Join us and thousands of others as we resolve to make this the year that we decide to do more to help the environment, reduce global warming, and get a little greener in our daily lives.
Being accountable to our community and our planet is important to us. In fact, it’s our philosophy. To support this we only use eco-friendly cleaning products and we work to help our clients make changes to go greener at home and at work. But, in the spirit of “there’s always room for improvement” we created a list of small changes that everyone can make (even us!) to live a little greener.
Use powdered detergent
Liquid detergent—laundry and dishes—is literally soap and water. Switching to powdered detergents saves more than 50,000 gallons of water a year. Not to mention that the dry stuff comes in eco-friendly cardboard boxes, not plastic jugs.
Keep your tires inflated
Of course we want to encourage walking and public transportation. Living in New York City, there’s not much of an excuse not to walk or ride instead of drive; but if you do have a car remember to keep your tires inflated. Driving on low tires takes more gas and using more gas hurts the environment. It’s as simple as that.
Leave the box and bags at the store
I love to buy shoes, but I leave the shoe boxes at the store to be recycled or used again by someone else. It’s a small thing but it’s just another way to show I care about this planet. I do the same thing at the grocery store and Farmer’s Markets. Bringing my own reusable cloth bag allows me to carry more items, plus I feel good about not being a consumer of plastic bags.
Just switching traditional light bulbs to energy saving bulbs would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year, more than $600 million in annual energy costs, and prevent greenhouse gases equivalent to the emissions of more than 800,000 cars, according to Energy Star.
Eat less meat
It takes vast amounts of natural resources—land, water, grains—to raise livestock for meat. In fact, according to the Water Education Foundation, it takes 2,464 gallons of water to produce one pound of beef in California. Just by eating less meat we can do more to save natural resources than we can by recycling!
Use eco-friendly products
Choosing environmentally friendly products for cleaning, food, clothes, and personal care allows you to keep your home and office free of harmful toxins and shows your support for a healthy planet. It’s easy to support the environment with your wallet, and we encourage everyone to choose eco-friendly products and businesses that share your values.
There are probably hundreds more small ways we can go green this year without spending a lot of money on big changes. In 2013, we’re concentrating on keeping our services eco-friendly from our products to switching off lights in the office. What are you planning on changing to stay environmentally friendly in the new year?
Global thinking and environmental consciousness are big concepts that require a long term attitude adjustment from all of us – adults and kids. Good habits start early, so we’ve put together some fun ways to raise green kids by getting the whole family involved.
#1. Grab a sweater
Encourage kids to grab a sweater instead of turning up the heat this winter.
Set a good example in these cold months by knitting your family winter sweaters for chillier temperatures or go on a thrift store adventure and find some cozy woolies to cuddle up in when Jack Frost comes knocking.
Keeping the HVAC on low has been proven to save 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per home.
#2. Drive less, walk more
Speaking of carbon dioxide…you can save 20 more pounds of toxic emission when you walk or use public transportation instead of a gallon of gas to get your kids to their activities.
Show your kids how fun and interesting walking can be when you point out nature and the sights and sounds of the city along the way. Make it into a game by buying pedometers to track how far your family walked during the day. Give a prize to the person who walked the farthest!
#3. Use eco-friendly products
Every time we go shopping we’re making a choice with the items we buy. Set a good example by frequenting eco-friendly businesses and buying natural products. Be sure to explain the reasoning behind your purchases so your kids learn to make good spending choices now and in the future.
#4. Turn off lights
Dad was right. Turning off lights is important. The simple act of turning off a light switch is one of the most environmentally conscious things you can do. Fight global warming and save money. Ask your kids to go through the house and see what else they can turn off. TVs, radios, computers should all be turned off when they’re not in use.
#5. Cultivate a green thumb
Plant a tree. To put it simply, plants suck up harmful carbon dioxide and give off oxygen. Humans are producing more carbon dioxide than the plants can absorb so planting more trees helps offset the damage we’re doing to the planet every day. Think of it this way: 1 tree will eliminate 1 ton of carbon dioxide.
#6. Make personalized water bottles
Bottled water is a waste of money, plastic, and drinking water. Buy your family their own reusable water bottles and personalize them with markers, stickers, and glitter. Encourage your kids to refill them with filtered water and save on harmful plastic.
