When Cutting Costs Is More Expensive Than It’s Worth…
Accountability. That’s the philosophy we’ve formed our business around, and you can see the evidence of that in everything we do. We hold ourselves accountable to our employees by committing to paying a living wage. Our clients can trust that we operate as a licensed, insured, bonded business in the state of New York. We are accountable to our community as well, and we honor that relationship by being mindful of our environmental footprint and doing what we can to operate as a green business.
Unfortunately, accountability is the exception not the rule within our industry and other service industries. Far too often, profitability outweighs the importance of accountability. Many service businesses, especially in the cleaning industry, cut costs where it matters–insurance, wages, licensing–so they can charge the bare minimum. Only when consumers are educated about the dangers and risks that come with hiring cheap services will accountability be just as important as profitability. Choosing the cheapest cleaning service has a high cost later. One which you may not even be aware of.
Education and awareness should serve as our guides when we choose vendors and products to make a part of our lives. Whether it be the cleaning service you hire—in my world—or the restaurants you frequent, be reminded to hold these businesses accountable for the high price they ultimately demand from you and the community they serve.
To Be or Not To Be Insured
Insurance is a subject fraught with confusion, abuse, and ignorance. Business insurance, liability insurance, health insurance…there’s so many options to keep track of and maintain that it’s a wonder anyone can choose coverages at all. In the green cleaning industry, insurance carries even more importance than most businesses ever need to consider.
For example, as a green cleaning service with residential and corporate clients we are trusted within our client’s private offices and homes, an important responsibility that we honor with insurance coverage. Sound strange? Let me explain. Our cleaners are employees—not cash workers—and as such they are insured against liability and injury, even if an accident were to happen on the job while they were in a home or an office. The insurance coverage they carry actually protects you and our employee. You don’t run the risk of being sued by our cleaner because, as our employee, they are protected by our workers comp insurance. That should come as a relief to those who don’t relish the thought of hiring a cheap cleaning service only to lose their home or business in a lawsuit.
Unfortunately, there is a growing trend for businesses in our industry and others to bypass accountability in favor of profitability. Earning money as a business—large or small—will always be the end goal, but at what cost? When businesses forego accountability they take drastic cost cutting measures, which ultimately hurt their workers, their clients, and the communities they serve.
It’s become a common practice to save money by hiring cash workers so insurance isn’t required. Clients may not even be aware that they are opening themselves up to a potential lawsuit every time they do business with a company that operates in this way. Consider our earlier example, if you work with a cheap cleaning service that sends workers into your home or business without insurance coverage and an accident happens there you can expect to defend yourself against a lawsuit by the uninsured worker. The risk is certainly not worth the money you may have saved by contracting with the lowest priced vendor.
The client is not the only one who loses when companies do not value accountability. Cash workers are forced to work without earning a living wage or workers comp protection, which ultimately dooms them to become a burden on tax payers and their families. Ultimately, our communities and collective quality of life suffers along with them in a variety of ways.
Prove it. When In Doubt, Ask!
To protect yourself and your home or business against uninsured cleaning services, always ask if they are licensed, bonded, and insured before you enter into business.
As a potential client you have the right to request a copy of the workers comp and liability insurance certificates to confirm that the potential service company is adequately protected.
You should also ask if the cleaners are W2 employees of the company. If they are uncomfortable answering your question or if the answer is no, that should serve as a red flag signaling you to beware!
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. If your potential vendor is operating with an out-of-state license you may not be able to resolve any legal complications within the New York justice system. We recommend also checking The Better Business Bureau to conduct your own informal background check on any business you’re thinking of hiring.
At first, it makes good financial sense to move forward with a lower cost vendor or product; after all, the economy has tightened everyone’s purse strings, but the next time you decide to go with the lowest bid or to buy the cheapest electronic, ask yourself if the low cost now is worth such a high cost later.
Have you had a bad experience with an uninsured service company? Tell us about it here or visit us on Facebook.
