Natural Cleaning Tips For Healthy Living - September 2013

Create and maintain a clean environment of your very own.

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A Community Supported Kitchen: Good for the Body and Soul

Eating better has come a long way in the past few years. First we enjoyed organic produce from the local supermarket, then neighborhood farmer’s markets became common installments on the weekends followed by the increasing popularity of community sponsored agriculture (CSA) in which we could enjoy produce straight from our favorite farm. Now we can add another development to this eating well movement: Community Supported Kitchens (CSK).

In the same local, natural focus as the farmer’s markets and CSA the community supported kitchens are a membership-based collaborative dinner project. As a member you will split the overall ingredient costs with other members, plus share a portion of the work in creating the meals. On any given night, you might find yourself cooking, serving or cleaning up. Think gourmet, members-only soup kitchen for health conscious gourmands. Sound like a lot to handle on top of your other responsibilities? No worries, in general members only need to commit to one or two nights a month, depending on the size of the CSK you join.

The benefits of turning to a CSK instead of the latest posh restaurant are many. Namely, it’s fun. Cooking and cleaning with a group is easy and social. Not only do the fresh, healthy ingredients guarantee a great gastronomical experience, but the innate community aspect of the CSK ensures that you’ll meet new people, network with an expanded social circle and even learn new things in the process. You won’t get that at a reservations-only eating establishment.

Social benefits aside, the CSK concept is budget friendly. For less than $5 a meal members can get multi-course meals 2 or 3 times a week. Costs are kept low by buying ingredients in bulk and staffing the kitchen with members. We’re all about reducing this month and this is a great way to reduce the amount of money wasted on expensive restaurants and convenience meals.

Of course, the health benefits can’t be ignored. Preparing and eating foods with ingredients straight from the farm gives a whole new meaning to the culinary farm-to-fork trend. And this isn’t a nameless, faceless farm supplying your meal. A CSK builds on the community supported agriculture concept and ensures you have a personal relationship with the farm and farmer supplying your ingredients.

Beyond the myriad benefits you personally receive, CSKs offer several benefits to the overall good of the community. When people are unhealthy, we all suffer. Insurance costs rise, community spirit and morale drops, businesses suffer…the list goes on and on. When more people have access to affordable, healthy nutrition we all thrive.

We invite you to start or join a CSK in your neighborhood today. Go here to find out how to get a CSK started or where you can join a group. Don’t forget to post pictures of what you’re making!

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How to Hire a Professional Green Cleaning Service

Does this situation sound familiar? Your home and office space need cleaning and you’re ready to hire a professional green cleaning service to maintain a clean, toxin-free environment on a regular schedule. Yes? Good thinking!

5 things to consider when hiring a green cleaning company:

1. Confirm only natural cleaning products will be used

A reputable green cleaning service, will use only all-natural products on the job.  This is important because traditional cleaning products contain volatile organic compounds ( VOCs), which can lead to serious illnesses, and even cancer. Natural products work just as effectively and use organic oils to enhance the aroma of the product instead of dangerous synthetic fragrances. This becomes a bigger concern if your home or office includes family members or employees that suffer from allergies or sensitive health issues. Ask what products will be used and research the ingredients. For example, we use Ecospirit, a proprietary brand of all natural products made without any chemicals.

2. Ensure that they practice what they preach

One of the biggest elements of the going green movement is eliminating waste, reducing landfills, and conserving. By choosing a cleaning company that uses green practices, you know that they are going to implement techniques that conserve electricity and water, and use resources wisely. Green cleaning companies know how to use reusable items when possible, make their own natural cleaning products, and use recycled or recyclable packaging materials

3. Require proof of insurance

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. 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 as well as the employee. You don’t run the risk of being sued by a cleaner because, as an employee, they are protected by workers comp insurance. That should come as a relief if you don’t relish the thought of hiring a cheap cleaning service only to lose your home or business in a lawsuit.

4. Ask if they are licensed, bonded, and insured

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.

5. Understand the difference between cash workers and employees

You have the right to request to see a background check for any cleaning technician who will be granted access to your home or office. Here is the important difference between cash workers and employees: 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. Employees are paid a living wage and protected with adequate insurance. Ultimately, our communities and collective quality of life hinges on the proliferation of underserved workers versus those who work with companies that hold themselves accountable for their staff.

