Be Green This School

school

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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For Earth Day: 5 Tips To Green Up Your Office

Two weeks ago we did a blog post on how to green up your home and today I’m going to give you some tips on how to green up your personal office. A lot of the household green tips can transfer over to greening up your office as well.

One step at a time is always the best approach when changing what you typically purchase to something more environmentally friendly.

Usually purchasing greener products like ‘Energy Star’ products are a great way to save money and energy but if you’re not able to purchase new electronics, keeping your old ones is okay too.  All you have to do is change some small habits, like if you leave your computer on at night in your office then shut it down.

1.)    Power Strips

If possible buy a power strip, connect all your electronics in your office to the power strip and just switch it off when you are heading out for the day and switch it back on in the morning.

2.)    Recycle

Buy a small recycling bin, if you don’t already have one, for your personal office and recycle everything that can be recycled!

3.)    Paperless

In certain jobs I’s simply impossible to go completely paperless, especially if your job requires you to constantly print things out. What you can do is switch out what you typically purchase and buy post-consumer recycled paper, its way better for the environment!

Also opt for printing on both the front and back or using the non-printed side for notes, etc.

4.)    Remanufactured Ink and Toner Cartridges

If you are in charge of purchasing office supplies, consider buying remanufactured ink and toner cartridges.  All newly manufactured toner and ink cartridges require about 1 pint of oil for production, estimated that 900 million ink cartridges and 500 million toner cartridges are made each year, that’s a lot of oil!

Don’t forget to recycle your ink and toner cartridges! Dolphin Blue offers free pre-paid shipping labels for empty Inkjet & Toner Cartridges. We do not accept toner tubes or toner bottles.

5.)    Plants!

Literally green up your office by putting plants on your desk or some place near you where you can see it. They can improve your air quality and increase your work productivity.

Check out this list of great indoor plants, although majority of them are rather big, you can probably find a smaller version of the plant at your local nursery.

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Fact Friday: Indoor Plants

flowersHere is a list of indoor plants that can help improve your air quality and remove harmful toxins:

  1. Peace Lily- Peace Lilies absorb benzene, formaldehyde, trichloroethylene, and more.
  2. Spider Plant- Absorbs benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and xylene.
  3. Golden Pothos- Indestructible and an effective indoor purifier in the world. 
  4. English Ivy- Can remove allergens such as mold and animal feces. 
  5. Areca Palm- The most effect indoor purifier and is an excellent air humidifier.
  6. Snake Plant- Also known as mother-in-law’s tongue, is one of the best plants for filtering out formaldehyde.
  7. Chrysanthemum- This plants blooms help filter out benzene.
  8. Azalea- Remove formaldehyde from plywood or foam isolation. 
  9. Dracaena- Eliminates formaldehyde, xylene, toluene, benzene and trichloroethylene.
  10. Chinese Evergreen- Filters out air pollutants and can begin to remove more toxins as time and exposure continues. 
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Giving Thanks: Celebrate Thanksgiving by giving back to Mother Earth

The Pilgrims may have traveled quite a distance to celebrate the first Thanksgiving, but their food didn’t. They learned to source their sustenance locally, a tough task in a new world, and they celebrated with a feast that eventually turned into modern-day Thanksgiving.

Getting food today doesn’t require nearly as much work for most of us as it did for those Pilgrims in the 1600′s, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about where it’s coming from.

Dinner’s Ready
Concerned about the way animals are treated? Try celebrating this year vegetarian-style. There are so many yummy meat-free foods at Thanksgiving, you may not even miss it. But if the big feast just won’t be the same without a bird on the table, look for pasture-raised, free-range turkey. This tells you that the animal lived outside, without harmful chemicals and hormones pumped into its body. Here are some other labels, classified by the World Society for the Protection of Animals, to look for when buying food:

A GOOD Start
“Cage free” (eggs)
“Free range” (eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey)
“Grass fed” (dairy, beef, lamb)

The “Good Start” labels indicate a meaningful animal welfare standard, but the standard covers only one aspect of animal care, and compliance with the standard is not verified by a third party.