Natural Air Purifiers
Right now you’re breathing in dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold, bug skeletons, and endotoxins. That’s because indoor air is 5X more polluted than the air outside. Before you reach for a gas mask, consider this beautifully simple solution: add purifying plants to your home and office.
These plants are actually proven to clean indoor air and decrease your risk for developing “Sick Building Syndrome,” a new health concern characterized by itchy eyes, runny nose, or wheezing.
To fight this growing health concern, environmentalists and scientists studied hundreds of plants to evaluate their effectiveness at filtering out airborne toxins. They discovered that best purifying plants were able to clean indoor air and regulate temperature variables such as humidity.
Sound too good to be true? It’s possible because plants emit a water vapor, which sucks in dirty indoor air where it’s converted into plant food. It appears that Mother Nature has created a better indoor air cleaner than any man-made air purifier.
Best Plants to Clean the Air in the Office
Best plant to remove airborne toxins and regulate humidity, not to mention its ability to brighten up a room.
Photocopiers and other office equipment emit a chemical called trichloroethylene from the air, which just happens to be the chemical this plant sucks out of the air. They can grow to be up to 10 feet, so these are ideal for a good sized office.
Best Plants to Clean Air at Home
Paint and other household products are known to emit formaldehyde into the air. Clean the air in your environment with the rubber plant, a very low maintenance answer to air purifying.
Display the Boston Fern in a hanging basket or on a ledge. Prepare to spend a little more time nurturing it along while you enjoy its air purifying and humidifying benefits.
The Peace Lily is one of only a few plants that flower indoors, which makes it a beautiful and effective way to remove toxins from the air. Remove stale cigarette smoke or the lingering smell of previous tenants with Gerbera Daisies, which are effective at removing benzene from indoor air.
Which Plant Will You Get?
If you’re anything like the average American, you spend 90% of your time indoors. Explore your local nurseries to find these and other plants to clean the indoor air you’re breathing, but also add a dash of color and life to your day.
Try it for yourself and check in with us here or visit us on Facebook and let us know how a purifying plant changed your health.
Mountain water, filtered water, spring water…oh, my! What is fact and what’s fiction when it comes to the great bottled water debate?
For years, frugal shoppers have been pointing out that the Evian brand of bottled water is just Naïve spelled backward. While the makers of Evian are (probably) not consciously trying to taunt consumers, the naïve label does seem to apply to bottled water advocates these days, a group of consumers that’s growing by leaps and bounds.
The road to this leap in bottled water consumption is paved with good intentions. Research shows that people are drinking more bottled water because they want to be healthier. In fact, the average person is drinking 15.9 more gallons of water today than in 1997. That’s the good news. The bad news is that most bottled water has no more health benefits than drinking water straight from the tap, and it might even be harmful to your health.
Consider these startling facts:
- Nearly half of all the bottled water we buy is actually just tap water in a plastic bottle, according to a new report by Food & Water Watch
- After a yearlong investigation, the Government Accountability Office, a nonpartisan research group, concluded that plastic water bottles are almost certainly leaching chemicals into the water they hold; which, by the way, isn’t as strictly monitored for contaminants as the water coming out of your tap for free.
- DEHP is a nasty chemical that’s usually only found in plastics, but which may also be showing up in the bottled water you drink. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) closely monitors this and other toxic chemicals to keep them out of our tap water, but the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t monitor bottled water the same way. DHEP has been linked to hormonal imbalances, male fertility problems, and even obesity.
- This isn’t entirely the fault of the FDA, they don’t have the authority to hold bottled water manufacturers to the same standard the EPA applies to our tap water. Bottled water suppliers could test water quality on their own, but they aren’t required to report contaminated water results to any governing body.
- Our health isn’t the only victim to potentially contaminated bottled water; the health of our environment is also falling prey to this phenomenon. More than 75% of used water bottles end up in landfills. This might be because unlike soda and beer cans, very few deposit laws are in place to give cash incentives to recycle bottled water.
