Green Cleaning TIps

Check out our green cleaning tips!

Check back periodically for updated Green Cleaning Tips from Green Maids Cleaning, LLC.

Reducing your environmental impact doesn’t have to mean making drastic changes to the way you live. Here are a few small changes that can make a big difference.

Laundry
Whenever possible, hang laundry out to dry rather than using your dryer. Switch your washer to cold water and shorten the wash time in your settings. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets often contain chemicals that can trigger allergies or asthma, so it’s best to avoid using them.

Cleaning
Replace household chemicals with all-natural cleaners. Toilet bowl cleaners, oven cleaners, and drain uncloggers are some of the worst offenders, containing ingredients that are toxic if inhaled and can cause serious burns if ingested by children or pets. These products also make their way into the water supply and can threaten humans, wildlife, and the environment.

Air fresheners
Because manufacturers don’t have to disclose the ingredients in their air fresheners you have no way of knowing what you’re putting into the air you breathe. Independent researchers have found phthalates–chemicals that affect hormones and can cause birth defects–in many major fragrance brands. Air fresheners can also contain volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, like acetaldehyde that’s both hazardous to the environment and a probable carcinogen.

Think twice before you toss that outdated iPhone in the trash! Did you know that your smartphone is made up of raw materials including copper, lead, cobalt, silver, lithium oxide, and plastic produced using crude oil? Both energy and valuable resources are used to manufacture electronics. Mining to extract the rare minerals for smartphones generates toxic waste which contaminates soil and drinking water and damages fragile ecosystems. To obtain lithium for phone batteries, vast lakes must be evaporated, depriving local farmers of water for irrigation, and mining for gold in the Amazon often involves child labor and is a primary cause of deforestation. Places as far flung as Chile and the Democratic Republic of Congo have paid a huge environmental price as foreign companies decimate their natural resources in the quest for rare-earth metals.

And because the vast majority of smartphones–including iPhone, Samsung, and LG–are manufactured in China and South Korea, the devices have to travel a long distance to reach the consumer, using fossil fuels that emit greenhouse gas and contribute to climate change. Smartphones are responsible for more greenhouse gasses than any other electronic device and the average American purchases a new phone every two years, without recycling the old one.

So, what can we do to mitigate this environmental crisis? First, consider extending the life of your phone by waiting longer to replace it, or by reselling it, or donating it to charity. If you do need to dispose of it, dropping your phone off at a verified recycling center will allow its metals, plastics, and battery to be repurposed. Fewer than 15% of Americans recycle their smartphones, and the devices end up in landfills where their toxic metals can contaminate soil. Simply recycling unused phones can preserve precious resources and reduce air and water pollution in vulnerable communities.

Did you know that honey bees are responsible for pollinating 80% of all cultivated crops in the U.S., contributing over 15 billion dollars to the agricultural economy? Without the help of bees, we would lose essential fruits, vegetables, and nuts like apples, blueberries, carrots, onions, and almonds. At least one out of every three bites we eat has been pollinated by bees and their survival directly impacts the planet’s food security.

Each colony is home to upwards of 10,000 bees working within a complex social system to produce honey and beeswax and maintain the hive and population. Sadly, 25% of North America’s native bees are currently in danger of extinction. The causes for the decline in bee population are numerous, the most well-known being the sudden, unexplained disappearance of worker bees from a colony, known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Though CCD has declined in recent years, other dangers to bees have increased, including the use of pesticides that harm ground-nesting bees; parasites like mites who feed on bees; and the effects of climate change like drought, wildfires, and flooding that destroys bee habitats and food sources. Heavy rainfall in the Northeast during the winter of 2021 meant bees had limited time to forage for food, causing New Hampshire beekeepers to lose 50-70% of their colonies.

Here are 3 steps you can take to help save the bees:

1. Plant a garden
This is especially important for city-dwellers, where bees have fewer sources of food. Ask about pollinator-friendly plants at your local nursery and if you don’t have the space for a garden, window boxes or flower pots will work as well to attract bees. Favorites include perennials like poppies, coneflower, and hosta; annuals like sunflowers and cosmos; and herbs like lavender and rosemary.

2. Buy local honey
You’ll not only support your local beekeepers, whose bees support local agriculture, but local honey contains small amounts of pollen from plants the bees feed on, which can help mitigate seasonal allergies. Large-scale producers filter out pollen and often add corn syrup or sugar to honey.

