Spring Cleaning Tips With Philly Maid Green

Spring Cleaning: 5 Green Tips To Save Money, Time and Your Health!

By Brie Parker

It’s almost that time of year! Time for sunshine, lighter clothes, and often times, spring cleaning. If you’re like most people, the thought of deep cleaning your house sounds agonizing and time-consuming, but it doesn’t have to be! Spring is the perfect opportunity to kick up your feet and relax in a clean, organized, and relaxing space. In fact, maintaining a clean space promotes relaxation, productivity, and overall health – especially when you use non-toxic cleaners with organic, homemade recipes! This spring, take back your happy space with these 5 green cleaning tips to save your time, money and health!

DIY cleaners from Brie’s workshop
  1. Declutter and Donate

One of the best ways to clean and improve your space is to get rid of items that spent the winter collecting dust. Rather than just throwing them in a landfill, donate them to your local charity, church, or thrift store. Clothes, shoes, electronics, toys, books, movies, and even food can be given away for someone else to love (plus they’re tax deductible)! The less clutter there is, the easy it’ll be to clean! As for stained or torn clothes, you can use them as cleaning rags in place of costly and wasteful paper towels.

  1. Ditch the Chemical Cleaners for Easy DIY Recipes

Have regular cleaning products ever caused you to have a sore throat, headache, or nausea? That’s likely because of the unregulated and toxic chemicals in conventional cleaning products, which are often linked to asthma, allergies, learning disabilities, and more. If any of your cleaning products have a label that says “CAUTION”, “WARNING”, or “DANGER, you definitely should not use them where you and your family live every day! Instead, make your own DIY all purpose cleaner with simple, non-toxic ingredients, like baking soda, vinegar, borax, lemon extract, and warm water. You could purchase all these items and even new spray bottles for less than $5 at the dollar store and make enough supply to last months.

For an easy all purpose cleaner, mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts warm water. Add a bit of lemon extract or essential oil for an natural, chemical-free scent, especially lavender, peppermint or tea tree. Not only do they smell amazing, but essential oils are known to have antimicrobial, antifungal, and antiviral properties, so they clean just as effectively but without harsh toxins or side effects.

  1.   Switch out your cleaning tools

Deep cleaning your house doesn’t have to result in a lot of wasted paper towels or money spent on refills for this or that. If you never want to spend a lot of money or time in cleaning again, you should definitely invest in some microfiber rags. They average about 50 cents each if you buy a pack on Amazon or at the local car store and work amazing on glass, floors and dusting. Microfibers are 99% effective at removing bacteria from dry surfaces, while also reducing the need for water or cleaning products. Plus, they’re hypoallergenic, super absorbent, and you can reuse them again and again! Instead of putting conventional swiffer wet pads on your mop, attach a damp microfiber to the bottom for a chemical-free and streak-free floor cleaning! Finally, for really tough stains, ditch the chemical bleach for melamine foam (otherwise known as magic eraser). They’re eco-friendly, chemical-free and work like magic on tough stains that would usually require bleach – especially mold, mildew and soap scum.

  1. Open and Clean the Windows

This Spring, one of the best ways to improve indoor air quality and prevent dust is to open the windows! This helps circulate air and eliminates any airborne dust or allergens that may have accumulated over the winter. Brighten the room by cleaning the windows with a natural, homemade window cleaner. Mix one part water, one part rubbing alcohol, and a few drops of lemon or essential oil for a cleaner that’s great on any window, mirror, or glass. Instead of paper towels, use a dry microfiber rag and wipe in circles for a natural, streak-free shine.

  1. Break It Into Teams and Tasks

You don’t have to spend your entire weekend cleaning! To save yourself time and frustration, always clean from top to bottom. Start cleaning high items like door frames, vents, and ceiling fans and work your way down. Start with the worst rooms first, which are usually the kitchen and bathrooms. You can even try this handy step-by-step checklist from Lowe’s to clean your bathroom. A very efficient, professional house cleaner wouldn’t spend more than an hour and a half in a big, uncleaned bathroom, so if you use the products, tools, and checklist mentioned above, it should only take you that long, too!

