Green Cleaning TIps
Check out our green cleaning tips!
Check back periodically for updated Green Cleaning Tips from Green Maids Cleaning, LLC.
Granite countertops are popular for their beauty and durability, but they still require care to keep them looking great year after year. Chemical cleaners, bleach, and even lemon and vinegar can strip your countertop’s sealant and damage the granite. Here’s our advice: make a solution of warm water and half a tablespoon of all natural dish soap. Use a soft cloth or microfiber towel–not an abrasive sponge–to wipe the counter down. This should remove both oil-based stains and organic stains like tomato juice.
In part three of our Entertaining Green series we ask, how can you keep it green as party host?
Green Tip # 3: Opt for Sustainable Party Decor
Use natural materials like paper or fabric instead of plastic for tablecloths, banners, and decorations. Potted plants and garden-cut or wild flowers make great centerpieces. Avoid balloons, which aren’t biodegradable and can harm wildlife if released.
In the second part of our Entertaining Green series we tackle, how can you keep it green as party host?
Green Tip #2: Minimize Single Use Items
Disposable plates, cups, cutlery and napkins contribute to unnecessary waste. Use cloth napkins and dinnerware and silverware that can be washed and reused, or choose biodegradable or compostable options made from renewable resources like bamboo or sugarcane.
It’s prime barbecue season in New England, and your calendar is likely packed! So, how can you keep it green as party host? This month’s green tips are going to be focused on how to entertain, Green!
Green Tip #1: Reduce Food Waste
Plan your menu carefully to avoid over-catering and minimize leftovers that will go to waste. It happens every time. We don’t want our guests to starve so we end up cooking enough for triple the amount of guests. If that happens, encourage guests to take home excess food and compost scraps instead of sending them to the landfill. Provide reusable containers so guests can take home leftovers.
So, you diligently recycle your paper, plastic, and metal, and try to use environmentally friendly products in your home, but what about your outdoor space? Here are some tips to keep your yard looking beautiful while limiting the environmental impact.
Choose native plants
Not only are native plants beneficial to wildlife, they’re more resistant to damage from disease or insects. Native plants are hardier and won’t require as much water or fertilizer to keep healthy, making your job easier!
Installing rain barrels to collect water from your downspouts is an ideal way to irrigate your lawn and garden without tapping into the local water supply. You’ll save money on your water bill and keep your landscape green during periods of drought. Use a solar-powered drip irrigation system that conserves water by applying it directly to plant roots and eliminates the need for a hose or sprinkler.
Re-think your lawn
A perfectly green golf course-worthy lawn has traditionally been a homeowner’s ideal. But maintaining that lawn requires frequent mowing, which usually means carbon emissions, watering, and the use of fertilizers and pesticides that can be harmful to the environment and cause water pollution. Consider planting ground cover like clover, moss, or spreading perennial plants that require little to no maintenance. In regions with little rainfall, look into xeriscaping, which utilizes drought-tolerant plants and materials to maximum effect.
Ditch the gas mower
It’s likely you’ll need a lawnmower for at least part of your lawn, but choosing an electric-powered version will eliminate any carbon emissions. They are quieter and many fold up for storage. Electric mowers are also less expensive over time because they eliminate the need for gas, oil, fuel filters, or spark plugs. Opt for a battery-powered cordless model to avoid the risk and hassle of dragging a cord as you mow.
Light up with solar
Exterior lights add visual appeal and safety to your property and utilizing the power of the sun is the most efficient way to keep your outdoor space illuminated at night. There are countless solar-powered options on the market, including motion sensing lights for security.
Mulch and compost
Replace chemical fertilizers with organic mulch to keep weeds at bay and plant roots cool. You can choose from a multitude of materials from cocoa to coconut to bark mulch. Over time, mulch will decompose, leaving you with richer soil.
For a fertilizer that does double duty, start a compost pile. You can add lawn trimmings, leaves, twigs, and mulch, along with kitchen scraps like coffee grounds, eggshells, and fruit and vegetable peels, reducing the amount of garbage that ends up in a landfill and providing a renewable, nutritionally rich source of fertilizer for your garden.
Take advantage of reusable materials when you’re landscaping your property. Brick or natural stone are perfect for edging a flower bed or pathway, and wooden pallets (which are often available for free) can be repurposed for trellises, planter boxes, or fencing. Be sure to use non-toxic paints or stains. Choose permeable pavers or porous concrete for driveways or patios. This will allow water to flow through instead of creating run-off that can lead to soil erosion.