We offer a variety of service plans from regular maintenance to pre-and-post party clean-ups for homes and businesses. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

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Clean Up Your Cleaning Products: Simplify Your Life

It’s tempting to buy a cleaning product for every appliance and room, but did you know that too many cleaning products are actually making your chores harder and more dangerous?

Traditional products are sold on the warning that your bathroom, kitchen and floors will never be bacteria-free or clean enough without a specific cleaning product. In fear, we blindly snatch up the latest sprays, shines and mops afraid that without them our homes will fall prey to the dangerous toxins we’re trying to avoid.

The truth is – and this should come as a relief to the budget conscious among us – that you don’t need dozens of different products and appliances to purify your home of toxins and dirt.

Green cleaning services and products keep the mantra: reduce, reuse, recycle in mind at all times. Instead of paper towels – a product you used to purchase over and over – we use microfiber cloths, which are better for the environment and your wallet. They clean better and are washable so you reduce environmental waste.

Natural cleaning products, such as Ecospirit products, can be used all over the house safely. The Ecospirit line offers four products for every room and surface in your home and office. Four products. That’s all you need. How great will it be to save money on cleaning products during your next shopping trip!

In addition to going farther, natural cleaning products are safer for you and those people around you. Traditional household cleaners contain what the Environmental Protection Agency has termed as Volatile Organic Compounds, or VOCs. VOCs are simply a group of the most hazardous compounds found within these products. They include ammonia, nitrogen, phosphorus, as well as many others. These chemicals are found in abundance in most cleaning product meant to whiten, degrease, and disinfect.

As these cleaning products are rinsed down your drains, flushed down the toilet, or added to your trash pick-up by you or your cleaning company, they find their way into the ground water and the local water supplies such as lakes, rivers, and other waterways. Even when the water passes through your local water treatment facility, chemicals such as phosphorus, nitrogen, and ammonia are not removed like other pollutants. Instead, they remain in the water affecting the health of the local community as well as local plant and animal life.

Ecospirit and other natural cleaning products contain organic, biodegradable ingredients that aren’t harmful to your health or the earth. Ultimately, the decision to clean up your cleaning products is important for your health, as well as the health of the plants, wildlife and people around you.

If the whole thing seems like a little too much effort, we recommend you hire a cleaning service, and ensure they use only healthy cleaning products that will keep your space clean and your health protected. Ready to schedule your free consultation?

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Surprising Ways to Green Clean With Baking Soda

This month we turn the spotlight on baking soda, a favorite natural cleaning ingredient throughout history! Chances are you already know about baking soda’s ability to kill odors – you probably have an open box of the stuff under your sink or in your fridge right now – but did you know that it can also prevent grimy build-up and odor causing bacteria?

Check out all the amazing things this 100% natural ingredient is capable of when it comes to cleaning up messes! Thanks Mother Earth News for the handy tips and tricks here.

  • Remove scuff marks
  • Sprinkle floor with baking soda and wipe clean with a warm, damp cloth.
  • Remove carpet odors
  • Sprinkle baking soda on the floor, wait 10 minutes, and vacuum away. This is a better (and cheaper!) choice than traditional carpet cleaning products that leave dangerous residue and aren’t safe for animals or children.
  • Make surfaces sparkle
  • Mix baking soda and water and until it becomes a paste. Using microfiber cloth, scour tubs, sinks, countertops and dishes with this.
  • Remove stains off counters or other surfaces
  •  Mix 1 part water with 3 parts baking soda to scrub away unwanted stains and messes.
  • Keep your garbage area fresh-smelling
  • Sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the can and into each new garbage bag to control odors before they start.
  • Wash stubborn dishes
  • Hate dealing with burnt or caked-on food? Just sprinkle baking soda over the dishes, add water and soak for a few hours to loosen the food.
  • Make whites whiter and colors pop
  • Add 1/2 cup baking soda to your laundry to help remove dirt and grease and make colors look brighter.

Baking soda isn’t limited to cleaning and odor removal. It also offers some surprising beauty benefits as well. Discover how you can use baking soda to make yourself as well as your house achieve your best look!