#7. Use their voice
These days kids of all ages are making an impact in their communities by getting involved in causes close to their heart. Explain how social media, video, and petitions can help them get their voice heard by decision makers. Show them examples of other kids who have made a difference and encourage them to form opinions and act on their convictions.
#8. Always Recycle
Teach kids the difference between throwing something away and recycling. Keep a separated trash bin in the house so the whole family separates trash into recyclable categories.
#9. Visit thrift stores
Turn shopping into a treasure hunt when you visit local thrift stores for clothing and furniture. Explore online options such as Craigslist, Ebay, and Etsy for repurposed, handmade items that support a spirit of community and global awareness. Get them involved when you donate old clothes and household items so they understand that their trash is someone else’s treasure.
#10. Turn celebrations into fun projects
Holidays, birthdays, and just-because parties are all great excuses to create decorations, online invitations, and presents by hand. Get their creative juices flowing with new ways to wrap presents (reuse phone book pages or found letters), make holiday decorations (foliage and repurposed objects), and invitations (graphic design, photos, and creative writing).
Don’t worry about getting the point across in every activity you do together as a family. Just lead through example in the small ways as well as big changes. Global warming is a big problem without a quick fix, but teaching our kids to take care of the earth puts us back on the road to global recovery.
What fun things are you doing with your kids to make sure they’re environmentally aware?
Fair Trade Products Are Made in Ways That Don’t Hurt the Environment
The phrase “fair trade” is showing up on more products and in the news, but what exactly does it mean?
Fair trade is a term for the direct relationship between consumers and producers. In a Fair Trade relationship craftsmen and buyers work together to ensure that products are created using eco-friendly business practices and materials and a fair price is then paid for those products. When you buy Fair Trade products you can be confident that the people who made the products have been paid a living wage and the product itself was made in a way that didn’t hurt the environment.
Save lives by shopping smart
Just by making good shopping choices we are creating opportunities for craftsmen that may have been overlooked by big corporations. We’re giving them a chance to support their families and improve their lives!
Support better working conditions
Buying cheap traditional products can save us money in the short term, but the cost to the hundreds of people that made that product possible is unbearably high. Child labor, unsafe factories, and exhausting working hours are a part of life for some laborers.
Keep tradition alive
Fair Trade products are often made using traditional methods and materials, which serves to keep cultures alive and vibrant. This brings us together as a global community, something I value immensely.
Enjoy quality products
Not only are Fair Trade products made in ways that are healthy for the environment and the culture, but they’re also extremely good quality. A wonderful bonus to buying eco-friendly products is that making things in this way creates a higher quality product overall. I love this return to quality, and Fair Trade is an easy, impactful way to go greener just by shopping.
You thought you were just buying coffee? You can make a huge difference in the lives of farmers and craftsmen all around the world when you go green with your wallet. Buying Fair Trade is an important part of living a greener life when our shared goal is to make the earth a better place to live. Thanks for choosing companies and products that care about their employees and our environment!
A clean house is more than just preferable it’s a necessity for good mental and physical health. Experts agree that maintaining a regular cleaning schedule is just as important as eating organic food, exercising regularly, and taking vitamins. Cleaning for your health provides real benefits.
Skeptical? Find out how to protect yourself and your family from these hidden dangers lurking in the most unlikely places.
Indoor air is 5X more polluted
If you’re anything like the average person, you spend 90% of your time indoors. While you’re there you’re breathing in dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, bug skeletons, and endotoxins. Symptoms most people attribute to allergies such as itchy eyes, runny nose, and wheezing can actually be blamed on a house that isn’t cleaned regularly.
More than 500,000 bacteria are living in your kitchen drain
Countertops, sinks, drains, sponges and rags are home to thousands of germs and bacteria. Luckily water and natural cleaning agents like vinegar, citrus oils, and vegetable-based cleansers wash these microscopic nasties away. Make sure to clean with natural, eco-friendly products after you prepare any meal. Sponges can be sanitized in the dishwasher or in the microwave! Yep, microwaving a sponge will kill any germs hiding in its porous surface after just 20 seconds.
Clean leafy greens, potatoes, and berries – oh my!