If there’s more than one person in the house, assign each person certain tasks to complete 10-15 minutes at a time. With each task that’s completed, reward the kids with a treat or reward yourself with a glass of wine! Below, we’ve listed just a few cleaning tasks that take 15 minutes or less:

  • Clean the inside of your microwave. Put a cup of vinegar or water in your microwave for 30 seconds – afterwards, everything in the microwave should be much easier to wipe clean.
  • Take a swiffer extended duster the ceiling fans, vents, and door frames
  • Spray and scrub the front of your cabinets
  • Remove items from counter top, then spray and wipe counter tops
  • Spray and wipe the front of your appliances
  • Beautify the toilet. Start from the top of the lid and make your way down. Best to wipe with toilet paper close by, to avoid cross contamination on your new microfiber rags.
cleaning with a buddy is fun!
cleaning with a buddy is fun!

At the end of the day, if there’s too many tasks and not enough time, you can always contact your local, eco-friendly cleaning service. However, be aware that the saying “you get what you pay for” really applies with the cleaning industry, so use Google or Yelp to research well-reviewed and accredited companies. Try to choose an eco-friendly and locally owned business over a national chain service. You’ll not only get a healthier, cleaner home, but likely more affordable prices and better customer service, while supporting a local, green business. Cleaning is hard, tedious labor so they’re services aren’t cheap, but afterwards, your home will be way easier to maintain and well worth the saved time, stress, and improved air quality.

 

About the Author

Brie Parker is a local entrepreneur, educator, and activist with a passion for empowering others to live more sustainably. After receiving her BA in English at the University of Delaware in ‘14, Brie moved to Philadelphia, where she formed Philly Maid Green, an all-natural cleaning service. They implement 100% eco-friendly practices in every aspect of their business – from their handmade, non-toxic cleaning products and educational workshops, to their low-emissions travel and use of recycled materials. Since 2015, their work has been featured in Generocity, Philly Voice, and the TV show Hoarders. In 2016, they received their Green America Certification and were voted one of Philly’s best cleaning services by Expertise.com. When she’s not working, Brie spends her time hosting educational workshops, participating in environmental work, or studying for her TEFL certification to teach English abroad.

 

Let’s Rail For Trails! by David L. Steinberg

Let’s Rail for Trails!   

by David L. Steinberg

As a steering committee member of Tri-County Sustainability Alliance (Tri-CSA) and a green team member of Sustainable Haddon Heights, I have a strong interest in bike trails, hike trails, rails with trails, off road trails, trails for kids, trails for dogs, trails for snails, trails for nails, or any kind of trails.

South_Jersey-Cricuit-TrailThe proposed Camden County Bike Trail along E. Atlantic Ave Railroad starts at the Ben Franklin Bridge and goes through 16 municipalities, including Camden, Collingswood, Haddon Twp., Oaklyn, Audubon, Haddon Heights, Barrington, Lawnside, Magnolia, Somerdale, Hi-Nella, Stratford, Laurel Springs, Lindenwold, Clementon and Winslow (I hope I have not left any town out).  There was a recent public hearing on this proposed “Trail Spine,” which is located approximately in the middle of the county, roughly paralleling the White Horse Pike to the Atlantic County line.

Once completed, this means walkers, bikers and hikers will be able to travel off-road for most of the length of the county.  Some of the benefits include:

  • Keeping cars off the road reduces pollution.
  • Great exercise and better health for those who can walk or bike.
  • Safe places to take the whole family.
  • The trail, passing through several of these towns’ business districts, brings new customers.
  • Provides opportunity for these towns to provide their own connector trails to the “Spine.”
  • Creates a better quality of life by eliminating an eyesore of the railroad that cut through these towns. Every town would choose what they need to do for their portion by providing civic projects along the way to beautify the trail, such as: adding plants, trees, street furniture, mini playgrounds, gathering places for town events, bike rentals, etc.