3. Go organic
Avoid using pesticides and chemical fertilizers on your lawn and garden and use compost and organic products instead. This will improve soil health as well as being safe for bees.

Did you know that some of the most harmful pollutants to the planet can be found in your shampoo bottle? Many shampoos, along with cleansers, scrubs, moisturizers, and makeup contain ‘microbeads,’ tiny particles of hard plastic that do not degrade or decompose. Using these products in the shower means they end up in sewage treatment plants where they pass unfiltered into our oceans and water supply. Some of these plastics are ingested by marine life and birds and some eventually end up in our food. Over 100 aquatic animals have been found to contain microplastics, including shrimp, mussels, clams, and fish. Scientists believe there may be as many as 5 trillion particles of plastic in the world’s oceans already and some studies indicate that the average person consumes about a credit card’s worth of plastic per week!

Fortunately, microplastics can be avoided if you know what to look for. Next time you’re shopping for bath and beauty supplies, read labels and avoid anything containing the following ingredients:

Polyethylene (PE)
Polyethylene terephthalate (PET)
Nylon (PA)
Polypropylene (PP)
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)

Do your part to keep the planet healthy by cutting down on plastics that pollute our oceans!

We have some tips for saving energy this winter, which will also save you money! It’s good for your wallet and great for the environment. Winter on the Seacoast of New Hampshire and Southern Maine can be brutal, so it’s important to do as much preparation as you can to keep your heat where it’s supposed to be – inside your home.

  • Adjusting your thermostat down by two degrees in winter can save as much 1,000 pounds of carbon dioxide per year.
  • Because the natural flow of air is from warmer to cooler areas, adding weather stripping or caulking around drafty windows and doors helps reduce energy consumption, while saving you money on heating costs.
  • Attics and basements are the biggest source of heat leaks. Use foam to seal small cracks and add insulation to attics to prevent heat loss.
  • Water heaters are the second largest energy users in the home because they cycle on and off, constantly reheating water to the temperature that’s been set. Lowering the set temperature by just a few degrees likely will not make any noticeable difference when taking showers, but can reduce energy use substantially over time.
  • Most ceiling fans have a reverse switch that will turn the fan blades clockwise, producing an updraft. This will move the warm air that rises to the ceiling down into the rest of the room.
  • When decorating for the holidays, choose energy-efficient LED lights. Not only do they use 75% less energy, but LEDs are more durable and last much longer than traditional incandescent lights.

These small changes can make a big difference in your energy bills this winter!

Installing solar panels on your home’s rooftop or in your yard is an excellent way to save money on your utility bills, as well as reduce pollution from the coal and natural gas used to make electricity. The sun provides a source of clean, abundant energy and solar panels are more affordable than ever, with prices 80% lower than they were just 15 years ago.

Want to learn more? Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about solar power:

What is the upfront cost of installing solar panels?

In many states, leasing solar panels is an option, giving homeowners the benefit without upfront costs. Leasing means that the customer pays a monthly fee to a leasing company, who will install and maintain the panels, generally for a 20 year period. If you choose to purchase solar panels, the price varies depending on the size of the home, but there are often state and federal tax rebates available to help defray the cost.

How long does it take to install solar panels?

The solar company you use will be responsible for obtaining the necessary permits in advance, but the actual installation can usually be done in a day.

Will solar power work if the power goes out?

Yes, if there’s a daytime electrical outage, your solar panels can still turn sunlight into electricity. For a nighttime power outage a battery system would be necessary.

Will solar panels work on cloudy or snowy days?

Though they work best in sunny conditions, your solar panels will continue to work on overcast days. Snow that falls on solar panels tends to melt very quickly because panels are dark and face the sun. Studies have shown that they work more efficiently in cold weather and may produce more electricity from sunlight reflecting off of snow.

How much money will I save with solar panels?

The amount of savings varies, based on your current electric bill and the size of the system installed, but the average homeowner saves $1,217 per year by converting to solar energy, making it a very worthwhile longterm investment!

Do some research, get some local quotes and see how much money you can save long-term!

Here are some resources to start your research:

Did you know that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day Americans throw out one million tons of trash per week, much of it holiday wrapping and packaging? It takes a little extra effort, but it’s possible to celebrate in a more environmentally-friendly way without sacrificing holiday fun! Let’s work together to reduce waste on New Hampshire’s Seacoast.