Those foods are 3 of the 10 riskiest foods according to the Food and Drug Administration because of their propensity for passing on food-based sicknesses like E Coli and Salmonella. Your first line of defense? The cutting board. Keep several boards in your kitchen and separate them according to the foods you use them for. Meats on one and vegetables on the other. Wash the cutting boards in hot water with a natural cleanser. And if it smells bad, try washing with lemon juice to naturally disinfect and refresh your favorite cutting boards.
There are more bacteria living in your bathtub than the garbage can
The good news is that the germs and viruses come off our body when we bathe. The bad news is that they stay in the tub until it’s disinfected.
Every time you take a bath or shower, you remove germs and viruses from your body. That’s the great news. But all the bad stuff doesn’t conveniently slide down the drain or die on the porcelain; some of it thrives if those surfaces stay moist.
Your bathroom floor has more germs than the toilet seat
Microscopic particles of waste are sprayed across the bathroom floor every time we flush. Stop the insanity by closing the toilet lid before you flush and cleaning the floor with a natural disinfectant once a week. Moisture goes with germs like peanut butter and jelly, so be sure to mop up after a shower and hang up damp floor mats to dry.
Cluttered environments lead to cluttered minds
When our homes and offices are clean we are more organized, more productive, and happier in general. That’s no accident. Humans are incredibly visual and being in the center of clutter translates to a feeling of internal unrest. Regular cleaning maintains a sense of calm and organization in your life, which translates to a happier and more stress-free daily life.
GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning offers a regular cleaning maintenance plan that’s cost effective and healthy. Busy lives don’t leave much time for regular cleaning, but as you can see it’s important for your physical and mental well-being.
Ask These Questions Before You Hire a Cleaning Service
Spoiler alert: The answers should all be Yes!
Are you licensed, bonded, and insured? (And what does that mean?)
New York state has strict restrictions about licensing businesses – especially when it comes to granting a license to a green cleaning service, which is why you should always confirm that the company is legally able to do business in New York before you give them access to your home or business. The Better Business Bureau is a great source to do an informal background check on any business you’re thinking of hiring.
But, your due diligence doesn’t stop with confirming the business license. A good cleaning service will also be bonded and insured so you’re protected financially if they don’t do the work you agreed on or if someone gets hurt in your home or business – for guaranteed protection be sure that the person cleaning is an employee of the service provider.
As a home owner and the owner of a green cleaning service, I’ve made this a priority personally and professionally. Taking the extra steps to insure, license, and bond GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning was the right thing to do for our customers as well as our employees. This added protection ensures that if a cleaner is hurt in your home or business/office, we can make sure she gets the medical help she needs without placing the financial burden on our employee or the legal liability on you, which would put your home or business at risk.
Do your employees go through training?
Green cleaning services require more training and education than traditional cleaning services, which is why this is an important question to ask before you make a final decision. Your cleaning service should understand the importance of using only eco-friendly cleaning agents and the health hazards that can arise when products are used incorrectly.
The best cleaning services will be trained to work efficiently and quickly together as a team so you don’t pay for wasted time or damaged property.
As an example, we spend time ensuring that our employees are trained in good health & safety practices as well as develop a thorough understanding of our proprietary eco-friendly cleaning agents and our stringent performance expectations. All this extra time spent training gives us the peace of mind that our employees are working safely and quickly, which ultimately saves money and provides a better environment for them as well as our customers.
Should I supply my own equipment?
Cross contamination from borrowed or shared cleaning appliances such as mops, vacuums, and brooms are responsible for allergies and airborn pathogens, which is why we prefer to use the equipment you supply rather than bringing our own equipment from house to house.
Some green cleaning services will bring their own equipment and that’s fine; but we prefer to be extra careful when it comes to the health and safety of our clients.
We do bring our own vegetable-based cleaning products so that your home remains a germ and toxin-free zone. Our cleansers are tough enough to get rid of grease and grime, but since they’re 100% organic and biodegradable they won’t make you or your family sick.
Of course, if you don’t have cleaning equipment such as a mop, broom, or vacuum cleaner, we offer an option to add them when you order your service or you can call us before your appointment to let us know you’ll need them.
Any good green cleaning service will supply their own natural cleaning agents, but it’s a good idea to ask them for details or an ingredient list so you can be sure you’re not opening the door to hidden chemicals.
