Living Green Values, special guest post by Susan Howson

Living Green Values

The first thing I’ve learned from the folks at World Class Cleaning is how much I hate cleaning. When Stephanie first came over to check out my house, I kept apologetically explaining that I’m just really busy, and she kept (politely) telling me to chill. There’s nothing wrong with outsourcing something that you’re not good at, don’t feel like spending your weekends doing, hate nagging your family about, and generally never want to have to think about ever again.

But the second thing I learned was the value of a green clean. Not just from Stephanie, who believes it’s not just good for the planet, it’s good for her employees, and good for her clients, but the constant reading and writing I do in my profession, media. Sure, I recycled and tried to buy organic, but if I’m being honest, that was the extent of it. But that twinge of satisfaction in knowing that you (or, sometimes, the person you have carefully chosen to do the thing for you!) have done just a little extra to make the world better—frankly, it’s addicting.

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A cycle worth breaking

Friends, my addiction has taken over. I started looking at other parts of my life—the things I buy, the things I make, and, most importantly, the things I throw away. And without even realizing it, I was slowly, one step at a time, changing aspects of my lifestyle, and clearing a lot of mental clutter in the process. Yes, I still vote my environmental conscience, and yes, I am aware that it’s going to take huge societal and legislative actions to make a significant difference in the health of humanity. In the meantime, though, there’s absolutely no excuse for not living my values.

Plus, it’s super fun, as I am about to demonstrate.

This series will focus on practical steps to reduce your footprint—stuff you can truly do without too much of a financial investment. I’ve found that steps are the most important concept. Try to do it all at once, and you’ll just frustrate yourself and empty your bank account, but one little part of your life at a time, and progress is made.

Episode 1: Composting Is a Whole Lot Easier and Less Gross than You’re Imagining Right Now

Food, when it’s dumped in a landfill, sits and rots unhelpfully and releases methane, if it can even get to oxygen at all, what with its normal prison of plastic garbage bag (we’ll get to those in another article). Yard waste, too, doesn’t help a landfill much. Paper, when recycled, loses a lot of its integrity and can only be made into inferior products (fun fact: if you want a 1:1 recycling ratio, you’d pretty much have to get everything in aluminum).

But all of these things mixed together in a dark, opaque container with holes in it, turned occasionally (or even just left alone), can turn into something magical—more food.

And listen, you don’t have to garden. I fail spectacularly at gardening about 50% of the time because it takes a lot of effort and I have all these books to read instead. But like me, I bet you know someone who gardens. Even better, I bet you know someone who vegetable gardens. Keep a compost pile going and all the food you eat and leaves you toss and papers you shred could be harvested for their nutrients, stuck on someone else’s garden bed, and turn you into the grateful recipient of an armload of kale, squash, tomatoes, or whatever your green thumb pal is getting into this year. Did I mention, that armload will most likely be free? All because you kept your trash in a holey bin.

About that bin:

Here is the cheapest idea I could come up with, and I adapted it from one of the books I read instead of gardening.

  1. Go to a hardware store and buy a big black opaque plastic trash can with a lid. If you don’t have one already, get some sort of bungee cord or rubber strap with S-hooks that you can use to hold the lid down so small animals don’t move in. Then, do yourself the ultimate cool favor and buy a small pitchfork. You will learn to love this pitchfork, and wielding it will make you feel powerful and earthy at the same time. Trust me.
  2. Put a big bit on a drill (I had to get help with this because I also don’t know about tools—I promise I am good at some things, but so far we have mentioned none of them). Drill holes all over the trash can, underneath it, and in the lid.
  3. Put the whole contraption somewhere outside on a couple of bricks or stones so air can flow underneath it—if you plan on turning your compost regularly with your new pitchfork (I’m so excited for you) it probably won’t even smell much. And since you won’t be putting animal products in it, it doesn’t really attract flies and other bugs I hate.
  4. Throw some soil in there, maybe some dead leaves lying around, and/or your shredding.
  5. Simultaneously, you’ll need some sort of bin for your countertop. I like this one because it’s not too heavy and a four-billion-pound ceramic one I had for awhile taught me that I value light things. But you can use a tupperware container or anything, really. Airtight is best, because ants are real.
  6. Start collecting all your compostable trash with this handy list
    1. Food scraps that do not include animal products unless those animal products are eggshells, which are fantastic for soil.
    2. Dryer lint (yes!)
    3. Paper napkins and paper towels (we’ll stop using those in another episode as well, but sometimes these things gravitate into your house unavoidably).
    4. Cotton pads (like the kind you use for applying or removing beauty products, but only if they’re actual cotton and not polyester—guess what! This will be in another episode too.)
    5. Parchment paper (but not waxed paper)
    6. Bits of cotton string, silk or cotton dental floss (yet another episode, and I’m not joking), that kind of thing
  7. When it’s full, take it outside, throw it in the mothership container.