So, why is this important to Sustainable Cherry Hill, which is not even part of the “Spine”?

First, it creates awareness that if it can be done elsewhere in the county, it will stimulate people who will think about trails in your community. The more people who are aware of what is done by neighboring towns, the more likely it will be done here.

Second, let’s engage our elected officials and request them to develop trails in your town.

Third, we know that we are doing our part to create a better world with sustainable projects that are done locally.  We can’t do it alone, we need to support each other’s efforts.  In return, we expect that other towns will support our own efforts.  Together, we can make a difference.

If you have an interest in trails in your community, email me at steinberg.david07@comcast.net.          For more information about this trail, read this Courier Post article:  http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/2016/11/23/camden-county-eyes-spine-trail-system/94349976/

david steinberg

‘Love Your Earth’ at the April 29th Earth Festival

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NewEF2015Celebrate – learn – grow – as 5000 visitors and participants “Love Your Earth” at the 8th Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival Saturday, April 29 at historic Croft Farm in Cherry Hill. Be part of South Jersey’s largest eco-event marking Earth Day at this all-weather event.

Free bike parking
Free bike parking

Consider biking to our free festival – since free parking can be a challenge at this well-attended event from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. A free bike parking area is available so you, friends and family can safely stow your bicycle and helmet at this volunteer-staffed area across from the Croft Farm house.

Start the day with the Family Fun Bike Ride sponsored by Cherry Tree Corporate Center and supported by Erlton Bike Shop; this is an enjoyable two or nine-mile ride from Croft Farm to the adjacent Cherry Hill Barclay Farm neighborhood.  Bike ride registration is required and participants (aged 8 or older) must wear a helmet. Bike ride check-in is at 8 a.m. and the ride is completed in time for the official start of the Earth Festival at Croft Farm.

Opening festival ceremony 9:45 a.m.
Opening festival ceremony 9:45 a.m.

Festival visitors enjoy the 9:45 opening event that also kicks off two stages of live entertainment throughout the day. Performances by Rosa Middle School’s talented students and Cherry Hill Township, area officials and Sustainable Cherry Hill leaders, welcome all our visitors.

Across three farmstead acres there will be more than 100 displays that focus in part on this year’s festival theme, “Love Your Earth.” Exhibitors including all 19 Cherry Hill Schools, are showing how communities can help counter climate change in ways large and small.

In addition, the festival includes a recycling depot for gently worn shoes, hangers, batteries, plastic

Three acres of displays, education & food
Three acres of displays, education & food

bags and more; healthy food choices for purchase; plant-swap; arts and crafts; and demonstrations on ways to reduce your carbon footprint and – “Love Your Earth.”

Be a sponsor or Earth-friendly vendor at the festival and stay updated about all Earth Festival activities at our Earth Festival page, on Facebook and Twitter (@SCHEarthFest).

The 8th Sustainable Cherry Hill Earth Festival is produced in partnership with the non-profit Sustainable Cherry Hill, Cherry Hill Township, and Cherry Hill School District.

Sustaining and Presenting Sponsors include: LourdesCare of Cherry Hill and Ravitz Family Markets; Hutchinson Plumbing, Heating, Cooling is our presenting sponsor.

 

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December Agent for Change: Ed Cohen

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These days, we could all use a little inspiration. Welcome to SCH’s Agent for Change series. Throughout the year, we feature interviews with everyday people creating big changes in their little corner of the world. The goal of these stories is to spark a passion, help you set a goal, or move past some frustration as you work to be an Agent for Change in your own system.

