While Black Friday seems to still get a lot of post-Thanksgiving buzz, it is Small Business Saturday that really gets us excited. Why? In addition to GreenHouse Eco-Cleaning being a small business, supporting local businesses is a great way to invest in those places that make our neighborhoods unique, strengthen our local economies and save the planet.
Yes, save the planet. How?
According to TreeHugger.com, where we shop and how we get there have serious implications. “The best car-related innovation we have is not to improve the car, but eliminate the need to drive it everywhere we go,” writes Alex Steffan. Creating more “walkable” cities is one of the “single most potent weapon we have against climate change, rising energy costs and environmental degradation,” suggests Peter Calthrope.
So, this year we encourage you to celebrate Small Business Saturday by visiting some of our favorite little spots in Brooklyn:
Acorn—A Brooklyn Toy Shop
Acorn is committed to offering heirloom quality products that are crafted using environmentally sustainable practices and materials made by artisans who receive a living wage for their work. In addition, they donate a percentage of sales to both national and international schools and organizations that provide services for children.
Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store
Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store is filled with really unique items—many with great local appeal (we love the “Brooklyn I Love You” tote). In addition, they often offer suggestions for how to best utilize what you have purchased—from recipes to trip ideas. “In this way, our customers are not just buying a product but are buying an adventure as well,” writes the site.
When you walk into Bed-Vyne, you will immediately be attracted to the rustic appearance of the reclaimed wood under your feet. This wine (and brew) store is a reflection of its eclectic neighborhood—supporting local artists, musicians and chefs in addition to wine and beer.
The only store that exclusively sells products made in Brooklyn, you can find everything from tasty treats to comfy apparel. In addition to being a great place to pick up a local gift, By Brooklyn has become a great community space for local artists to showcase their work—and they offer their space as a private event venue.
Holstee creates art “that inspires reflection and words that encourage action” with words from their “manifesto” imprinted on a variety of items that resonate with entrepreneurs and start ups. Not surprising to discover Holstee also offers up their space to freelancers and entrepreneurs with rentable desk space and workshops.
Talk to us: What is your favorite small business in Brooklyn or NYC?
As you make your final plans for Thanksgiving, we want you to consider giving thanks to our planet by reducing your waste this holiday season. Here are 5 things you can do to reduce Thanksgiving waste:
According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, planning menus in advance can limit waste. In addition to outlining foods you will prepare, also consider the number of guests you will be serving—this will make it easier to buy the correct amount of ingredients. Entertaining a Thanksgiving potluck? Don’t hesitate in being a little bossy when it comes to telling guests what to bring in order to avoid a table filled with multiple versions of cranberry sauce.
Take a quick look inside your refrigerator and pantry to see what items you already have on hand and then make a detailed grocery list of what you need (fill up on locally-grown produce when possible). For pantry items you will be using all holiday season (think flour), consider buying in bulk. This will not only save you money, but fuel—less trips to the store for missing ingredients.
Reuse, Reuse, Reuse
Even if you are serving a crowd, consider using reusable dinnerware or look for sustainable disposable options such as these. If you are purchasing new dinnerware, think small—using smaller plates will help your guests avoid overfilling their plates with excess food. With nature brimming with color this time of year, reuse gourds, pinecones and leaves to decorate your home. When the holiday celebration is over, these natural items can be composted.
Use Energy-Efficient Lighting
In addition to using energy-efficient bulbs for indoor and outdoor decorating, opt for a candle-only dinner experience to decrease the amount of energy you are using. Use unscented candles to avoid competing with the delicious food scents and add candlelight to your outdoor space as well. We love these tin can luminaries on a porch or walkway.
Reuse Your Leftovers
Ask your guests to bring their own reusable containers for leftovers and have them throw food scraps into your compost pile. Remember that meat and dairy products should not be composted, so keep the kitchen scraps to things such as potatoes, green beans and cranberry sauce. Consider donating any unused canned goods or non-perishable items to a local food bank or homeless shelter. Click here for a list in NYC.
image courtesy of flickr CC/StarMama
Talk to us: How will you be reducing Thanksgiving waste this year?