Summer brings warmer temps and more time outdoors, making it the perfect time to think about the planet. Here are some ways to make your summer fun more eco-friendly.
Plant a garden
Planting fruits or vegetables on your own property, or as part of a community garden, will not only yield healthy, delicious produce, but save you money and trips to the grocery store. Yard-to-table is even better than farm-to-table! Planting flowers will help pollinators like bees and birds, on which 35% of the world’s agricultural crops depend. If your outdoor space is limited, add pots or containers to a sunny porch or windowsill.
Planning a summer picnic or cookout? Consider bringing reusable or compostable plates and utensils instead of plastic and encourage guests to bring their own water bottles instead of buying disposable plastic ones. Studies have shown that plastic waste increases by 40% in the summer months, and all that plastic ends up in landfills where it produces harmful greenhouse gasses.
Try to limit your AC use to days when you really need it. Save energy by using fans and opening windows whenever possible and use blinds or curtains to keep your home cool in the heat of the day. Use natural light instead of turning on lights during the day and skip the dryer and hang your clothes outside to dry. Switching to an electric lawnmower eliminates the emissions caused by gas-powered mowers.
Summer is the time when many families take road trips, but having fun doesn’t have to mean traveling a long distance. Find places near you–like a ropes course, hiking trail, or museum–that you may not have visited by checking the website of your local tourism board for ideas.
You’re mindful of sustainability at home, but can you do anything to make the community you live in more green? The short answer is yes! Here are some ways you can encourage your town to be more eco-friendly:
If you live in a city or area where individual yard space is scarce, consider planting a community garden. Not only will neighbors get the benefit of homegrown veggies and flowers, but bringing people together will foster friendships and build a sense of community.
Encourage walking and cycling. Advocating for bike lanes and public parks in your town will allow more people to leave the car at home, reducing the environmental impact from toxic emissions.
Reduce food waste. A whopping 70% of food that Americans buy ends up in the trash. Talk to local restaurants and grocery stores about starting a redistribution program to food pantries or shelters to cut back on wasted food.
Support local growers. Food production is the largest source of carbon emissions. Buying from farms, farmer’s markets, or joining a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) is a great way to eat healthier and do good for the planet. Talk to community leaders and local growers about how to promote more sustainable food options.
Make it easier to reduce, reuse and recycle. Advocate for curbside or municipal recycling and curbside compost pickup if your town doesn’t offer these. Partner with schools or other community organizations to initiate recycling drives for items like electronics and appliances.
Reuse. Organize a neighborhood swap or freecycle program to find new homes for gently used clothing, toys, and household goods that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Give new life to one-time use items like prom dresses, Halloween costumes, and baby gear by donating.
The average American throws away more than 4 pounds of trash a day and generates 220 pounds of plastic waste per year, less than 10% of which gets recycled! So how can you do your part to reduce the amount of stuff piling up in our landfills? Here are a few ways to go low waste:
Whenever possible, buy in bulk. Many cities and towns have refill stores where you can bring your own containers to purchase household staples like laundry detergent, cleaning products, and shampoo. Some grocery stores sell bulk items like grains, nuts, and cereal as well.
Choose natural fibers over synthetics, or better yet purchase up-cycled or secondhand clothes. Textiles made from synthetic materials shed microplastics, which end up in our water supply and can be toxic to marine life. Donate your gently used clothing rather than throwing it away.
Buy products that are designed to last. They may cost a little more, but you’ll save money in the long term. Repair what you can instead of buying something new. Look for energy-efficient appliances when you need to replace yours.
Avoid single use items. Carry a water bottle and refillable travel mug with you. Pack lunches and snacks in reusable containers or compostable wraps. Choose unpackaged foods like loose fruit instead of individually packaged snack foods. Skip the straws, stirrers, and plastic utensils when you get food to go and carry your own reusable cutlery.
Going low waste is about embracing small changes that make a big difference!
Welcome Macaroni Kid families! We’d love to invite you to join us for a local beach cleanup. It’s a great way to give back to the community and have some fun with your family. Kids will learn the importance of taking care of our beaches for decades to come. We hope to see you there!
What to bring:
- Your own working gloves, if you have them (if not we will provide reusable gloves)
- Water in a reusable water bottle
🌊Date: Tuesday, May 30th
Beach: Wallis Sands, Rye
We also have additional cleanups this fall – so mark your calendars!
☀️International Coastal Cleanup Week
Date: Thursday, September 21st
Beach: Short Sands – York
🐚Date: Saturday, September 23rd
Beach: Jenness Beach, Rye
Check out our Facebook Page for pictures of the events as well as reminders!
