Monday, December 7, 2009

Citra-Solv: One of the Best Eco-friendly All Purpose House Cleaners Out There

As the owner of a successful, green home cleaning business and one who has cleaned hundreds of homes (and counting), I know what's what when it comes to the eco-friendly all purpose cleaners out there these days.

To keep work interesting, I sample and switch cleaners regularly--kind of like we women do with our shampoos and conditioners--and also because I'm always looking for better ones, but I always return to the few trusted commercial solutions I've come to depend on as the core cleaners in my business.

And luckily, green alternatives have become so common place you won't have to look much further than a good, well-stocked grocery or drugstore for the ones I'm gonna tell you about on this blog.

The first one I will share is Citra-Solv, my go-to for really tough grease and old built-up grime. Before singing its many, many praises, though, I should warn strongly that this is some powerful solvent your dealing with here and it is NOT to be used in all situations. For instance, you don't want to use it, or any other acidic product, on your marble, granite, or any stone counter, floor, or surface. Just like acid rain, Citra-Solv will slowly eat away at it, degrading it's quality. So make sure to read the label before using it.

For general cleaning, I use a capful or two in a large bucket of hot water to disinfect and deoderize in the bathroom and kitchen. I use this bucket mixture, plus a full-strength douse of the cleaner right on a metal scrubby, along with a bit of non-abrasive cleanser like Bon Ami, to clean the cooked-on build-up inside of ovens. And I've been known to put a capful or two right into a load of really dirty laundry! It's also great full strength to get the gummy-glue of a label off of a glass container. It's orange oil base is so strong, that many artists use it to clean their paint brushes. And did I mention how fresh and bright a home smells after cleaning with it?

If I were permitted to take only one cleaner with me to a deserted island, Citra-Solv would be the one, hands-down.

Shop now for Citra-Solv.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Home Decor Recycling, Re-purposing and Up-cycling

I've recently become hooked on Apartment Therapy's website. They house an encyclopedic and ever-growing volume of information related to home decor and design, and heaps of information on food and cooking, and technology. Their take is fun, fresh, and very often GREEN. They're keen on re-purposing, recycling, up-cycling and purchasing used items.

I've been in a nesting mood recently, probably because of the colder weather here in NYC, and have found the site to be a source of great inspiration as I update parts of our uptown, one one-bedroom pre-war apartment.

When I clicked on the site today and saw posts detailing ingenious uses for several household items I knew I had to finally share AT here.

Here're just a few fashionable and fun home decor recycling projects to whet your crafty, frugal, GREEN appetite:

*Repurpose Old Towels Into Bolster Pillow
*Lightbulb Terrariums and Planters
*Repurposed Branches
*Upcycled Spray Cans
*Counter Made From Books

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Urban Container Gardening - How to Make your own EarthBox®, A Self-Contained Gardening System - YES YOU CAN!

Trademarked EarthBoxes are self-contained mini gardening systems that people with no yard or with very limited available outdoor space can use to grow vegetables and herbs . Even people with plenty of arable land are using these and similar contained systems because they produce yields more quickly and bountiful than traditional gardening can.

I first heard about them a few months ago listening to a radio interview with Ruth Reichl, who mentioned she uses several of them at her New York City apartment and I was instantly intrigued. For the first time in my long bout of country-girl-stuck-in-a-city-apartment-malaise I became hopeful that I might be able to pull off gardening sans overwhelming city logistics hassles.

Cinching the deal for me was seeing some of these store bought boxes do their thing on a client's rooftop recently. Their boxes, planted not more than a month ago, were bursting with a tangled jungle of vibrant, organic greens and produce fit to feed a hungry family and their friends for an entire summer.

The growing box fattens plants and their yields better than regular containers because it has a self-wicking system that sucks water stored in a reservoir from the bottom of the container up by simple capillary action. You simply keep the reservoir filled and the plants and soil self-regulate the water and nutrient movement. Completing the straightforward system is the tarp cover over the soil, that plants peek out of and that prevents moisture evaporation and soil erosion.

Many people will opt to purchase the original pre-fabricated EarthBoxes for the ease of clicking, ordering, having them delivered to their doorstep. You can find them here: EarthBox Online Store.

But for those of us bent toward do-it-yourself projects and frugality, the self-contained gardening boxes can easily be made at home for a fraction of the cost of the original ones. Here's a link I found to step-by-step illustrated directions for making them: I looked at several peoples' directions, but found Josh's best.