Do you insist on quality control?
Surprise spot checks. Account managers. A thorough initial consultation. These are the types of quality control measures any good green cleaning service will insist on. Certainly, we do! You’ll work with an Account Manager to communicate exactly what you need and expect, and we’ll follow up with our employees through spot checks, rigorous training, and –depending on the job—we may even go to the job site with them to ensure you get what you need.
Can you help me green my home or business in other ways?
Good for you! The more we all take an active, personal interest in restoring our environment the better our world will become. The best green cleaning services will want to work with you to make going green a lifestyle rather than just a cleaning preference. We are proud of the work we do with our clients to help them go green in big and small ways.
Download this free report and discover 25 ways you can save money just by going green!
Tips and Tricks from Our Family to Yours
Part of the fun and the challenge of living a green, eco-friendly lifestyle is tackling traditional activities in a creative way. Food, presents, decorations, invitations, and the inevitable mad dash that comes with the holidays can be challenging to even the most environmentally friendly households and businesses.
Over the years we’ve learned a thing or two about keeping the holidays green and clean.
Thanks to the Internet there’s no reason to send paper invitations. Get your whole family –at the office or at home—to contribute ideas for the holiday party invitation. Graphics, writing, colors can all be wonderfully creative and unique. E-mail them to your guest list and wait for the RSVPs to come in.
Go au natural. Mother Nature is a great resource for beautiful and original decorations. String branches with colorfully painted found objects, use fruit & spices to make fragrant centerpieces, pile stones in a colorful containers for an unusual objet de’ art. Visit a craft store or flea market to repurpose items into decorations and packaging for presents. Going green is all about using the imagination to dream up a new way of doing something. Encourage your family to dream big! You’ll be surprised that you spent so many years buying decorations.
3. Gift Bags
I love attending events that surprise guests with a gift bag. It’s a lot of work, but if you’re expecting a crowd or you’re hosting a company party, consider creating an eco-friendly gift bag. Unexpected ideas include personalized reusable water bottles, plants, Fair Trade coffee or chocolate, or a charitable contribution made in their name.
4. Plates & Silverware
Add an elegant touch to the festivities by using real china and silverware. If it’s a casual event with family, ask guests to BYOS (bring their own silverware) or you can visit a local thrift store for great deals on plates and utensils. It’s okay if items don’t match. Mixing and matching china adds a whimsical feel to your event.
5. Food & Drinks
The most important part of any holiday celebration is the food. Shop for local, organic, seasonal ingredients at your local Farmer’s Markets and supermarkets. Keep the meat at a minimum, since it takes (literally) tons of natural resources to raise livestock. Request RSVPs from your guests if you can so you don’t overbuy food. If you end the evening with lots of leftovers, make arrangements with a local food bank or charity to donate what’s left instead of throwing it away.
Stick to buying local, organic, or Fair Trade when it comes to wine and beer as well. Not only is it healthier, but your support for these small vineyards and micro-brews gives them the ability to support their families and improves their lives.
6. Clean up
Hire a green cleaning service to clear up when the festivities are over. Green cleaning services will use eco-friendly cleaning products made without toxins and chemicals. Most cleaning services will even do dishes if you ask. You enjoy the party and let professionals handle the clean-up.
Put out recycle bins for guests to dispose of trash throughout the party.
These are just a few of the many ways we’ve found to throw a wonderful, unique holiday party. Let us know what you’ve done to make the holidays green for your family, friends, and co-workers.
A List of the Best Eco-Friendly Holiday Decorations We Know Of
The holidays are time for togetherness, celebration, and creativity. One of the best parts about this time of year are the cheerful decorations we bring into our homes. Fragrant pine, glittering lights, and heartwarming decorations on every surface make the holidays unforgettable.
Keep your holidays green by using your imagination to create unique and natural decorations. After much deliberation, we’ve put together this list of the best eco-friendly holiday decorations we know of. We’re always looking for more ideas, so be sure to let us know if you can top these!
#1. Repurpose old greeting cards
Scissors, glue, glitter, and markers, plus a healthy imagination are all you need to create a unique set of decorations out of the greeting cards you’ve had for years. Get the whole family involved and make a night out of it. Add some hot cocoa or cider and you’ll be making memories as well as eco-friendly decorations!
