Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - July 2013

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

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10 Creative Ways to Clean with Vinegar

Chances are there is a super hero in your house at this very moment. Vinegar, disguised as a common ingredient, is actually a super hero with the ability to promote good health, clean your house and even deodorize smelly spaces.

We make good use of vinegar in our Ecospirit cleaning products, but you don’t need to wait for your green cleaning service to start reaping the benefits.

10 Ways to Start Using Vinegar Today

  1. Mix one part white vinegar and one part water in a spray bottle for a quick, basic household cleaner.
  2. Cleaning toilet bowls with white vinegar removes stubborn stains.
  3. Unclog a drain by pouring ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup white vinegar. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes before flushing it with boiling water.
  4. Fade age spots by mixing equal parts undiluted raw apple cider vinegar with raw onion juice. Apply with cotton ball to age spots twice daily and watch them fade within a month.
  5. Remove pesticides by soaking vegetables in a mixture of 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar to 1 quart of water.
  6. Soothe sunburns with one cup of apple cider vinegar added to a cool bathtub of water to soak in.
  7. Remove stale cigarette smells and other odors with two cups of white or raw apple cider vinegar. Pour the vinegar in a bowl and allow it to sit in the room for a day.
  8. Clean silverware and jewelry in 1/2 cup of white vinegar and two tablespoons of baking soda. Let the items soak in the mixture for three hours.
  9. A sponge soaked with white vinegar can remove pen marks from a blouse or even the wall.
  10. White vinegar on a sticker lifts the adhesive so you can remove it without leaving a sticky residue.

What other creative uses have you found for vinegar? Let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

If you’d rather leave the cleaning to the professionals, schedule your green cleaning service here.

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Ocean Safe Lifestyle Tips

To the millions of people that flock to the shore year-round, the ecotourism industry has this message: Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints.

There are few sights more calming and beautiful than standing on the shore looking out over an expanse of blue-green ocean. Not just magnificent to observe, the ocean is a virtual treasure trove of health and beauty nutrients and information. Scientists and marine biologists have only scratched the surface of the bounty the ocean has to offer; but, sadly their time to research may be limited since environmental damage has been taking its toll on marine ecology for decades.

Tips to Live Ocean Safe

  1. Global fish populations are rapidly being depleted due to demand, loss of habitat, and unsustainable fishing practices. When shopping or dining out, help reduce the demand for overexploited species by choosing seafood that is both healthful and sustainable.
  2. Whether you enjoy diving, surfing, or relaxing on the beach, always clean up after yourself. Explore and appreciate the ocean without interfering with wildlife or removing rocks and coral. Go even further by encouraging others to respect the marine environment or by participating in local beach cleanups.
  3. Apply chemical-free sun block. Research shows that these four synthetic ingredients — paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone, and a camphor derivative —significantly contribute to coral bleaching and are harmful to marine life, not to mention your health. Natural sun block depends on titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to deflect sun’s rays instead of absorbing them, a better choice for you and the environment.
  4. Certain products contribute to the harming of fragile coral reefs and marine populations. Avoid purchasing items such as coral jewelry, tortoiseshell hair accessories (made from hawksbill turtles), and shark products.
  5. Use eco-friendly cat litter. Traditional brands contain pathogens that are harmful to marine life. Avoid stocking your aquarium with wild-caught saltwater fish, and never release any aquarium fish into the ocean or other bodies of water, a practice that can introduce non-native species harmful to the existing ecosystem.
  6. Many institutes and organizations are fighting to protect ocean habitats and marine wildlife. Find a national organization and consider giving financial support or volunteering for hands-on work or advocacy.
  7. Practice responsible boating, kayaking, and other recreational activities on the water. Never throw anything overboard, and be aware of marine life in the waters around you.

Did we forget a tip? Talk to us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Top 10 Eco-Friendly Summer Activities for Kids

SummerActivities

Our children are such a joy; their laughter, their enthusiasm, their never ending need to be entertained…

Summer vacation can veer closer to exhausting than exhilarating if we start out unprepared, especially when it comes to keeping the whole family entertained.

With a few easy to do, eco-friendly summer activities under our belts, three months of summer becomes an ideal opportunity to enjoy the environment as a family. Not to mention the perfect chance to teach our kids how to appreciate the green, sun-filled world they live in.

GET BACK TO NATURE WITHOUT LEAVING THE CITY
New York is an exciting city to raise a family. It’s filled with the world’s biggest and best cultural accomplishments and experiences; but sometimes it can be nice to slow the pace and get to know the simpler things in life again. Activities such as visiting the zoo, nature walks through the park, taking the train out to nearby farm, or even just exploring a weekend Farmer’s Market as a family can be a wonderful way to get back to nature, even if you don’t have the time to escape the city.

