. Another timeless green idea is to use a pillowcase to store all of your candy. But if you already have a plastic Halloween pumpkin from last year but it needs an update, don’t buy a new one. Just grab some non-toxic paint and give it a face-lift.

3. Remember the 3 R’s for Costumes
When you are choosing your costume this year remember to Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle. Reduce waste from costume packaging and make your own outfit. It’s easy to make a 60′s, 70′s, 80′s, or even 90′s costume from clothes you already own. Or get together with friends and family and host a costume trade so you can reuse costumes that are old to your friend but new to you! You can also gather recyclable items such as cardboard, foil, and paper to make all sorts of great costumes. Remember to only use water-based face paint and to buy face masks made from natural latex.

4. Get Creative in the Yard
Don’t waste money on pricey lawn decorations that can be hard to recycle. Grab some black trash bags and fill them with leaves to make a giant lawn spider. You can also use old bed sheets stuffed with newspaper or leaves to create ghosts by tying them with a string to form a head. Hang them from your trees to create a spooky yard. Old black pantyhose or cotton balls can also make great, inexpensive spiderwebs!

5. Light the Way with Solar or LED
Solar-powered lamps are a great choice to light the path to your front door for all the ghosts and goblins that come knocking. You can also choose LED lights which last up to 133 times longer than incandescent and cost a fraction of the price. Solar and LED lights are much safer than candles or regular bulbs because they don’t generate heat so they won’t start fires or burn anyone that touches them.

6. Keep Your Monster Bash Eco-friendly
If you host a party this year make sure you use reusable plates and cups for your guests to reduce waste. If guests will be throwing away plastic cups, cans, or bottles make sure you set out recycling bins where they are easy to see and encourage party-goers to recycle. Browse our selection of eco-friendly plates and kitchenware to make green waves at your Halloween party!

7. Exorcise Energy Vampires
When your electronics and appliances are off but still plugged in they can drain energy and cost you hundreds of dollars every year on your energy bill. These “Energy Vampires” or “Phantom Loads” not only cost you money but they lead to unnecessary carbon emissions, which is scary! Before you leave the house to trick-or-treat, make sure to unplug any items that you won’t use while you are gone.

8. Skip the Car and Take a Walk
Instead of driving the kids around this year, choose to walk instead. Walking will allow you to get a great look at all the cute and creative costumes your neighbors have put together and you will get great exercise in the process (allowing you to eat more candy!) If you don’t plan on trick-or-treating in your neighborhood, park your car in a safe place and walk from there. Always remember to stick together and think about providing your little ones with rechargeable flashlights that run without batteries and provide bright LED light from a simple shake.

9. Donate the Day After
If you don’t plan on reusing your costume and it is not recyclable, think about donating it to a school theater program or community center. Odds are they will be able to give your costume new life through one of their productions or you’ll help some imaginative kids have a great drama class.

10. Don’t Trash Your Pumpkins
Pumpkins are one of the best parts about Halloween. Whether you carve them or just set them out on your porch for all to admire, make sure you don’t throw away your pumpkin after the festivities are over. Many people like to roast their pumpkins seeds or use the pumpkin innards in different tasty recipes. Your pumpkin can easily be composted. If you need advice on how to start your own compost pile, check out Dolphin Blue’s blog about it here.

Check the Dolphin Blue blog often for more eco-friendly tips and green news. We wish you all a happy, safe, and green Halloween!

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Infographic Friday: Mud-Luscious

E. E. Cummings was a famous American poet, painter, and author. His work is filled with beautiful images of nature and he often turned his eyes to the environment for inspiration. He was able to capture both the awkwardness and the harmonious elements of nature and convey its beauty to the reader with his unique style.

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China is Drowning in Smog: One Man May Have the Solution


Air quality in China is bad, it’s really, really bad. The air quality is so poor that residents rarely see the sun and in some cities, the dense air pollution is mistaken for snow! What is causing all of the pollution? It’s coal-burning smog. And until China can ween itself from fossil fuels and implement more sustainable energy practices, other energy solutions are desperately needed. One designer named Daan Roosegaarde may have an ingenius solution.