The best answer? Filtered water + eco-friendly water bottle.
Since tap water is carefully monitored and tested it remains the safest water to drink, but depending on your city, it can taste a little…well…funny.
Home water filters can take away that strange taste and make tap water safe and enjoyable to drink. The trick is buying the right type of filter to treat your tap water. Differing local regulations, regions, and delivery systems result in different tap water. Find out what your water quality is on the EPA’s website.
Do you get your water from a private well? It’s probably worth testing your water quality with a home test, or if you’re in a farming area you may want to have it professionally tested since your risk of contamination from pesticides, animal waste, or heavy metals is higher. Contact the US EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791 or visit www.epa.gov/safewater/labs for details.
Most tap water can be purified using carbon, reverse osmosis, or a combination filter. The results you get from the EPA website or a home contamination test will guide you toward the correct type of filter. The EWG’s Water Filter Buying Guide is a handy resource to determine what filter you need.
You can also purchase filters for your shower and sinks so you can not only drink healthier, but also shower, cook, clean, and live healthier too. Of course, you don’t have to give up the bottle altogether, carrying water in a bottle is a handy way to stay hydrated, just choose a reusable, eco-friendly water bottle so you save Mother Earth right along with yourself.
No matter what side you take in the bottled water debate, be proud of your decision to live healthier and continue making healthy lifestyle decisions with everything you do. Are you already drinking filtered water over bottled water? What else do you do to practice green living every day? Let us know here or chat with us on Facebook.
Decode the Ingredients in Your Bath & Body Products
In the beauty industry,anything goes. Wild claims of youthful restoration are common. “Natural,” “organic,” and “green” are words that have almost completely lost their meaning when it comes to bath & body products, and the bad news is there’s (almost) nothing the government can do about it.
If we’re on our own in this wild frontier—and we are—it makes sense to come to the beauty aisle prepared to do battle against outrageous marketing, retouched photos, and product descriptions created to confuse and inspire you to buy bath & body products based only on what the manufacturer wants you to believe.
What is “Natural?”
Natural bath & body products can refer to anything packaged with a flower on the label to a formula made entirely with plant-based ingredients. As consumers we have to be responsible for doing our own research into this perplexing marketplace.
You may have already discovered—the hard way—that green, natural, eco-friendly, and organic mean different things to different manufacturers. The only way to find out what those seductive labels really mean is by reading the ingredients yourself. You don’t need to be a chemist, in fact it’s probably better if you’re not, because the simple truth is that bath & beauty products that really are natural will feature an easy to read list of ingredients. If you can’t decipher what went into it, you probably don’t want to put it on your skin.
Decipher the ingredient list
Ingredient lists are compiled based on the amount of each ingredient in the product, and are written from highest to lowest percentage. With that knowledge you are better armed than the majority of consumers when it comes to debunking the natural claims on your bath products.
Similar to choosing healthy foods, cleaning products, and clothing, buying natural bath & beauty products is a simple matter of choosing the product or brand that contains ingredients you can pronounce, high on the ingredient list. Don’t rely on what the front label or the box or the ads tell you. Soothing claims of “lavender infused,” and promises of “shea butter,” “essential oils,” and “green tea,” take on a different meaning when you turn to the ingredient list to investigate their claims for yourself and see that lavender is listed at the very bottom of the ingredients, while the first 20 ingredients are all unpronounceable chemicals.
Here’s a little secret…
Many beauty care manufacturers only add a small amount of “natural” ingredients to their products so that they can be marketed as such. They are only required to add half a percentage of any ingredient to legally be able to highlight it in their marketing claims. Savvy marketers know that it would be pretty tough to sell lotion, soap, or bubble bath to consumers if they were honest about the toxic chemicals they’re made of. But, they also know that manufacturing natural products is more expensive, and so they’ve developed this somewhat deceptive practice.