Get the most out of your adventures with a little pre-trip study time as a group. Research the animals you’ll be visiting, the nature you might be passing, and the reason why local organic foods are healthier before you set out on your day trips. When kids understand why something is important they will value it more, don’t forget to tell them why it’s important to care about the things you’re showing them.

 

CAN YOU TAKE THE HEAT?
How cold do you keep your house in the summer? Air conditioning is a wonderful benefit of modern technology, especially in New York in the summer, but it can also wreak havoc on the environment.

According to a recent article in The Guardian, “The United States has long consumed more energy each year for air conditioning than the rest of the world combined. In fact, we use more electricity for cooling than the entire continent of Africa, home to a billion people, consumes for all purposes. Between 1993 and 2005, with summers growing hotter and homes larger, energy consumed by residential air conditioning in the U.S. doubled, and it leaped another 20 percent by 2010. The climate impact of air conditioning our buildings and vehicles is now that of almost half a billion metric tons of carbon dioxide per year.”

Not to mention the fact that keeping our homes unnaturally cool during the hot summer months causes stops our bodies natural adaptation to the seasonal heat.

Raise your temperature by just a few degrees and save carbon dioxide and your health.

 

WACKY GARDENING FOR KIDS
It’s a well known fact that kids love pizza! Just wait until they start growing a pizza garden. What’s in a pizza garden? Tomato, basil, and oregano are a good place to start, but do some brainstorming with your kids and find out what other great pizza toppings they want to grow. All you’ll need is a little space set aside and a few pots to create your window garden. At the end of the summer, have a pizza party with pies made from the harvest!

If you’re lucky enough to have a rooftop garden or a back yard, take advantage of the extra space and grow a sunflower maze for kids (and adults) to enjoy this summer. Sunflowers – ask for tall varieties at your local nursery – grow to be 12 to 20 feet high. A few seed packages, water, and TLC is all they need to grow into a natural play area.

 

BRING THE BEACH HOME
Getting to the shore can be an expensive and time consuming activity. Chances are you won’t be able to make it to the beach as often as your family would like. To that we say: why not bring the beach to you? Turn your outdoor space – or just a portion of it – into a sandy private beach. You’ll need bags of clean sand, which you can find at the gardening outlet or even a home improvement store, as well as a kiddy pool and a beach umbrella. Make it resemble the real thing with some sea shells, driftwood, and other items found on the shore.

WHAT DO YOU HAVE PLANNED FOR YOUR FAMILY TIME THIS SUMMER? LET US KNOW HOW YOU KEEP YOUR KIDS ENTERTAINED AT FACEBOOK, TWITTER AND PINTEREST.

 

 

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Natural Hair Care Tames Frizzy Summer Hair

If you’re anything like me, you love the summer, but hate your summer hair. Humidity, high temperatures and extra time outdoors conspire to create frizzy unmanageable locks. Instead of reaching for chemical-laden hair care products that get the job done at the expense of your health, consider trying one of the natural products that have been cropping up in the beauty aisle lately. Wouldn’t it be nice to have great hair with a clear conscience.

Jessa Blades, a natural beauty artist, has styled all kinds of hair and tested dozens of natural products. “Keep in mind that when using natural products, they, like food, don’t have as long a shelf life as conventional products. Using them within 12 months is usually recommended to make sure the product is fresh and effective,“ Blades said. She recommends looking for products with natural oils (coconut, carrot seed, etc.), natural butters (shea, cocoa, etc.), food-derived proteins and essential oils (lemon, orange, geranium, lavender, etc.).

If you’re new to natural hair care products, rest assured that products made with oils and butters won’t make your hair oily or weigh it down; in fact natural oils prevent frizz by smoothing the cuticle layer (the outer layer) of the hair. Ensuring it lays flat keeps moisture from getting inside and swelling the hair, otherwise known as frizz.

Try these bestsellers

Karen’s Body Beautiful Sweet Ambrosia Leave-in Conditioner ($16 / $24)

natural hair care

Created by Karen Tappin-Saunderson, Sweet Ambrosia is the brand’s cult favorite. Bursting with nutrients such as jojoba, avocado, arnica, calendula, echinacea, nettle & horsetail extracts, wheat germ oil and vitamin E, you won’t know whether to eat it or use it on your hair.

Works for thick kinks or curls, relaxed, color treated or dry hair. Buy it online, or at any of these locations.

Aubrey Organics NuStyle Organic Hairspray ($9.95)

natural hair careThe NuStyle hairspray comes in both regular and soft hold, so you have options. Made with organic quinoa protein and rice syrup to control fly-aways and add volume, smoothness and shine.