Roosegaarde has an idea to create what he is calling an “electronic vacuum cleaner”. Copper Tesla coils buried underground would help to create an electrostatic field that would pull smog particles down from the polluted sky, creating a clear space above where sunlight could shine through.

His smog vacuum would attract pollution particles much like a strand of hair is pulled toward a statically charged balloon. Copper coils would create a field of static electric ions which would magnetize the smog, causing it to fall down to the ground below. Roosegaarde plans to capture all of the smog on the ground and compress it, hopefully making it easier to create awareness of how much smog residents are living with and to rally opposition to the causes of the polluted air.

This week Roosegaarde created a working prototype with the help of the University of Delft. They were able to take a 5×5 meter room full of smog and create a smog-free hole of one cubic meter with their device. Now the challenge is how to apply it on a grander scale. Roosegaarde would like to see it installed in parks and public spaces where everyone can enjoy a smog free sky.

Over the course of the next 12 to 18 months, Roosegaarde will be working to perfect his device and many will be watching, waiting, and hoping for his success. Roosegaarde acknowledges that the smog plaguing China is “a human problem not a technological problem” and he hopes that his smog-cleaning vacuum will help raise awareness off the issue while also taking a small step to make the air quality and quality of life a little better for the residents of China.

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Costa Concordia Salvage A Success

Protecting our oceans and keeping them trash free is sometimes easier said than done. Take for instance the story of the Costa Concordia, a cruise liner that crashed into the Italian Giglio Harbor in 2012. It sat for 20 months in the harbor, molding to the rocky perch beneath, before salvage experts were able to right the partially submerged ship.

According to ABC news, “the most spectacular salvage operation in shipping history” has been completed as the 114,500-ton Costa Concordia was pulled upright. While the catastrophic wreck happened in January 2012, the ship was not righted until September 17th, 2013. The salvage crew was able to accomplish this feat by building a platform under the waves and moving the ship from a position that kept it in danger of slipping down the sloping seabed.

Captain Richard Habib, director of Titan Salvage, led the $800 million project over the course of 18 months. For the salvage workers, the operation was risky and complicated, but for the residents of the Italian harbor, the operation was a life-saver. Removing the massive ship from the harbor was long overdue and many residents and salvage workers alike popped champagne bottles in celebration as the 19 hour operation to roll the ship vertical came to a close at 4am.

After the successful righting of the ship, it will stay in the harbor as further inspections are made. On October 10, Dockwise Vanguard, a semi-submersible heavy lift ship able to carry up to 110,000 tons, was awarded the removal of Costa Concordia. After the ship is re-floated, it will be towed to an Italian port to be scrapped.

Dolphin Blue is happy to learn that crews were able to avoid a catastrophic event by removing the ship’s oil and fuel supply before it leaked into the harbor waters. Taking responsible steps to ensure the safety of the animals that call Giglio Harbor home is one more piece of this story that give it a happy ending.

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Greenest Schools in America

What are a few things that come to mind when thinking of the “college experience?” Eating pizza six days a week? Writing papers the night they’re due? Those may be the more popularized experiences, but a college at its most basic is designed it to help its students learn and grow.  Some universities take this more literally than others.

Take Green Mountain College for example, #6 on Sierra Club’s 2013 list of Cool Schools. Its students were one of the first to help their college achieve climate neutrality, a truly impressive feat considering that climate neutrality means a carbon footprint of zero. This requires balancing any carbon output with an equivalent offset. It might seem simple at first, but what would this take? This would mean planting trees, reusing or recycling all trash, eating homemade produce, burning fossil fuels, and using wind or solar energy.  For Green Mountain College, they found 1.2 million kilowatt-hours in an unlikely source: cows.  Dickinson College, #2 on Sierra Club’s list, collects grease from local restaurants to turn it into biodiesel.  These colleges are taking advantage of the opportunity to craft and mold these creative young minds to tackle energy issues with their challenging and stringent sustainability courses.