With the above normal temperatures we’ve been experiencing this fall, it is easy to forget that soon cold weather will come—bringing with it snow and ice. As we prepare our homes and ourselves for Old Man Winter, take time to prepare your four-legged companion as well.
Here are 5 ways to protect your pet in colder weather:
Get Out the Petroleum Jelly
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), massaging petroleum jelly into paw pads before going outside helps protect from salt and chemical agents. Better yet, throw on some booties: “Booties provide even more coverage and can also prevent sand and salt from getting lodged between bare toes and causing irritation,” suggests the site.
Throw on a Sweater
Just like people, pets’ cold tolerance can vary and if your four-legged friend seems bothered by the cold (especially true of they have a short coat), consider putting on a sweater before your daily walk. “Have several on hand, so you can use a dry sweater or coat each time your dog goes outside,” says American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF). “Wet sweaters or coats can actually make your dog colder.” There are some really cute eco-friendly options from OliveGreenDog.com.
Wipe Down Your Dog
Even if your dog is wrapped up in a sweater and booties, as soon as you come inside from your walk, thoroughly wipe off your dog’s legs, stomach and paws. “Salt, antifreeze or other chemicals could hurt your dog if she ingests them while licking her paws,” says PetFinder.com.
Increase Food & Water
“Pets who spend a lot time outdoors need more food in the winter because keeping warm depletes energy,” writes the Humane Society. In addition, lower humidity levels in your home could cause your pet to lose more fluids so be sure to routinely check your pet’s water supply. Also, consider switching to plastic food and water bowls. “When the temperature is low, your pet’s tongue can stick and freeze to metal,” says the Humane Society.
Adjust Sleeping Arrangements
Pets will often change their sleeping location when temperatures rise or fall. Make sure your pet has a cozy bed with a warm blanket that is away from any drafty areas such as windows and doors. Harry Barker has some great eco-friendly options.
Talk to us: What changes do you make to your pet care when winter weather arrives?
image courtesy of flickr CC/Rodrigo Paredes
Keeping your littlest Thanksgiving guests entertained during the big holiday meal is not always an easy task. And, as soon as they find out they have been relegated to the “kids’ table”, you may have a turkey-sized revolt on your hands. This year, make the kids’ table so fun and exciting that even your adult guests will be wishing they were a bit younger.
Make It Kid-Sized
The very best way to create the perfect Thanksgiving kids’ table is to make everything comfortable for your kid-sized guests. If possible, select tables and chairs that allow kids to reach the tabletop and use smaller plates and utensils so they can feed themselves (opt for shatter-proof dishes!). Another great kid-sized touch? Have each little guest make a “hand turkey” and write their name on the front along with something they are thankful for on the back.
Roll out the Kraft Paper
Kraft paper is a great alternative for a table cloth at the kids’ table this Thanksgiving. Many office supply stores offer a recycled Kraft paper option or consider contacting your local newspaper—many give away their “end rolls” for free. You can either spread out the paper over the entire table or trim the paper to 11 x 17 and make individual placemats using this cute Turkey Place Mat template from MarthaStewart.com. Add some crayons and you have a great way to keep little ones occupied during your holiday meal.
Create a Fun Centerpiece
We love this idea from Pottery Barn Kids: Turkey Table Toppers. Cut and decorate construction paper feathers and glue a skewer to the back of each one. You can either insert skewers into the top of a loaf of bread or put them in a glass mason jar—either way, they will look like the bright feathers of a turkey’s tail.
Keep Kids Busy
Kids of all ages (we’re talking to you, adults) love to do crafts while waiting for dinner to arrive. Refrain from putting out the glue sticks and glitter (you’ll thank us later) and opt instead for colorful beads and string for bracelets (check out this cool corn kernel jewelry and garland idea). Since the crayons are already out for the Kraft paper fun, download templates for Thanksgiving Finger Puppets and have kids decorate them on their own.