Buy it online or find a location near you.

Intelligent Nutrients Harmonic Hair Care Duo ($40)

natural hair care

Multifunctional daily use shampoo and conditioner that are anti-aging, antioxidant rich, volumizing, super smooth, non-frizzy, scalp and hair nourishing, non-toxic and color safe. Free of sulfates, parabens, silicones, ethoxylates, PEG, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances.

Works for every hair type. Buy it online.

Check out The Nature of Beauty for more natural hair care and skin care products.

In the meantime, avoid products that contain these dangerous chemicals:

Parabens (methyl-, propyl-, butyl-paraben, etc.)
Sodium lauryl/laureth sulfate (SLS or SLES)
Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly)
Propylene glycol
Diethanolamine (DEA) and Triethalnolamine (TEA)
Imidazoldinyl, urea and diazolidinyl urea
Silicone
Ethoxylated ingredients (those starting with PEG- or ending with –ETH)

Visit Skin Deep Cosmetics Safety Database to check the safety of your hair care and other beauty products.

What’s your go-to summer hair fix? Share a photo of you sporting your typical summer do on our Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest pages.

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Ecospirit Natural Cleaning Products: Our Development Story

ecospiritIt’s important to consider how we can develop a green lifestyle to support a healthy planet, but keep in mind that one of the most important environments to preserve is our home. If you, like most consumers, buy commercial glass cleaners, oven cleaners and detergents without a second thought you are exposing your environment to toxic stress. That’s why I created Ecospirit cleaning products for our client services. Made without chemicals, they are all-natural, organic and biodegradable. Safe for healthy homes.

In fact, I started GEC in memory of my grandmother, a housekeeper who inhaled toxic cleaning fumes for decades and ultimately died of cancer.

Commercial Cleaners Linked to Cancer

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, most commercial cleaning products contain at least four toxic household chemicals: phosphorous, nitrogen, ammonia and “volatile organic compounds,” all of which have been linked to increased allergic symptoms, asthma and cancer.

In North America, manufacturers aren’t required to list ingredients of cleaning products; avoiding that regulation by calling their list a “trade secret.”

This level of danger isn’t acceptable to me, you, or our cleaning specialists.

How we Created Non-Toxic Cleaners, Safe for Your Health and Home

Our plant-based cleaning products never expose your family, pets, home, or business to harmful chemicals or fumes. Ecospirit products are the result of plenty of research and rigorous testing.

We use a blend of coconut, palm fatty acids, and natural corn-based sugars mixed with lemon – known for its antiseptic and cleaning properties — to lift surface oils and grime. This natural blend is biodegradable so it breaks down quickly and easily with no fumes or irritation, leaving only a clean surface behind.

We combine essential oils and citrus to add sparkle and give your immune system a boost. Essential oils are a natural barrier against airborne toxins. They are antibacterial, antifungal, anti-infectious, antimicrobial, anti-parasitic, antiviral, and antiseptic.

Along with Ecospirit products we use vinegar, baking soda, lemons and good old-fashioned elbow grease to clean kitchens, bathrooms, windows and floors. If it’s a sunny day, we take advantage of the sterilizing effect of UV rays and open the blinds. Just 30 minutes in direct sunlight will affect most surfaces.

I didn’t set out to start a line of cleaning products, but as the owner of a green cleaning company, I’m adamant about only using non-toxic products that actually work.

What’s Under Your Sink?

Find out what’s in your commercial cleaning products by typing “MSDS” plus your favorite product’s name into Google.

What do you think? Talk to us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Eco-Friendly Beaches: And How to Keep Them That Way

A pristine beach is a thing of beauty, practically begging you to relax under an umbrella with nothing more on your mind than the plot of the latest bestseller. Imagine how disappointing it would be to arrive, beach blanket in tow, only to stumble onto miles of dirty sand, litter and polluted water. Sound like a nightmare? It isn’t.

Thankfully, most beaches are taking extra precautions to regulate what visitors bring in and even more importantly, what they bring out. In the meantime, visit one of these eco-friendly beaches and discover how Christopher Columbus must have felt when he stepped onto the white sand for the first time.

Top 3 Eco-Friendly Beaches in the U.S.A.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu, Hawaii

 

eco-friendly beachesPhoto: Oahu Visitors Bureau

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a wonderful example of a once polluted beach that changed its fate. Things turned around in 1990 when the state began enforcing strict rules for beachgoers by limiting the number of visitors and making an educational video about preserving the fragile ecosystem mandatory viewing before entry.