  8. Turn with your new best friend the pitchfork every few days. As it all breaks down in the middle of the pile, the gases released by the bacteria get everything really hot at the core, so you can turn it every couple of days for speediest results and get those cooler outer layers in on the action. Or don’t turn it at all—if you don’t mind waiting a year for compost. I have done this, too, and it still works.
  9. Continue adding “brown” stuff (that’s dead leaves and uncoated paper or bits of cardboard preferably treated with only natural dyes). Ideally, brown stuff should make up a larger percentage, although I never pay attention.
  10. Bask in the glow that comes from patching up a couple of little holes in the leaking sieve that is our culture of wastefulness. If anyone tries to give you grief, please show them the latest pics of the Great Garbage Patch, which is roughly twice the size of Texas and made up of what appears to be trillions of Aquafina bottles and the wasted dreams of our grandchildren.

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Extra credit: Go down the vermicomposting wormhole. Worms are, they say, a very fast and efficient way to turn garbage into healthy dirt. I am not there yet, but I have a feeling based on my internet search history that I will not be able to resist the call for long.

What do you do when your pile has transformed from a slippery mess to dry, crumbly, beautiful dirt studded with bits of eggshells, supposing you don’t want to bestow it upon some lucky garden-friendly friend? Mix it in the soil of whatever you’re planting, and use it as mulch when your plants are established to add crazy good nutrients, keep in moisture, and discourage weeds. Or, you can even steep some in a bucket of water and make “compost tea,” which you can use to give your plants a drink of the healthiest water they’ve ever tasted—after you’ve finished grossing out your partner by pretending you’re going to drink it yourself.

And if you learn some easy vegetable gardening tips in the meantime, by all means let me know. Even just so I can drop off my compost. My tomato seedlings are, predictably, looking fairly unwell.

Chemical-free, mosquito-free — how to rid yourself of mosquitoes the natural way

As the days grow longer and warmer, it's time to consider what you can do now to make your home more enjoyable during the spring and summer seasons. We've got some really quick, really easy tips for you to consider for your mosquito-reduction mission.

  • Reduce breeding sites
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    It's spring, it's been raining... any empty buckets, wheelbarrows, anything that can collect water has definitely been filling up over the course of the last few weeks. In short, this is where mosquitoes lay their eggs. Standing, still water is the perfect home for mosquito larvae, who live off the algae and other tiny organisms that are creating their own miniature ecosystem in that empty five-gallon bucket sitting next to your compost heap. It's time to dump all the water out!
  • In case you need to keep standing water around your home...

    ...In that backyard birdbath, for example, then be sure to change the water weekly. Or consider enlisting the aid of microscopic friends, such as Bacillus thuringiensis serotype israelensis (Bti) -- a group of bacteria used as biological control agents for larvae stages of certain dipterans. Bti produces toxins which are effective in killing various species of mosquitoes, fungus gnats, and blackflies, while having almost no effect on other organisms.  Just search Google for "bti bacteria" and click around and you'll find what you're looking for!
  • Try essential oils
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    Consider making your own spray to use when you're sitting out on your front porch, or even consider making a fragrance blend specifically for you to wear when you're  going to be outdoors in mosquito-infested areas. Essential oils such as citronella, peppermint, lemon, eucalyptus, basil, clove, thyme, lemongrass, geranium, rosemary, and lavender have been proven to repel mosquitoes.
  • Make mosquito predators at home in your yard
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    Bats and birds LOVE to eat mosquitoes! A lot of people are afraid of bats but they are harmless to you and actually quite helpful if you factor in their tremendous appetite for mosquitoes. Less than 1/2 of 1% of all bats are likely to contract rabies, so that's not a legitimate fear, either. So consider installing bat and bird boxes around your home!
  • Get a little help from your friends!
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    A mosquito, in its lifetime, is likely to travel as far as 2 miles from its point of hatching -- even further in cases of strong wind. That's a far way for them to go but it's not much for you -- if you're able to recruit your neighbors and friends to follow some of these practices.

So go forth, and spread the word!


Four Benefits of Green Cleaning!

Four reasons to consider joining the green cleaning movement. Let's take a look!

  • Better Air Quality
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    As mentioned in our last blog post, according to this EPA article, not only are people [these days] spending about 90% of their time indoors, but indoor air pollution is often to 5 times worse than what we experience outside our homes -- and a lot of this is due to built up residue from toxic conventional cleaning products. Go green and keep your air clean!
  • No Questionable Antibacterial Products
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    Do you really need to look for products that say "antibacterial"? In this article, the FDA states that washing with antibacterial soaps isn't any better than regular soaps, and the American Medical Association (AMA) says that the frequent use of antibacterial ingredients can promote bacterial resistance to antibiotics. Triclosan, a common antibacterial agent found in many soaps, may mess with your hormonal system and thyroid.
  • You're Helping Advance the Green Cleaning Revolution
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    By purchasing green cleaners, the ingredients to make green cleaners, by hiring World Class Cleaning to do the green-cleaning for you, you're voting with your wallet. Voting a big YES to the Green Cleaning Revolution. And your vote shows that people do care about their environment, their planet, and the life that inhabits it. THANK YOU!
  • Eco-friendly
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    Non-organic cleaning products contain ingredients that are non-biodegradable or take time for degradation due to which they cause water and air pollution. Every ingredient used for preparing natural organic cleaning product is biodegradable in nature and considered safe for the environment.