Give Them a Treat
Hungry children and a room full of adults do not always mix. Make sure stomachs stay full even if dinner is running a little late by creating these adorable Turkey Treat Cups. You can fill them with popcorn, small carrots, apple slices or other fun and healthy treats. Bonus: Have kids write their names on the bottom of their Turkey Treat Cups and fill them up later in the day when hunger may strike again.
Talk to us: What is one way you keep kids entertained during your Thanksgiving gathering?
image via HGTV.com
Ideas for Fall Container Gardens That We Are Loving
Don’t let the cooler weather stop you from adding a splash of color to your entryway or patio. The grasses, foliage and blooms of fall are the perfect accent to your November décor—inside and outside of your home.
Here are 3 ideas for container gardens that we are loving this season:
Experiment with Bright Colors
Who knew so many bright colors could live happily in one space? Fall is the perfect time to experiment with blooms and berries that compliment each other—such as mixing blue with orange and yellow with purple. Checkout this color wheel from Proven Winners to find interesting combinations. Bonus: Some plants (like sedum) can be planted in your yard after your container is done flourishing. (via Southern Living)
Add Some Height
Ornamental grasses have beautiful color in the fall and bring great height to your containers—perfect for filling up a spot in the corner of your porch or patio. Grasses that vary in color and texture will add great interest to any container. Bonus: You can dry your ornamental grass for numerous interior holiday projects such as wreaths and centerpieces. Click here for instructions. (via Midwest Living)
Pumpkins and gourds come in all shapes, sizes and color making them the perfect addition to low containers such as this one. Mix them with frost-tolerant plants such as Swiss chard (A) and coralbells (B). Bonus: You can easily turn your gourds and pumpkins into containers for your fall plants. Click here for instructions. (via Better Homes & Gardens)
Talk to us: What are you planting in your fall containers this year?
One way to make Thanksgiving a bit more manageable this year: organize your pots and pans. Before you are knee-deep into recipes and shopping lists, now is the perfect time to do a little reorganization of your primary Turkey Day tools. Here are 5 steps you should take to get your pots and pans organized before the holiday season even begins:
Gather all of your pots and pans in the middle of the kitchen to see what you have—or what you may be missing. Discard pots and pans that are no longer usable (look for nonstick coating that is flaking, etc.), donate items you no longer use and match lids with their partners. Earth911.com has some great tips for how to recycle your old cookware.
Group items by purpose (bakeware, stove top, etc.) and frequency of use, putting those items you use regularly in an easy-to-reach location. For items you may not use often (think large roasters), consider moving them outside of the kitchen area.
There are so many great organizers for both shelves and drawers. We like this pot and lid organizer from Bed Bath & Beyond because it makes it easy to match the right lid with the right pan. We also love this DIY idea: install a tension rod in a drawer to keep pot lids from rattling around or getting lost or add them vertically in a shelf to create storage for cookie sheets.
Use Your Space Wisely
If your kitchen area is small, you may be pressed for extra drawer and shelf space. Look at unused spaces such as the side of a cabinet or island (install a towel rack with some S-hooks to hang pans), an empty wall (hang a peg board) and even the ceiling (you can use a curtain rod to hang them over a window just like a valance!).
Roll with It
If you are really tight on space, invest in a roll in cart like this one from Wayfair.com. In addition to adding extra storage to your home, this type of cart also gives you additional counter space for cooking and you can transport finished dishes to your guests—instant buffet!