Have you been using baking soda in your cleaning routine? Let us in on your tips and tricks!

September Garden Do’s: Planning for Spring

Did you know that September is an important month for your urban garden? This is the time to plan for the future. Think ahead to the spring and summer and carefully cultivate the future garden of your dreams!

If you’ve got a large rooftop or backyard garden wait for the temperatures to cool so the soil is less than 60 degrees to the touch and plant spring flowers such as crocuses, anemones, daffodils, hyacinths and tulips. Dig three times deeper than the diameter of the bulbs.

Consider these tips from our gardening friends at MSN Real Estate:

  • For an abundant tulip display, place 10 to 20 bulbs in a hole one foot in diameter; plant so that the bulbs aren’t touching.
  • Irises and other early-blooming perennials still can be divided this month. Give them plenty of water after replanting.
  • Dig up and divide or transplant crowded perennials.
  • For swatches of fall color, plant mums, winter pansies, and flowering kale and cabbage.
  • Take cuttings from geraniums, 2 to 4 inches, for indoor winter flowering.
  • Plant perennials from seed by scattering them in an open bed or in individual rows. In the spring, the seedlings can be moved to more permanent locations.
  • Bring household plants inside before cool weather damages them. If you’ve already cultivated a thriving indoor garden, move plants away from unprotected windows and open drafts so they don’t risk frost or cold damage.

If you’re looking ahead to organic holiday decorations, start “seasoning” poinsettias and Thanksgiving and Christmas cactuses in mid-September. They’ll need 10 hours of bright daylight or four hours of direct sun, plus 14 hours of night darkness. If you’re raising cactuses, they need a cool environment (50 to 60 degrees), while poinsettias prefer a warmer 65 to 72 degrees.

If you’re involved in corporate gardening – schools, community projects, nonprofit gardens – you’ll need to use this month to layout next year’s landscape design and overall appearance. Planning months ahead is a great way to demonstrate the importance of long-term thinking and future planning to kids and underserved communities who live day to day.

Are you planning your first urban garden? If you’re planting outside, you’ll need to watch for lead deposits in the soil. Lead is not biodegradable so it is a long-term source of contamination. Do some research into the planting site using the city lot number to check land use and ownership records at city hall. Of course, don’t try to rehab the soil if you know for a fact that it was a former toxic zone because despite your best efforts it won’t be suitable for growing food.

 Let us know what you’re planting for next year!

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Green Tree Textiles: Featured Green Small Business

small businessAs a green cleaning business we’re big supporters of other green businesses who are making a difference. Every month we’ll feature a green business in our neighborhood and around the greater New York area. This month, we’re thrilled to turn our spotlight on Green Tree Textiles, a recycling service that supports the disadvantaged and homeless members of our community, as well as the environment. As they say: they are a recycling company for people not for profit. We think that’s pretty amazing. 

A recent addition to the green business movement – they were founded in January 2012 – Green Tree collects unwanted textile materials including clothing, shoes, accessories and household linens that would otherwise go to already overburdened landfills. The difference between Green Tree and other charitable organizations is that they do not sell any of the items they collect for a profit.

“Any materials we receive that are usable or wearable are donated to our charity partners and distributed to those in need,” says founder Serge Lazarev. “Additionally, we seek out partnerships with clothing manufactures and are developing relationships for a more sustainable use of textile scraps.”

Fortunately, we are proud to announce that GEC is a new partner to this exciting group. We are pleased to be able to support their cause by maintaining a collection box in our office for our clients and visitors to donate unwanted textiles. As you bundle up for the approaching winter, remember that there are people right here in our community that need your help.

The organization’s “GREEN BOXES” are located in a variety of residential and business locations throughout Manhattan, Bronx, Brooklyn and New Jersey. The boxes are custom made and use recycled wood.

To date they have collected over 30,000 pounds of clothing. This month please help us support the incredible work they’re doing by dropping by our office and donating any textiles you no longer use. If you’re a current client you can also let our cleaning technicians know that you’d like to donate items. It’s the support of environmentally conscious and caring people like you that will make all the difference to someone in need this season. Thank you.

If you’d like to host a Green Box in your business, please call 908-245-9300 or visit greentreetextiles.org.

Can you recommend a small green business we should spotlight next month?

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.