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Standing up for clean energy in Philadelphia

This month, we are featuring Ed Cohen, an MVP of sorts in the South Jersey sustainability scene. A computer consultant, Ed began working on community sustainability efforts back in 2008.  Facing a steep learning curve, he decided the best way to really understand the issues was to volunteer with local sustainability organizations.  Ed quickly stepped up, offering his time and talent to not only participate in initiatives like the Mt. Laurel Green Team and Tri-County Sustainability Alliance, but also to lead. Ed has rallied and inspired many throughout South Jersey to become sustainability advocates in their own right.  He encourages others to work with him on planning inspiring and educational outreach events, such as the Sustainability Sips networking night and a variety of films, panels and hands-on community building activities. Ed “walks the walk” by making his personal choices as sustainable as possible.  When he’s not driving the family Prius, Ed can be found pedaling his trusty bicycle around town. Always up for a good protest, Ed has helped organize fellow community members with sign making and transportation to rallies throughout the region.  An alumni of The Environmental Leadership Program (ELP) and NJ Learns, Ed also lends his enthusiasm to the Board of Trustees of Sustainable Cherry Hill and the Environmental Education Working Group in Camden. Keep an eye out for Ed’s wife and supporter, Karen, at the next program or rally. Ed credits Karen, a serious sustainability advocate herself, with kickstarting his activism by inviting him to a program at the Mt. Laurel Public Library eight years ago. And lest you think Ed is all work and no play, ask him to show you one of his magic tricks— all performed with sustainability education in mind! When he is not giving his all to save the planet, Ed is busy mentoring the local high school robotics team and running an Ultimate Frisbee team.

SCH: What is a typical day as an “Agent for Change” like for you?

Introduction at the recent "All Green Teams" meeting
Introduction at the recent “All Green Teams” meeting

Ed: Every day is something new, but many days involve making connections with people via emails, phone calls or face-to-face meetings.  Other times are spent setting up meetings, agendas, writing minutes (for Tri-County Sustainability Alliance and Mt Laurel Green Team), and finding information from people and websites.  The behind-the-scenes efforts usually results in an exciting program with a large audience. All that ‘work’ has opened a number of doors, enabling me to attend/lead events, write newspaper and magazine articles, and participate in week-long seminars.

SCH: What are some of the biggest challenges or barriers that you’ve faced? How have you dealt with them?

Ed: When faced with obstacles (a.k.a learning experiences), I’ve found that there is always a path forward that exposes me to new (and often better) ideas.  Those experiences helped me learn that a positive attitude always trumps dwelling on challenges.  I’ve been fortunate that many of the volunteers in my groups have stepped up, suggested, organized, and run events.

SCH: Dream Big! If you had no constraints, what would you like to see happen in five years?

Ed: People will became more aware that our personal and political choices affect our planet’s suitability for life.  With such knowledge comes power and the responsibility to act. We will demand legislation and political leaders that work to develop long-term solutions.

SCH: It’s important an Agent for Change stay inspired too. Tell us about an experience you’ve had recently that really energized or moved you.

Ed: While preparing for a Clean Energy Revolution march at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, we scheduled an ‘art build’ at my home to create signs and artwork for the march. While I was expecting a half-dozen people painting signs, we ended up having over 20 people creating all kinds of artwork (thanks to artist Suzy Sherbine) and newspaper coverage that included pictures and an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. It was amazing how such a ‘little’ event expanded into much more. The march itself was invigorating with over 10,000 participants in a positive uplifting atmosphere.

SCH: How have you connected with SCH in your Agent for Change role? What ideas do you have about how we continue to work together in the future?

Ed: SCH got me my start and helped with my personal growth (including mentoring by Lori Braunstein).  Now, serving on the SCH board provides new opportunities for me to grow. Learning and taking action is fun. Watching impotently from the sidelines is frustrating. I’d like to help connect the many valuable organizations working in our region to help multiply our joint impact.

SCH: Thanks Ed. Your path from curious bystander to sustainability leader has been inspiring to watch.  We have a feeling you are just getting started!

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