Here are a few tips:

Reuse, or make your own, wrapping paper

Almost all wrapping paper is non-recyclable because of the inks used and the shiny coatings. Instead of using store-bought paper, consider using brown or white craft paper and decorate with markers or colored pencils. Turn it into a fun project for your kids! Instead of paper gift bags, wrap presents in reusable cloth bags. If you do purchase wrapping paper, look for planet-friendly brands that make paper made from recycled, compostable newsprint.

Re-gift, or give the gift of experiences

There’s nothing wrong with passing along a gift that’s not your taste but that someone else would love. Fun, vintage clothing from Goodwill or thrift stores can make great gifts. The holidays are also a perfect time to pass on family heirlooms, which make lovely, meaningful gifts. Another option is to gift experiences, like tickets to a concert or sporting event, a day spent at a museum or zoo, a class or workshop, or a spa day. Not only do these gifts cut down on consumer waste, but they’re much more memorable than another scarf!

DIY it

You don’t have to be an artist or crafter to make your own gifts. Some fun DIY options include: framed photos, photo books, or calendars with pictures of loved ones; homemade cookies or bread; knitted, crocheted, or embroidered items; framed drawings or paintings from kids; hand painted ornaments (blanks are available at most craft stores); personalized coupon books (an evening of babysitting, a home-cooked meal delivered, dog walking, snow shoveling, etc)

Buy local

Source ingredients for your holiday meal at local farms or food shops whenever possible. Buy gifts that support small, local businesses, whether handmade crafts or restaurant gift certificates. This cuts down on driving while helping out hometown retailers and keeping local people employed. If you prefer to do your shopping online, avoid Amazon and order from sites that support independent businesses like bookshop.com or Etsy.

Go green when you dry clean! Did you know that more than 70% of dry cleaners use perchloroethylene (perc), a chemical solvent that’s been linked to cancer? Even short term exposure to perc can cause headaches, dizziness, and other neurological side effects, making it hazardous for dry cleaning workers as well as the environment.

Luckily, there are alternatives to perc. The first is so-called “wet cleaning,” using special non-toxic detergents that are milder than home products and won’t damage clothes. Combined with professional pressing, steaming, and finishing, this method is as effective as traditional dry cleaning.

The other way for dry cleaners to go green is to use liquid carbon dioxide as a cleaning solvent, along with detergent. Liquid CO2, the stuff used to carbonate soft drinks, is non-toxic and reusable and–because it’s a by-product of existing industrial processes–environmentally friendly. This method also requires less energy than traditional dry cleaning because the solvent doesn’t need to be heated.

Learn more from Green America!

Rethink single use items when covering food and drinks! For storing leftovers, covering open cans of pet food, or carrying coffee on the go, reusable lids are a great alternative to the disposable kind.

Single use lids and covers, whether metal, plastic or paper, are often not recycled and end up in landfills. Reusable lids, made of dishwasher-safe silicone, can save you money and reduce waste. They are flexible, durable, and BPA-free, and are available in a variety of sizes online or in eco-conscious retail stores.

Another tip is to swap your plastic wrap or foil for beeswax food wrap. Made from cotton infused with beeswax, it’s washable, reusable for up to a year, and compostable. In addition to being planet-friendly, beeswax wrap is more “breathable” than plastic and will keep foods like bread, cheese, and produce fresher for longer, saving you money!

Do you have a bag full of reusable bags at home? Most of us have accumulated a collection of totes – the kind given out at events, with magazine subscriptions, or as thank you’s for charitable donations. But having them doesn’t do any good if you don’t use them! Reusable bags aren’t just for the grocery store. Keep a stash on hand in a very visible place – by the front door or on the passenger seat of your car – and use them anytime you shop, whether you’re buying books or clothes or office supplies.

Single use plastic bags have a huge impact on the amount of waste that goes into our landfills and oceans. It takes about 1,000 years for plastic bags to degrade, and in the process they contaminate soil and water by leaching toxic chemicals. They also pose a danger to birds and marine life when they’re mistaken for food and ingested.

Studies have shown that in cities where plastic bags have been banned, the amount of plastic particles detected in nearby waters has dramatically decreased. It’s time to ditch the plastic and do our part for the planet. Make a habit of carrying reusable bags wherever you go!