Talk to us: What will be your most used pot or pan this holiday season?
image courtesy of flickr CC/Brandice Schnabel
A Kitchen Backsplash Helps Protect Your Walls, Cuts Down on Cleaning
Adding a backsplash to your kitchen is a great way to add a pop of color and style to even the smallest of kitchen spaces. But, they are more than just something pretty to look at while you cook. A kitchen backsplash helps protect your walls from damage (especially water damage!), cuts down on your cleaning and prevents stains. With today’s eco-friendly options and easy DIY instructions, you can have a new look by the end of this weekend.
Here are some of our favorite eco-friendly materials:
Reclaimed Pallet Wood Backsplash – this is a very interesting method choice for an eco-friendly backsplash. The pallets should first be cut down into 18-inch planks, cleaned thoroughly (unless you choose to stain them), and then adhered to the wall with liquid nails. You’ll get a rustic, textured and very unique look. Best of all – this look is practically free!
Bamboo – If you’re going for a tropical or natural look in your kitchen, bamboo would be a perfect backsplash! You can find rolls of bamboo in most home centers, simply cut it to the right size and attach it to the all with thin nails or with construction adhesive.
Recycled Tiles – Recycled tiles come in a variety of colors, sizes and styles. Whether it’s glass or ceramic, you can find all types of recycled tiles to use as part of the backsplash and you will create the backsplash just like you would any other tile job, finishing with grout. If you do use grout – be sure to pick grout that is labeled low or no-VOC.
Recycled Aluminum – Flat sheets of aluminum bring a bright look to the kitchen. Coming from all sorts of materials – cars, computers, airplanes, cans, cookware and wires, aluminum is one of the most re-used materials in the United States. Recycling it only requires 5% of the energy used to make it new.
Wine Cork Backsplash – You’ve saved all those wine corks, and you’ve never known what to do with them – now you can use them as your backsplash! With a plywood template and contact cement, you can easily create a unique wine cork backsplash. You’ll need to cut your wine corks in half with a scroll saw and also need outlet extenders, but one blogger laid out the step-by-step instructions and it’s such a great idea!
Talk to us: What kind of material are you using for your new kitchen backsplash?
The dustiest places are in spaces you never even think to clean.
Tables are dusted, floors are swept—your home is the picture of dust-free heaven, right? You may be surprised to learn that some of the dustiest places in your house are in spaces you never even think to clean. Here are 6 of the dustiest places in your home and how you can keep them as dust-free as the rest of your spotless abode.
Top of the Fridge
“The top of the fridge can be a habitat for dust and dead bugs,” says RealtyToday.com. Grab a clean microfiber cloth and wipe away the dust on a regular basis. At least once a month, wipe with an all-purpose cleaner like our Ecospirit brand or make your own by mixing ½ cup vinegar and ¼ cup baking soda into ½ gallon of water.
When you are done with the top of your fridge, it’s time to dust the fridge coils. Unplug your fridge, grab a vacuum’s brush attachment and vacuum all loose dust from the coils. Using a damp paintbrush (yes, paintbrush), pick up remaining dust.
While you may regularly wash sheets and linens, your mattress is home to dust mites and dead skin (eww). According to Good Housekeeping, the easiest way to tackle the dust is to use the upholstery tool on your vacuum to go over the top and sides of the mattress and box spring. If you have a garment steamer, go over the mattress with the steamer before you vacuum to help kill and remove dust mites.
Dust that accumulates on your ceiling fan gets into the air instantly. Spray a soft cloth with an all-purpose cleaner (see above), and wipe the top of each blade until all the dust is removed. Be sure that the fan is unplugged from the power source and has come to a complete stop before dusting.
Windows are dust magnets so dusting your window sills should be high on your cleaning priority list. Use a vacuum brush extension to remove loose dirt and then dip a soft cloth into soapy water to pick up what is left. Wipe with a dry rag when you are done.
Under Your Rug
Every once in awhile, roll up your rugs and sweep or vacuum the surface UNDER the rugs. This tends to be an area where dust, dirt and fibers accumulate, especially in heavily lived-in rooms where things are often dropped and forgotten.
Talk to us: What is the dustiest place in your home?