Short Sands Beach: Oswald West State Park, Ore.

eco-friendly beachesPhoto: jsigharasf/Flickr

Visitors wind through a towering forest to reach the beach, many carrying surfboards and swimming gear. Tucked into a cove and surrounded by mountains, Short Sands Beach feels like a secluded spot, hidden from the rest of the world.

Goosewing Beach Preserve, Little Compton, R.I.

eco-friendly swimwearPhoto: katybeckFlickr

A bird lovers paradise, beach, dune and coastal pond environments come together in this scenic Rhode Island spot. Owned by the Nature Conservancy of Rhode Island and other groups, Goosewing Beach makes an effort to protect its endangered shorebirds.

Be Eco-Conscious at the Beach

If you can’t make it to one of these world-famous beaches, do your part in helping to make your destination more eco-friendly.

  • Use the boardwalks and walkovers instead of walking across sensitive dunes to help reduce erosion.
  • Bring water in reusable bottles, not plastic.
  • Always pack out what you pack in. Don’t leave dinnerware, containers or cups behind.
  • Wear chemical-free sun block made with titanium dioxide and zinc oxide instead of chemical sunscreens, which can absorb into the water and poison marine and reef life.

Where is your favorite beach? Tell us or share your photos with us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

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Shopping for Eco Swimwear Just Got Easier

There was a time when the only swimsuits with a conscience were the kind that made you look good, even in the unforgiving fluorescent of the dressing room; but, now swimwear designers are catching up to the eco-fashion trend and offering consumers a range of eco-friendly bathing suits to choose from.

More so than its haute couture cousins, swimwear has a lot of work to do. If you’ve ever had a vulnerable moment in a bathing suit, you know how important it is to ensure that the material is up to the job of maintaining its shape, drying quickly, and resisting both chemicals like chlorine and natural elements like salt and sunlight. In the past, the only materials that could handle the workload were synthetic, but thankfully new textile techniques have produced sturdy natural fabrics and led to greener manufacturing practices.

Look for bathing suits that are made of cotton (organic and recycled cotton, too), or of recycled nylon or polyester. There are also some fabric brands, like Repreve that are made of a large variety of perhaps more non-traditional recycled materials.

Check the hang tags and clothing tags for green manufacturing or trade certifications such as Oeko-Tex, GOTS, and Ecocert. Each of these certifications takes into consideration parts of the textile creation process, like the sourcing of the raw materials, the chemicals involved in the cleaning and dying process, the actual dyes used, and the distribution process.

Eco-Friendly Swim Wear Options

 Jungle Gurl

Owner and former-model, Natalie Golonka, uses recycled, vintage fabrics that she finds on her travels. Her one-of-a-kind bikinis are celebrity favorites. Buy it online or find a store near you.

Odina Surf

eco swimwearOdina, which means divine creative inspiration, swimwear is made with recycled nylon and organic cotton tags. The company is committed to fair manufacturing practices in the U.S.A. and they maintain an eco-friendly office space, including the online store, which is hosted on a 100% wind powered server.

Buy it online or at these locations.

Eco Swim by Aqua Green

This 4th generation family-run company not only creates swimwear from sustainable materials but, they also participate in beach and waterway clean up projects and other ocean conservation initiatives. They received a Good Housekeeping Seal of approval after being reviewed, tested and verified by the Good Housekeeping lab team. Buy it at these retailers.

What are you wearing to the beach this summer? Send us a photo on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest!

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Eco-Friendly Sun Block Proven to Be Safer Than Chemical Sunscreen

Getting a little sunshine –just 10 to 20 minutes a day — helps our bodies generate much-needed Vitamin D, but as everyone knows, too much sun exposure can cause sunburn and lead to premature aging and skin cancer.

What Causes Sunburn?

Sunburn is caused by Ultraviolet B (UVB) rays, which are partially absorbed by the ozone layer and don’t penetrate deep into the skin. However, 90 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet radiation is in the form of Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays, which are not absorbed by the ozone layer and penetrate deep into our skin. Both types can cause skin cancer, but it’s the UVA rays that are to blame for premature aging, sun spots and other cosmetic damage.

In 1972, SPF-labeled sunscreen was introduced in the U.S., good news for sun worshipping Americans. What most bathing beauties don’t know is that SPF measures only UVB protection, leaving you vulnerable to skin damage from the more prevalent UVA rays.

The Dark Side of Sunscreen

In an effort to understand the danger that chemical sunscreens present, the Environmental Working Group compiled research from almost 400 scientific studies containing data from more than 50 government, academic and industry databases. They tested 831 sunscreen products, and discovered that more than 84 percent of those products contain high amounts of padimate-0 and avobenzone, chemicals which cause DNA damage when exposed to sunlight.