I've not constructed my earth box yet, but have begun collecting the needed materials. I'll tell you this, finding a pond basket in New York City is not easy. Saving myself a trip to a Flushing, NY store, I found in a Chinatown 99-cent store a plastic colander that will do the job as well. Tomorrow I will go down to the Plant District to find a proper size piece of bamboo piping. I should be able to build it by this coming weekend if all goes well. *I highly recommend reading through all the directions, making sure not to miss Josh's notes at the very end. He learns over time how to improve upon his original design.

Once you've read through the directions, and if you search online for others' enclosed container gardens, you will see there are many ways to improvise the design to achieve the same desired effects--bounteous harvests of organic produce to nourish you and your family.

*Originally written for Nourishing Moms.

Monday, April 6, 2009

New York City Feng Shui Consultations, Space Clearing - Westchester, New Jersey

Ms. Green-Clean has partnered with one of New York's top Feng Shui Lifestyle Experts to provide Feng Shui Consultations and Environmental Space Clearings.

Feng Shui is a time-honored, Chinese aesthetic healing tradition whose practitioners seek to achieve harmony & balance in clients' lives by properly arranging their homes and business environments.

Though ancient, the practical philosophy of Feng Shui remains current today and pulls greatly from what we would term "green" or "eco-friendly" ideals by seeking effective design solutions that encourage holistic coexistence with nature.

Ask yourself these questions regarding your home and/or work environment:

  • Does it support your life goals?

  • Does it express personal desires?

  • Does it nurture, energize, enrich & enhance your spirit?

  • Does your home represent your unique style & sense of beauty?

  • Do you have enough creative expression in your life?

  • Do you feel in balance & harmony?

  • Does your work fulfill you?

  • Does your relationship have the joy, commitment & depth of intimacy you desire?

  • Do you have a supportive family and community?

Depending on client's needs and space, the Feng Shui Consultant will utilize an individualized combination of approaches drawn from the following philosophies: form school, compass school, 5-element theory, ming qua, lo shoi portents, and flying star.

Space Clearing or Environmental Cleansing is a powerful participatory ceremony to remove impurities from your home or business. In honoring the earth, clearing a space is a technique effective in promoting health and encouraging a balanced and fulfilling life.

Environmental Cleansings can be used to initiate a change or mark a life transition, to promote health, prosperity and success.

Environmental Cleansings are especially effective at opening up new opportunities and creating more abundance in every day life.

Monday, March 23, 2009

New York City Eco-friendly, Low- No- Zero-VOC House Painting Service

I'm delighted to announce the launch of the first of several services that will ultimately comprise Ms. Green-Clean's Eco-Lifestyle Portal:

Eco-friendly Home Painting

I've just partnered with some of the best high-end interior decor painters in New York City (They also do exteriors). That they jumped on the green-bandwagon years ago and insist on using only low- and zero-voc (volatile organic compound) house paints--earth and people-friendlier versions of their highly toxic relatives--makes me swoon with pride.

One of the main reasons the EPA lists indoor air quality among the top 5 hazards to human health and rates it 3 times worse than outdoor air quality is paint. Paints and other coatings--like stain, varnish, lacquer and urethane--release low levels of toxic gas years after application. You would think once the smell is gone, the toxic gas is gone, but although the worst emissions occur during their initial application, the gasses continue to discharge from the surfaces over a period of years before finally becoming inert. Of course, by that time, you may need another coat of paint!

*Please note: The painters serve ALL New York City Boroughs--Manhattan, Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn & Staten Island, also Westchester County & Nearby New Jersey locations.

*For more information click here:

Envirocycle - The best urban composter

I recycle, scour my home with non-toxic cleaners, hang-dry my laundry, get my electricity from wind and hydrothermal sources, and drive a hybrid Prius when I don't take mass transit, so the logical next step on my tree-hugging path seemed clear: begin composting our kitchen scraps.

In the past, I'd successfully vermi-composted, but even though I became fond of the little red wrigglers, my husband really hated the worms, and I can't say I loved the fact they took up prime square footage in our one-bedroom apartment (pre-war and city-roomy as it may it be). So when I decided to try the urban composting experiment again, I was determined to find a viable, apartment-friendly option.

When my research turned up the smartly-designed Envirocycle I warmed with self-satisfaction. I'd found, quite simply, the best compact compost tumbler I'd ever seen. I purchased it immediately and within a week had sweet-talked the building's Superintendent into letting me house it in the basement laundry room by an open window near the recycling and garbage.

