The sun is streaming in through your beautiful bay window – just enough to remind you that it might be time to stop putting off this year’s spring cleaning. But this month, between Earth Hour and Earth Day, it seems everyone – including your teenager, who you’ve never actually seen pick up a mop or broom – keeps telling you it’s time to go green.
The good news is, there’s plenty of help to kick your bleach habit and create a healthier environment, inside and outside your home this spring as green cleaning has gone mainstream. Not that you have to admit that to your offspring.
“People are much more open to the idea,” says Michelle Koval of Positively Green, a green cleaning business with clients who range from homeowners to developers.
Some still just want a spotless home and don’t care how she makes it happen, but many are demanding 100 per cent eco-friendly products.
“Attitudes have really changed,” she says.
Koval took to the green clean movement in earnest five years ago, when her own sensitivities to perfumes in harsh cleaners were too hard to ignore. Now the keen entrepreneur employs a team of cleaners and loves to create converts in her customers.
And her favourite ingredient?
Vinegar. The simple pungent liquid is the key to green cleaning and kills up to 99 per cent of bacteria. She includes a little fresh smelling essential oils to her mix and creates a cleaner that will stand up against any conventional product.
For those who are determined to roll up their sleeves and get to work, there’s also plenty to do outside your home and local organizations are leading the way in helping you get to work.
The Maple Ridge Transfer station has a year-round, yard waste area that will take your yard clippings and branches shorter than three metres.
You can also take advantage of Ridge Meadows Recycling Society’s annual spring brush chipping program this month. It includes pick-up of up to three cubic metres of tree and shrub branches. Pick-up is April 10 for homes west of 224th Street, and April 23 for homes east of 224th St.
“It’s a great way to reduce waste while you tackle your outdoor spring cleaning,” says Leanne Koehn of the recycling society.
She is also thrilled that the community has responded well to the annual sale of composters, rain barrels and solar cones, which dissolve meat and paper products.
Residents can still add their name to a waiting list for these reduced-cost items that can make a real difference to greening your outdoor spring clean-up efforts.
“I love my solar cone,” says Koehn. “It’s fantastic and I can get rid of a lot of things I can’t compost or recycle.”
There’s plenty of ways to green up your early spring cleaning efforts in the garden. Maple Ridge implemented a Pesticide Use Control bylaw in 2006 and the CEED Centre (ceedcentre.org) has plenty of tips on how to green up your soil, lawn and vegetable patch. You can even make your own bug spray, and the CEED Centre site lists 10 ways to get rid of pesky predators without toxins.
Back inside the house, there are also plenty of green cleaning recipes to create and choose from.
• All-purpose cleaner: teaspoon of vinegar, teaspoon of washing soda, a dab of environmentally-friendly liquid soap, two cups hot tap water. Combine in a spray bottle and shake until the washing soda has dissolved. Apply and wipe off with a sponge or rag.
• Window cleaner: quarter to half teaspoon of liquid detergent, three tablespoons of vinegar, two cups water. Put all the ingredients into a spray bottle, shake it up a bit, and use as you would a commercial brand.
• Mold killer: two teaspoons tea tree oil, two cups water. Combine in a spray bottle, shake to blend, and spray on problem areas. Do not rinse.