Inspired by a newly-burgeoning environmental movement and fueled by public outrage over a massive oil spill in California, the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970. Public awareness about the damaging effects of pesticides had also grown in the previous decade, thanks to Rachel Carson’s bestselling book, Silent Spring. Earth Day brought together disparate groups who had been focused individually on combating polluting factories, wildlife extinction, recycling, emissions from leaded gasoline, and chemical dumping in rivers and oceans. United around a common cause–protecting the planet–Earth Day led directly to the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency at the end of 1970.
In the decades since, Earth Day has grown into a worldwide phenomenon, marked by over a billion people, with nearly every country represented. The dangers of climate change have taken center stage over the past 10 years, as global leaders have acknowledged the urgent need for action against this very real threat, and social media has enabled the message to spread, inspiring a younger generation of activists to embrace the challenge.
Here are some fun (and meaningful) ways to celebrate Earth Day!
✅ Feed the birds: make your own recycled feeder with a plastic water bottle and wooden spoon. Learn how here: https://loom.ly/W6Ts86k
✅ Go car-free: see if you can go a day without driving. Walk or bike to the store or to visit local friends. It’s great exercise AND good for the environment!
✅ Purchase a yearly pass to a state park and make a point of spending more time enjoying the outdoors. Find a list of parks here: https://loom.ly/HB94Yok
✅ Instead of throwing out veggie scraps, repurpose them to make your own vegetable stock and use it as the base for a delicious soup. Find a recipe here: https://loom.ly/CbJvkTw
Bonus Tip! A great way to celebrate Earth Day is to join us at one of our Beach Clean-Ups this season. The first one is this Saturday at Peirce Island in Portsmouth. Find out more about the beach clean ups we have scheduled this year here: 2023 Beach Clean-Up Schedule
We are so happy to share our schedule for this year’s Green Maid’s Beach Clean-ups! Together with some amazing local partners ( Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation , Town of York Maine Parks and Recreation Department , York Region Chamber of Commerce , The ReFill Station) we want to get together to show some love for the ocean and our community. Give back, have fun and maybe get a gift card to the The ReFill Station by joining us the following dates:
🏖Date: Saturday, April 22nd
Beach: Peirce Island, Portsmouth
🌊Date: Tuesday, May 30th
Beach: Wallis Sands, Rye
☀️International Coastal Cleanup Week
Date: Thursday, September 21st
Beach: Short Sands – York
🐚Date: Saturday, September 23rd
Beach: Jenness Beach, Rye
We hope to see you there! Check out our Facebook Page for pictures of the events as well as reminders!
The origins of Arbor Day date back to the late nineteenth century when J. Sterling Morton, who sat on the Nebraska Board of Agriculture, proposed a national tree-planting holiday with prizes offered as an incentive. The initiative was such a success, with an estimated 1 million trees planted that day, that Nebraska’s Governor proclaimed Arbor Day an official state holiday. By the early 20th century more than 45 U.S. states and territories had adopted the tradition. Education about the importance of trees was added to school curriculums nationwide, and students were each given a tree to plant in their own yard.
Morton intended the day to remind all of us of our responsibility as stewards of the earth, as well as to look towards the future, as emphasized in his 1885 speech, where he said: “we ought to bequeath to posterity as many forests and orchards as we have exhausted and consumed.” 150 years later, Arbor Day has evolved into a global celebration, with communities around the world gathering to plant trees on the last Friday in April.
Here are some great ways to celebrate:
✅ Take a walk in a local park or state forest and simply appreciate the natural beauty of native trees.
✅ Organize a community scavenger hunt with categories like “biggest tree” and “oldest tree.”
✅ Choose a park or other downtown area to clean up.
✅ Take a class on tree identification, planting or pruning.
✅ Take part in a tree planting event or plant a tree on your own property. Portsmouth is celebrating its 400th anniversary by planting 400 trees, 200 of which will be made available to local residents to plant at their homes or businesses. Find out more here: https://loom.ly/yd62XSk
*Fun fact: Portsmouth has more than 10,000 trees, including a horse chestnut planted in 1776 by Declaration of Independence signer William Whipple! Learn more here: https://loom.ly/3yKW2gU
Green Maids will be donated to One Tree Planted on Arbor Day, learn more about this organization here: https://onetreeplanted.org/
Living in beautiful coastal New England means many of us will be spending time at the beach in the coming months. Here’s how you can be green while having fun in the sun!