Meauring 30.5” x 25.5” x 20.25 and weighing in it at only 19 pounds, the diminutive composter packs a powerful punch. Or tea as the case may be.

The Envirocycle creates not only compost from your kitchen and yard scraps (You have a yard? Wow, aren't you a lucky New Yorker!), but through tiny holes in the drum that also serve as air inlets, its base collects the drippings and provides you with good-as-gold compost tea, a concentrated plant fertilizer and soil enhancer. Think super anti-oxidant for the botanical world.

Americans are moving in the right direction. We do recycle more and more each year , but unfortunately our waste continues to increase due to rising consumption and overall population growth.

In nature, food and paper decompose readily and nourish the soil (which then nourishes the plants and animals, filters rainwater and cleans the air). They are, however, the two largest components in landfills, accounting for nearly 50% of all municipal solid waste. There is more food and paper in landfills than diapers, styrofoam, and tires combined. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, food waste is the #1 least recycled material.

According to New York City's Department of Sanitation, organic materials – anything from yard, wood to food waste (not clear to me if this includes the paper I noted above for the national number) – make up 26 % of our total waste stream. That is 2,860 tons per day, and roughly 1 million tons per year of material that New Yorkers alone could compost.

Though I'm now hooked on the Envirocycle,there are other great composting options here in the city. Consider joining your neighborhood's community garden (They always have composting set up), start a vermi-composting bin (I'll write on this in the future, perhaps), or take your scraps weekly to a drop-off center.

I anticipate that soon it will be mandatory for New Yorkers, and all Americans, to recycle organic material as we do packaging and other items, but until then, take the (organic) matter into your own hands and start composting.

Click here to buy an Envirocycle Compost Tumbler & Tea Maker

Envirosax - Eco-friendly, Green Reusable Bags. Alternative to Paper & Plastic Shopping Bags

"They're like candy toys for adults," I told my sister on the phone last night after opening my neatly pouched set of five Amazonia Print Envirosax bags. "I'm gonna have to send you some." For years I've tried to beat my earth-harming plastic bag habit, but even having several canvas alternatives hanging on a hook RIGHT next to my front door I've never once remembered to take them along when I needed them. Not once. So when a friend a few weeks back giddily showed me her Envirosax and generously gifted me one of her five, I promptly tucked it away in my purse and began using it on my daily errands and shopping trips. I was so enamored of the one, I sent a five-set to my Mom for Mother's Day, then a few days later ordered the same set for myself. The bags store rolled up like fresh little sushi in their mama-kanga snap pouch. They are very lightweight and mooshable so store easily in backpacks, purses and glove compartments. They are waterproof and each one is able to hold the equivalent of 2 plastic shopping bags. And if all this efficiency and practicality were not enough, they are stylish and attractive, available in an assortment of graphic prints. And, if you want to pump up, or down, as the case may be, your environmental footprint, go for their organic series (100% petroleum free), made of hemp, bamboo or linen. Unfortunately, my impulsiveness made me miss this offering completely when I initially perused the site, but when I need to replace my current set I will definitely opt for this more earth-friendly choice. The next time you use plastic shopping bags keep in mind these facts sourced from the Australian Bureau of Statistics and The Environmental Protection Agency:
  • Plastic bags are made of polyethylene
  • Polyethylene is a petroleum product
  • Production contributes to air pollution and energy consumption
  • Four to five trillion plastic bags are manufactured each year
  • Americans use over 380 billion polyethylene bags per year
  • Americans throw away approximately 100 billion polyethylene bags per year
  • Of those 100 trillion plastic bags, 1% are recycled
  • It takes 1000 years for polyethylene bags to break down
  • As polyethylene breaks down, toxic substances leach into the soil and enter the food chain
  • Approximately 1 billion seabirds and mammals die per year by ingesting plastic bags
  • Plastic bags are often mistaken as food by marine mammals. 100,000 marine mammals die yearly by eating plastic bags.
  • These animals suffer a painful death, the plastic wraps around their intestines or they choke to death
  • Plastic bag choke landfills
  • Plastic bags are carried by the wind into forests, ponds, rivers, and lakes
Buy your envirosax bags here:

Welcome to the Ms. Green-Clean Eco-friendly Lifestyle Blog!

I'm glad to finally re-announce the Ms. Green-Clean Eco-friendly blog where I'll share green product and lifestyle tips, information, and stories.

I started the blog back in May of 2008, but didn't quite get the project flying as I'd hoped, so am re-launching it with renewed vigor and the intention to create an ever-growing, resource to simple, green living in New York City and beyond.

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