All good reasons to join "the movement!" Give us a call and let us do the cleaning! Think of the free time you'll have, and think of how much nicer your home will smell without the airborne presence of conventional toxic cleaning products. Give us a call and take back your weekends!

4 Tips to Knock Spring Cleaning Out of the Park!

It's Friday, April 13 and it's currently a balmy 78 degrees outside! It's been chilly the last couple weeks but it finally feels like spring! And that means you're probably getting real serious about that "spring cleaning" list you've been mentally preparing. Well we have 4 tips to not only help get you started but help you have a blast doing it!

  • Make a list for each room
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    Go through each room and make a list of things that need to cleaned. If you have a strong tendency to be obsessive down to the smallest detail, consider making two lists for each room -- the first (or only!) list is of all the things that need to be done that will make the biggest differences... When you get those BIG details out of the way, then you can consider focusing on the little details. If you try to do it all at once you might find yourself getting wore out before you make much headway or you might have trouble getting started at all!
  • Make another kind of list... a playlist!
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    Think of all of your favorite jams and make yourself a cleaning playlist! There is such a burst of mental energy and positivity that comes with listening to (and maybe singing along to) your favorite songs. And with that mental energy comes the much-needed physical energy to get things done.
  • One room at a time
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    Like our recommendation above for making a list for each room, and maybe making a first list of only the big details, this tip falls into a similar camp -- take it slow, take it steady, take it one room at a time. You don't even have to do all of your spring cleaning in one afternoon; heck, you don't even need to do it all in one day! Take it one room at a time and as you make your steady progress you'll find -like that cleaning playlist that you made- that you've got a much needed boost of energy every time you look at the hard work you've accomplished.
  • Use natural cleaners!
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    Aaaand finally, make or purchase your own natural cleaners. Or consider hiring us because we come equipped with cleaning expertise and our own homemade natural cleaners. Whether you're giving us a call or doing it yourself, we cannot stress enough the benefit of natural cleaners. According to this EPA article, not only are people [these days] spending about 90% of their time indoors, but indoor air pollution is often to 5 times worse than what we experience outside our homes -- and a lot of this is due to built up residue from nonnatural cleaning products. We take your health, our health, the world's health seriously and the natural cleaning products that we use are a reflection of this!

And there you have it, folks! That wraps up our four tips and we hope you're stoked to get started on that spring cleaning list. And if you'd like a hand be sure to give us a call!

Three Things You should Deep-Clean this Spring!

Hi, folks! We're a few weeks into spring and it's not quite all flowers and sunshine yet. We know (and understand!) that many of you have not tackled your spring cleaning yet, and that's ok! As you dream up your Spring Cleaning Wishlist, have you considered adding to that list some deep-cleaning tasks? Consider following the instructions below, and we think you'll be quite surprised by the difference it'll make!

  • Clean that mattress!

    This one really goes a long way because a) it rarely (if ever) gets deep-cleaned, and b) a clean, fresh mattress has been scientifically proven to expedite the onset of sleep! You'll fall asleep faster, you'll sleep deeper, and you'll likely better remember your dreams! You need three things for this deep-clean: a bottle of lavender essential oil, a box of baking soda, and a vacuum! Add about 20 drops of lavender oil to your box of baking soda, and shake up the box really well to more evenly distribute the essential oil and to break up any clumps. Next, sprinkle the entire box over the entirety of your mattress, and deep massage that baking soda into your mattress. And we mean deep massage that mattress! Let it sit for at least one hour and then vacuum it all up!
  • Help your dishwasher wash itself!
    This one's easy because you're pretty much just giving the dishwasher what it needs to clean itself. Step 1) Place a cup of white vinegar on the top rack of your dishwasher and run it at the "hottest water" setting. Step 2) Liberally sprinkle baking soda around the bottom of your dishwasher, then run it on a short cycle, again at the hottest water setting. Step 3) Optional, if you have mold or mildew problems, pour about a cup of bleach into the bottom of your dishwasher and run it on a full cycle at the hottest setting. All done!
  • Ever considered washing your painted walls?

    That's right, wash those walls! When's the last time you gave 'em a good scrub?! Your interior walls can be a tremendous source of built-up, near-invisible dirt and grime. Rather than overwhelming this blog-post with these wonderful, in-depth instructions from Better Homes and Gardens, you should check out their link, here. Folks, you might not think you need to give your walls a scrub, but this is one of those things that once you do it... You'll be blown away by the difference it makes!

And there you have it! If you'd like a hand with the cleaning, give us a call! We'll get your home clean without leaving behind the odor of harsh, chemical cleaners -- because we only use natural, eco-friendly green cleaning agents!

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