Certified organic bath & body products
In an effort to crack down on the beauty industries abuse of the word “organic,” the USDA created a certification system that you can recognize by its organic product seal on the label. If you see that you can be confident that your product is 95% certified organic. Any product containing 70% to 94% organic ingredients will feature a seal with the phrase, made with organic ingredients.”
Certified natural products
The Natural Products Association created a certification system for the vague “natural” beauty product category. Like the USDA before it, only products containing 95% natural ingredients can display a seal of certification.
Do a background check on bath & body products
Research the Environmental Working Group’s rankings of tens of thousands of personal care products to find out how your favorite bath, body, and cosmetic brands rank on safety.
Today, it’s easier than ever for eco-conscious consumers to live a completely natural lifestyle. From the way we clean our homes to the products we keep in our bathrooms and on our skin, all it takes from us is our willingness to stay educated about the brands we purchase and the impact they have on our health and our planet.
What natural bath & body products do you recommend? Share your favorites with us here or chat with us on Facebook today.
Repurpose, Reuse, Restore Old Clothes
If you’re anything like most people, you have a pile of old clothes that you don’t know quite what to do with. Especially if clothes have some sentimental value, it can be hard to part with them and you might be left wondering just what you should do with all the ugly sweaters, outgrown blouses, and too small pants living in your closet.
Hold an ugly sweater party
Everyone has an ugly sweater (or two) lurking in the back of their closet. An ugly sweater party gives your friends and family an excuse to put on their ugliest sweater and laugh at themselves and each other. Hold an ugly sweater contest and award the winner with a knitting class or yarn. Offer to donate all sweaters to a local thrift store at the end of the party. Serve a themed ugly sweater drink and appetizers. Use your imagination to turn a closet menace into an excuse for celebration!
Repurpose old clothes
Take your warm—but too small—sweaters or jackets and turn them into hats and woolen mittens for yourself, your kids, your friends & family, or even for a donation. All it takes to repurpose old clothes in this way is a sewing machine and your imagination.
Start out by washing the clothes you’re planning on repurposing in hot water. The idea is to shrink the items so the fabric pulls in on itself and gets tighter, which is better for use in a mitten or hat.
Once the fabric has been washed and shrunk use a pair of mittens or a hat in the size you want to use as a cutting pattern and cut the fabric out in the size and shape.
After you’ve got the fabric cut correctly, it’s just a question of sewing the pieces together and wa la! You’ve got a brand new pair of gloves and hat to wear or gift to someone.
Some clothes just have a sentimental value that can’t be forgotten, but also can’t stay taking up space in your closet. The best solution for clothes that fit that bill is to make them into a piece of art or a quilt that can decorate your space without taking up room.
To make a T-Shirt into a piece of art, visit your local art supply store and ask for canvas stretchers. Measure your T-Shirt before you go so you know what size to get. Once you have the stretchers in hand, simply stretch your shirt over the corners and hammer into place. Before you know it you have a piece of unique, custom art for your walls.
Turn sentimental clothing into a quilt by picking out a theme for your blanket and finding all the old clothes in your closet that you want to reuse and cut them out into squares that will be sewn into the quilt. If you don’t know how to make a quilt, visit a local quilting center to learn. This is a great way to meet new people as well as turning your old clothes into a lovely blanket for you to use.
Make them carry their own weight
Your old clothes, old blankets, or old jackets can be repurposed into tote bags or even ipad covers! This video tutorial takes you through the process step by step. What a fantastic way to live and promote your green lifestyle while learning a new skill. Why not make a party out of it and invite friends over with their old clothes so your group can do this together.
These are just a few ideas to do with your old clothes. Once you’ve repurposed a few things that were taking up space, we recommend giving your home a green cleaning to make you feel refreshed and renewed from top to bottom. Cleaning out the dust bunnies that occupied the back corners of your closet where your old clothes once hung will be great exercise as well!
We’re positive you have many more tips and suggestions for those of us who want to do something creative with the items in our closets. Please let us know what inspires you here or chat with us on Facebook.