Reconsider fast fashion when holiday shopping. Cheap, mass-produced clothes make it easy to buy trendy items that get discarded after a season or two, but the environmental costs are steep.

In addition to the sheer volume of clothing that ends up in landfills, the fashion industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions each year. Synthetic clothes often contain microplastics, along with dyes and chemicals, that make their way into our water supply and pose a danger to marine life.

When shopping for clothes, opt for quality over quantity and choose items that are sustainably made and built to last. Do laundry only as often as necessary, using an eco-friendly detergent, and consider repairing clothes that are torn or missing buttons. Whenever possible, purchase used items and donate what you no longer wear.

How many paper bills do you still get in the mail? Sign up for paperless billing to save trees and money!

If you’re like us, you get a bill in the mail but pay it online and just throw the bill away. Few people sit down to write checks and mail their payments back in the mail.

Most companies would rather go fully paperless, and provide incentives (discounts) to get you to sign up! Check with your utility companies and service providers to see what you can get to have your bills emailed to you.

Think that going paperless doesn’t have much of an impact on the environment? Think again.

“Reducing your paper consumption is a simple way to have a huge impact on the environment, and especially CO2 emissions. An average tree can only produce about 17 reams of paper, and takes about 100 years to grow. What’s more, over 50% of paper comes from virgin forests, and about 16% of those are old growth. Producing those 17 reams from one tree will release about 110 lbs of C02 into the atmosphere. The real cost, though, is the loss of a “carbon sink”: if left alone, the average tree would absorb around a 2,000 lbs of C02 in its lifetime. That’s why reducing paper usage has a direct impact on a company’s carbon footprint.” – Paperless Productivity

If you’re someone who likes to have a green lawn, you likely also spend a lot of time and money to keep it that way. Between mowing, weeding and watering, our lawns need a lot of care! And that care impacts the environment, which is why many people are moving to install artificial lawns. They’re not only easier to maintain, but they’re better for the Earth.

Save on Water
Your lawn needs a lot of water to stay healthy and green. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, we use over 4 billion gallons of water a day for lawn irrigation. That’s a lot!

Save on Pesticides and Fertilizers
Many people use harmful chemicals to keep their lawns growing and free of bugs. But those pesticides and fertilizers can run off our lawns and into waterways, impacting our drinking water and recreation spaces.

Save on Time
With an artificial lawn, your time to maintain it goes way down! No more mowing, wedding, trimming, watering or seeding. Think of all the other things you could be doing! (Like enjoying it.)

Save on Money
Water, fertilizer, lawn equipment… it all costs money! With an artificial lawn, you’ll save money long-term on those expenses.

Would you consider an artificial lawn?

Every year, over 100 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States. Unless you’re extremely diligent about your food scraps, we all create food waste. Instead of throwing out your scraps, think about how they can be better utilized through composting!

If you don’t have the space or time to create your own at-home composting system, we highly recommend signing up with a local company like Mr. Fox Composting.

If you do have the space and desire to create your own at-home composting system, there are lots of ways to do it!

  • You can purchase a compost bin – they come in all different shapes and sizes, and you can find one that works for your space.
  • You can build your own composting system with wooden pallets, a plastic tote or 30-gallon plastic drum, or many other common items.
  • You can go without a container and just bury your compost in your garden, which will then turn into fertilizer for your soil.

Check out The Spruce for ideas on DIY composting. Which one is your favorite? Comment on our Facebook post!

Single-use water bottles are incredibly wasteful, and are so easy to stop using! We don’t recommend re-using those plastic bottles as the plastic begins to break down over time and you’ll end up ingesting plastic particles. Instead, find new ways to stay hydrated.

Step One: Find your perfect reusable water bottle. There are great options in hard plastic, glass, and metal. Pick a fun color or pattern, and one that is insulated to keep your water cool!

Step Two: Determine your method for refilling. It could be straight from the tap, getting yourself a filtered container or or a filter that attaches to your faucet. There are plenty of great methods to refill your reusable water bottle!

Step Three: Stay hydrated and feel good about helping to save the planet and reduce plastic use!

Have you talked with the kids in your life about how they can also live a greener lifestyle? There are a lot of small things that kids can do to help make a positive impact on our environment and introducing these concepts early can create lifelong habits! 