Safe Sun Block

Luckily, there are options available and, like everything, we find them by looking to nature. Sun block products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide offer natural full-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays without the added danger posed by chemical sunscreens. These products, sometimes called physical sun block –work by deflecting the sun’s rays away from the skin versus chemical sunscreen, which absorb the sun’s rays to protect skin.

Furthermore, when we wear chemical sunscreens on the beach, the products are absorbed into the water and poison marine life. According to National Geographic News, researchers from the Polytechnic University of Marche in Italy tested several popular sunscreen brands for reef and marine safety. All had four synthetic ingredients in common — paraben, cinnamate, benzophenone, and a camphor derivative — and all were found to significantly contribute to coral bleaching.

Safer choices are those with physical sun blockers and natural ingredients:

Aubrey Organics Natural Sun Care

Raw Elements USA All Natural ECO FORMULA SPF 30+ UVA/UVB True Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

Eco Logical Skin Care Body Sunscreen

Mexitan: Tropical Sands

Just a few tips about reading labels:

  • Biodegradable does not mean marine/reef safe
  • Organic does not mean chemical-free
  • Some products contain both natural and chemical sun blockers, try and stick to pure natural for your health and the health of our environment.

These are just a few great products to get you started. Let us know what other products are good choices. Talk to us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Sun bathe safely!

 

 

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Hold a Red, White, Blue, and Green 4th of July Party

As a kid the 4th of July holiday meant parties, fireworks and spending the day celebrating with friends. Who am I kidding? It still does! The only thing that’s changed from my giddy childhood celebrations is my desire to make sure green is always included with my red, white and blue merriment. Independence Day is an opportunity to demonstrate our patriotism for our country and our environment, won’t you join me in keeping this year’s 4th of July eco-friendly?

Food

The best part of 4th of July is the delicious – not necessarily healthy – food served at BBQs and parties. Will you be grilling on Thursday? The propane versus charcoal debate has raged for decades; to keep the green in our red, white and blue BBQ we take the advice of the Environment Impact Assessment Review, which tells us, “as a fuel, propane is dramatically more efficient than charcoal in its production and considerably more efficient in cooking.”

Propane’s overall carbon footprint comes in at a cool 349 kg of CO2, three times less than charcoal, a heavy 998 kg.

Cocktails

What’s a party without libations? Use this day to declare yourself independent of chemical-laden wines and spirits and try one (or two) of the many new organic wines and liquor available now. We shared a few organic cocktail recipes earlier this season, I can’t think of a better time to find a new signature drink.

Music

Keep the group lively with a rocking playlist. Americana music is ideal patriotic entertainment. Add green musicians to your set list and you can brag that even your music is eco-friendly. Take a look at these great green music suggestions.

Décor

Buck tradition and make your party BYOP – Bring Your Own Plate – to cut down on wasted paper plates and flatware. Even recycled products eventually find their way back to the landfill, so this year we decided to keep things natural and fun. Washing up gives us an opportunity to burn a few holiday calories. According to Fit Day, washing dishes burns at least 75 calories an hour. If cleaning up doesn’t fit into your schedule, take a look at our event services. The only finger you’ll need to lift is the one you use to make the reservation.

There’s nothing more patriotic than flying a flag. Did you know you’re required to “hoist it briskly and lower it ceremoniously?” Read more interesting facts about the display of flags here. Get a recycled flag from RecycledUSFlags.com or Republic Flags.

Fireworks

The dazzling display of lights should be the perfect ending to a great day, but according to the Mother Nature Network, that dazzling display can take a toll on both your health and the environment: “fireworks often contain carcinogenic or hormone-disrupting substances that can seep into soil and water, not to mention the lung-clogging smoke they release and plastic debris they scatter,” says Russell McLendon.

Eco-friendly fireworks made without the bad stuff are on the horizon. A team of scientists at the US Army’s Pyrotechnics Technology and Prototyping Division at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey, USA, has found more eco-friendly replacements for one of the troublesome chemical components of fireworks, the so-called oxidizer that sets off the explosion. Until safer fireworks are commercially available, the greenest thing you can do is attend a public fireworks display instead of setting off your own.

What are you doing to celebrate a green 4th of July? Share your party photos and ideas with us on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.

We wish you a very safe and happy 4th of July!

As an essential business, Greenhouse Eco-Cleaning is continuing to serve our customers during the COVID-19 emergency. Learn about the steps we’ve taken to protect our customers and employees and our Coronavirus Cleaning and Disinfection Services that can provide extra peace of mind during these challenging times.