Even BETTER
“Free range” (beef, bison, pork, lamb)
“Pasture raised” (dairy, eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork)
“USDA Organic” (dairy, eggs, chicken, goose, duck, turkey, beef, bison, lamb, pork)

The “Even Better” labels generally indicate a higher level of animal welfare because the standards are more meaningful than those for the “Good Start” labels, but the standards are either not verified by a third party or cover only a limited aspect of animal care.

The BEST Options
“Certified Humane” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork)
“American Humane Certified” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, pork)
“Animal Welfare Approved” (dairy, eggs, chicken, turkey, duck, goose, beef, lamb, pork, rabbit)

The “Best Options” labels cover multiple aspects of animal care, and compliance with the standards is verified by an independent third party.

To get your local store to carry products with these labels, just ask. Have your friends do the same, and the store will likely listen. You can download a request card to put in a store’s comment box or mail to its headquarters.

The Ambiance
Decorate your table not with cheesy Thanksgiving-print napkins and paper plates but with pumpkins, gourds, apples, and all the other wonderful edible treats the fall season has to offer. If the thought of doing all those dishes makes you want to scrap the holiday altogether, try Preserve Tableware, an environmentally friendly alternative to the disposable stuff. The dishes and cutlery are made from 100 percent recycled plastic and are strong enough to be reused dozens of times (or just recycled when you’re done).

Top off the look with soy candles and a few sprigs of pine, and you’ll have authentic decor that would make even those who came over on the Mayflower proud.

When It’s Over
After the meal’s done and the leftovers picked through, compost the rest. Of the waste Americans send to landfills, 24 percent of it is organic waste (i.e., kitchen scraps). Keeping that waste out of landfills saves space and reduces greenhouse gas emissions, making it a win-win however you look at it. Making your own compost is easy!

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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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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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Hope for the American Energy Crisis

In an op-ed published this month in the New York Times, Ralph Cavanagh, co-director of the energy program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, declares that our energy productivity and energy security are the best they’ve been since the 70’s. This opinion finds itself in stark contrast of those who think we need to construct the massive Keystone XL pipeline, or create a surge of oil and gas drilling, or start a nuclear power renaissance. Keep reading to learn more about Cavanagh’s article.

Cavanagh says that we have President Obama’s climate action plan to thank for the new-found positivity surrounding our nation’s energy news. Obama’s climate action plan gives top priority to the most productive and lowest-cost options for energy, which includes the “energy efficient resources” that come from getting more out of oil, natural gas and electricity with efficient equipment and vehicles that are used more carefully.

According to government data, energy-saving efforts in the U.S. have resulted in a steady decline in energy use since 2007. In 2012, energy use was lower than it had been in 1999, despite the 25 percent growth spurt the economy experienced since then. Cavanagh states that this trend is the result of factories and businesses producing more products and value with less energy, the main goal Obama’s climate action plan.

American oil use is also in decline, down 14 percent compared to a peak in 2005. The U.S. used less oil last year than in 1973, even though the economy is now 3 times as large as it was back then! This is thanks to better mileage from our vehicles and driving those vehicles less. Greenhouse gas emission, energy costs, and gasoline use have also declined; saving billions of dollars and helping the American economy compete in a global market whilst helping to make the U.S. more secure.

To continue this progress, Cavanagh says that the federal and state governments must keep increasing efficiency standards for buildings, equipment, and vehicles. And the Environmental Protection Agency must reduce carbon dioxide emissions from power plants by implementing standards that focus on energy efficiency to reduce pollution. He also states that utility companies should be rewarded by state regulators for helping customers utilize energy efficiently instead of penalizing those companies for not increasing their sales. Annual rate adjustments should be instituted by regulators to allow for unexpected changes in energy utility sales.

Over the past 40 years, the U.S. has found many innovative ways to save energy; we have more than doubled the economic productivity of our oil, natural gas and electricity. America’s most productive energy resource has been efficiency all along and it starts with the everyday decisions we make at home and at work. By simply trading out our old light bulbs for energy saving bulbs and updating our homes and buildings with energy-saving products and appliances, we will continue to see our energy productivity and energy security increase in America. If we focus on achieving more energy savings, we will also reduce costs and pollution. It seems the future of energy is not as dark as it once seemed.

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