#2. Buy an eco-friendly menorah
Shop Etsy to find modern menorahs created from natural wood or repurposed metals. Use soy candles to keep the effect natural and healthy.
#3. Buy an organic tree
If an artificial tree is sacrilege, shop around for an organic tree farm to find the perfect living tree for your holiday. Some areas offer a living tree program that picks up the tree to replant it after the holidays. If that’s not an option, research how and where to recycle your tree after the holidays are over.
Fake trees are preferable? Look for a used tree online or shop for one made in the USA with non toxic materials. Treat your new tree well so you can reuse it for many years to come.
#4. Hold out for eco-friendly ornaments
Found objects can be repurposed in surprising ways to create unique ornaments. Other alternatives include vintage ornaments, handmade ornaments using pinecones, acorns, and berries, or “eco-positive” ornaments bought through Fair Trade suppliers or online.
#5. Use energy saving lights
LED lights save energy and work better. When one bulb goes out, the whole string stays on unlike traditional holiday lights. Just remember to turn them off when you go to sleep and only turn them on at night when they can best be appreciated.
#6. Re-imagine your gift wrap
There’s nothing like tearing the wrapping off a gift, but the waste that accumulates is incredibly damaging to the environment since most traditional gift wrapping isn’t easily recycled. Get creative when it comes to gift wrap and use newspaper, comics, t-shirts, or even the phone book to wrap presents this year.
We’ve all received gifts that we didn’t want. This year let’s take the shame out of re-gifting. Why pass up a chance to reduce our overall consumption by giving away things that we don’t use or don’t like. Our trash is someone else’s treasure.
The holidays are a wonderful chance to celebrate life – our lives and the life of our planet. Let’s remember to make eco-friendly choices in our celebrations so we can celebrate our planet for generations to come. We love to try new eco-friendly decorating ideas so don’t be shy –share!
With extreme and unpredictable weather catastrophes on the rise, people are becoming increasingly eager to do what they can to adopt a more eco friendly lifestyle and reduce their impact on the environment and the climate. The good news is that there are plenty of great changes you can make in your every day life to make a difference. Over the last few years, we’ve all heard about changing to energy efficient light bulbs and using re-usable grocery bags, but there are many other overlooked ways to going green right in your home.
Conserving Energy in the Home
- Energy has become a precious commodity. Every effort should be made to reduce the amount of energy used in the home. Some ways to accomplish this include:
- Washing your clothes in cold water and hanging them to dry whenever possible. Majority of the energy consumed by washers and dryers is used heating water or drying clothing. If your clothing can be cleaned adequately in cold water, choose this option.
- Don’t just turn off appliances; unplug them. Many appliances and electronics are still pulling energy even when they are powered off. This energy is used to put the device in something of a “stand-by” mode. Either unplug items, such as chargers, that are not in use or plug them into a power strip that can conserve energy.
- Stay a little warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter. Keeping your thermostat a few degrees warmer or colder will not affect you very much, but will have a significant effect on your household energy consumption.
- Buy in bulk. By buying items that are in large bulk containers, you can cut down on the amount of packaging discarded by your home and you can cut back on the number of trips you make to the store.
- Choose locally produced foods and products. Locally supplied foods require less fuel to make it to your home. Local organic foods also taste better, are healthier, and support local farmers. Visit Grow NYC for a listing of farmers market in your neighborhood.
- Eat less meat. Meat products have a much higher cost and impact on the environment to produce.
- Choose all natural products. Whenever possible, choose products that are made from organic and natural ingredients, free from chemicals that are going to harm humans or the environment when they are used or discarded.
- Borrow and reuse. Only purchase new items when absolutely necessary. You can share or trade items with your friends and family. Borrow books and films instead of purchasing your own copies that you will likely never use again.
Using Organic Cleaning Services
A lot of the negative impact our homes have on the environment comes as a result of how they are maintained. By hiring a maid cleaning service that uses environmentally friendly practices, your home can benefit from professionals who know cleaning techniques that will:
- Reduce the amount of energy and water consumed to clean your home.
- Reduce the amount of waste leaving your home.
- Utilize all natural green products to cleaning your home that are safe and healthy for you and for the environment.