✅ Bring a refillable water bottle and avoid plastic straws
✅ Pack snacks in paper rather than plastic bags, which can easily blow into the water and become a tangling hazard for ocean creatures.
✅ Even though you’re outdoors, don’t smoke on the beach. Cigarette butts are the most common item picked up during beach clean ups, and their filters contain plastic which is not biodegradable.
✅ Wear sunscreen made with minerals like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, rather than chemical sunscreen. When you go swimming the oxybenzone contained in chemical sunscreens ends up in the ocean where it can harm marine life.
✅ Dispose of your trash properly. Anything left on the beach ends up in the ocean. Litter can be mistaken for food by marine life.
✅ Practice the rule of ”leave no trace” by collecting all your belongings before you leave. Fill in any holes you may have dug on the beach. They can be an obstacle to animals like baby sea turtles who may get trapped.
✅ Respect wildlife: stay away from nesting birds and don’t pick up live sea creatures like crabs or starfish.
✅ Pay attention to posted signs and don’t walk or climb on dunes where forbidden.
✅ If you are snorkeling or diving, be careful not to disturb coral. Corals are already at risk from pollution and warming seas. They are fragile, living animals and touching can damage or kill them.
✅ When boating, tie off only at designated mooring spots and anchor in areas with a sandy bottom so you don’t damage seagrass or other plants.
According to the EPA, driving is the largest contributor to U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, making up 27% of the total. Cars are a major contributor to air pollution, producing carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, and particulate. Particulate matter alone is thought to be the cause of as many as 30,000 premature deaths a year. A typical passenger car emits over 4 metric tons of CO2 a year! And that new car smell? It’s a result of phthalates found in plastic and vinyl off-gassing chemicals into the air.
Your car has also consumed significant energy and left an environmental footprint before it ever makes it to your driveway, in the use of plastics, toxic battery acids, paints and other materials that can have harmful lasting effects. But at least 80% of your car’s environmental impact is a result of emissions from fuel consumption that contribute directly to climate change.
Tailpipe emissions also include methane and nitrous oxide and hydrofluorocarbon from leaking air conditioners, all of which contribute to global warming. Electric vehicles are more environmentally-friendly than conventional cars, in that they don’t release tailpipe emissions, only water vapor, but emissions are still generated during the production and distribution of EVs.
Here are some simple ways to reduce your carbon footprint:
–Walk or bike to school or to the store or when possible. For every mile not driven, you save 404 grams of CO2 emissions.
–Use a bike-share program if your city or town has one
–Work from home if you have the option
–Take public transit
–Carpool with friends instead of driving alone
–If you have to drive, plan ahead and make multiple stops in one trip
-Maintain your current vehicle. An efficient engine will reduce pollution and under- or over-inflated tires cause your engine to work harder and burn more fuel.
-Only use your car’s AC when you absolutely have to. Air conditioners emit heat and use hazardous hydrofluorocarbons.
-Avoid idling. It’s a myth that restarting your car uses more fuel than letting it run.
-Purchase the most fuel-efficient car you can afford. Click here for a list of cars ranked by fuel economy: https://loom.ly/XbH5aM4
The health of our planet is one of the most important issues of our time. If we all make an effort to make more environmentally conscious choices, together we can ensure a better future. Here are just a few ways you can help:
Volunteer. Join stewardship projects to plant trees, clean trash from beaches, or maintain hiking trails. Both communities and environmental organizations sponsor events and your local library is a good resource.
If you’re unable to volunteer, donate. Do some research and choose organizations with low overhead, where the money raised directly benefits wildlife or environmental causes.
Think twice before driving. Walk, bike, or take public transportation if at all possible. If you have the option to work from home some or all of the time, take advantage to reduce your carbon emissions.
If you’re planting a garden, choose native plants. These will usually thrive without pesticides and require less water, along with attracting pollinators.
What to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle? Try implementing these simple changes.
✅ Swap traditional light bulbs for LEDs. The expense will pay for itself within a year and the bulbs last much longer.
✅ Batch your errands. Save time, reduce fuel costs, and limit carbon emissions by making multiple stops in one trip out in the car.
✅ For home improvement projects, look for reclaimed building supplies and fixtures. Research the most energy-efficient appliances and maintain them so they last. Check to see if rebates or incentives are available.
✅ If you have a fireplace, keep the damper closed when it’s not in use. Heating air gets pulled up the chimney and out just the way it would if you left a window open.
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.
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.
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.
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 terephthalate (PET)
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA)
Do your part to keep the planet healthy by cutting down on plastics that pollute our oceans!