  1. Make sure they turn off lights when they’re leaving a room
  2. Have them turn off the water when they’re brushing their teeth 
  3. Purchase reusable food baggies or containers for lunches rather than single use plastic baggies
  4. Hold a swap with friends – they can swap clothes, books, toys and more! 
  5. Keep a pile of scrap paper (old bills, junk mail) for kids to doodle or color on 
  6. Plant a vegetable garden with the seeds from vegetables
  7. Bring them to a refill store and teach them about reducing plastic use

There are so many fun things you can do with kids to teach them about living a greener life. What do you do in your home to promote being eco-conscious? Let us know on our Facebook page!

We recently talked about how refill stores can help you reduce your food and product packaging waste. Another way to do this is to shop local at farmers’ markets! Farmers’ markets don’t just showcase fruits and vegetable vendors, many of them also include crafters, butchers, brewers, florists and more! You’ll eat better, save on food packaging, and get to support people in your community. 

Check out these farmers’ markets if you haven’t already! 

Portsmouth Farmers’ Market
Saturdays from 8am – Noon
1 Junkins Avenue (City Hall)
Runs from May 7 to November 5

Gateway York Farmers’ Market
Saturdays from 9am – 1pm
1 Stonewall Lane (York Chamber of Commerce)
Runs from May 21 – November 12

Dover Farmers’ Market
Wednesdays from 2:30 – 6pm
550 Central Avenue (Dover Chamber of Commerce)
Runs from June 1 to October 5

Exeter Farmers’ Market
Thursdays from 2:30 – 6pm
Swasey Parkway
Runs from May 12 to October 27

Which one is your favorite?

(Featured photo from Portsmouth Farmers’ Market)

Are you someone who asks people to leave their shoes at the door? Your guests may not like it, but it’s a great choice to make for your home! There are so many reasons why taking your shoes off at the door is better for your home, your health and your overall happiness. 

  1. Not surprisingly, your home will stay cleaner. Shoes can hold on to dirt, mud, leaves and more and that can be left on your floors when you don’t take your shoes off. 
  2. It’s better for your health. When you walk around outside, you don’t know what kinds of bacteria, pesticides, or feces you’re stepping in. Do you really want that in your home? We don’t think so. 
  3. Keep your floors in better condition. Different types of shoes can leave scuffs, marks, or dents in your floors. Leaving shoes at the door means you’ll keep your floors undamaged and beautiful! 

Getting into the habit of leaving shoes at the door can be difficult, so we’re here to help. Our regular deep cleaning services help keep your floors free of debris and harmful bacteria.

A hot and dry summer in New England means we’re more likely to hit drought status and have water bans implemented in our towns. A water ban means that excessive water use, like utilizing a sprinkler for your lawn or garden, is banned or limited. It’s necessary to ensure that households have access to running water for basic needs like bathing, cooking and drinking. But that means that your lawn and garden can suffer!

Rain barrels come with a lot of benefits and can be easily installed yourself or through a local gutter company or contractor. 

1. You’ll conserve rainwater for use on your lawn or garden. Average rainfall of one inch per 24 hours can result in more than 700 gallons of water that runs off your house! You can also use it for other things like washing your car, walkways, sidewalks and more. 

2. Reduce runoff pollution and erosion. When rainwater flows freely from your downspouts, it can pick up pesticides, fertilizers, oil and more and carry them to local waterways. Collecting it limits that runoff and helps the environment!

3. Save on your water bill. If you’re not using your hose or sprinklers as much (or not allowed to due to a water ban) you’ll save money on your water bill! 

Talk to your gutter company or purchase a rain barrel yourself online and start saving water and money!

The way we purchase and consume food plays a huge role in climate change. Not just food waste, which ends up in landfills and generates methane, a potent greenhouse gas, but also our food packaging. The creation of food packaging, like plastic containers and bags, plays a big role as well. We all work to limit our food waste and recycle as much packaging as we can, but sometimes throwing things out is inevitable. Or is it? 

More and more refill stores are popping up across the country, which allow you to purchase items in bulk without the packaging (you bring your own reusable containers!). It’s a great way to limit your packaging waste and purchase only the amount food you really need. We love our local choices here on the Seacoast, and hope you’ll check them out! 

Portsmouth, NH – The Refill Station
Kittery, ME – We Fill Good Seacoast
NH / ME – Leave No Trace Refillery (mobile!)

Where is your favorite refill store?

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