However, not every sustainable solution is completely unique to each school, there are several practices that many universities share. For instance, many schools have campus-wide composting to reduce waste, enforce keeping paper and water waste low, and maintain cafeterias that serve student grown produce and utilize trayless dining. Also, many schools only build LEED Certified buildings, a certification that distinguishes a high performance green building. LEED takes many variables into account (sustainable sites, water efficiency, energy and atmosphere, etc.) and provides a status level of Silver, Gold, or Platinum. Dickinson College only builds to LEED Gold standards.

Not only are these colleges making a positive impact on the environment, they are teaching responsible and accountable living as well as fostering a strong sense of community and teamwork. These are healthy, functional habits that a student can take and use for the rest of his or her life.  What are some of the ways you could practices what they preach? Take a look at our products to get a few ideas on how to take the first baby steps.

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Everything old is new again

Plastics recycling can have a big impact on our resources.
Shopping bags, liters of soda, cereal box lining, and lots and lots of water bottles — it’s easy to amass plastic in today’s world, given its omnipresence in the products we use. Most of that, though, goes straight into plastic trash bags and heads to a landfill. (The rate of recycling plastic bottles has held steady since the 1990s at about 24 percent.)

Why Recycle Plastic?
When contemplating whether recycling plastic is really worth it, consider the following:

– It costs more money to drink bottled water than to put gas in your car — up to five times more — due mainly to its packaging and transportation, says the Earth Policy Institute.

– Recycling 1 ton of plastic saves 7.4 cubic yards of landfill space.

– The energy we waste using bottled water would be enough to power 190,000 homes.

– More than $1 billion worth of plastic is wasted each year.

– Recycled plastic can turn into a whole host of new and useful products, including durable building and construction products, fiber for carpets, tote bags, beverage bottles, recycling bins, shipping envelopes, and tableware (cups, plates, and utensils). Dolphin Blue carries a complete line of post-consumer recycled plastic tableware, which you can find here.

How to Recycle Plastic
Fortunately, 80 percent of Americans have access to a plastics recycling program, and more than 1,600 businesses are involved in recycling post-consumer plastics. There are seven types of plastic, and not every community’s curbside program recycles all of them, so first, learn what’s what with the handy chart from the American Chemistry Council, found here. Most likely you have #1 (water bottles, peanut butter jars), #2 (plastic bags, shampoo bottles), and #6 (packing peanuts, yogurt containers).

Many stores will recycle plastic bags for you, so check with your favorite grocer, or visit PlasticBagRecycling.org for a list of locations in your state that offer drop-off bins for recycling plastic bags.

When it comes to water bottles and other containers with lids, take the tops off before throwing them in a recycling bin. Lids are usually made of a different type of plastic than bottles, and the recycling facilities aren’t going to take the time to take off billions of lids — and likely will reject the bottles for recycling.

For more information, watch a short video here about the process of recycling plastic.

The DIY Guide to Reusing Plastic
There are ways to make good use of plastic once you’re done with it other than sending it to a recycling facility. Keeping plastic bags on hand and reusing them as long as they’re functional is a great way to reduce your impact. To make it convenient, try storing bags in empty tissue or garbage-bag boxes. This keeps the clutter at bay, and it makes the bags accessible when you need them. Just pull a bag out of the parachute hole and go.

For those with an artistic side, look at plastic products in a new way and see what you can come up with. You might just end up with something as fun and elegant as these cascade chandeliers. And although crocheting is usually done with yarn, when plastic bags are the material, it’s environmentally friendly and pretty darn cool. Check out one woman’s creations here.

Last but not least, it’s simple and easy to stock your office kitchen or home pantry with Preserve Tableware, made of post-consumer recycled yogurt cups, available on Dolphin Blue’s site here.

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