Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Being Eco-Friendly: What Does It Mean?

Eco-Friendly Gardening and Cleaning

This year we have been thinking about the changes that we can make to our company to be more environmentally friendly. When visiting Burma I was conscious of how far on the UK is in terms of recycling and factors affecting air pollution. However, on the other side I am always amazed at the amount of fields and farm land left untouched and in it's natural state- where as here it seems there are buildings going up everywhere. This caused me to think about how our business could help the environment and how we could be more environmentally friendly in our own garden and home. 


When I was thinking about being environmentally friendly, one person that kept coming to mind was Amy from Green Hills Cleaning. I know Amy from twitter and she is such a friendly, genuine person with a huge passion for cleaning without chemicals. I wanted to share her knowledge of eco-friendly cleaning on this blog as it's a great example. Before that, let's think about...

What does eco-friendly mean?

Eco friendly is a buzz word that is thrown around so much these days, be it on the news, in adverts or even on product packaging. But what does it really mean?

Eco-friendly means not being harmful to the environment. You can be more eco-friendly in your daily life by being conscious of how you use resources- like water and energy or by buying eco-friendly products to try to minimise the impact on the environment. It can also mean being 'nature friendly' or 'green' - habits such as recycling, composting and providing habitats for animals and insects can be included in this.



So what ways are there to be Eco-friendly? 

The two ways I want to focus on are: being eco-friendly in the home and the garden. Here I would like to introduce the lovely Amy who is the director from Green Hills Cleaning Limited- an Eco-friendly, organic cleaning service for domestic, office and lettings clients.


Being Eco-friendly in the home

Amy says: 
"I started my business as my youngest son had developed asthma and was particularly bad when chemical cleaning products were used in our home. Since switching to organic cleaning, my son's health has improved markedly and I can feel good knowing I am helping our environment too.

Keeping your cleaning organic is vitally important in keeping the environment and landscape we love green and healthy.
Most chemical cleaning agents are harmful (containing SLS/SLES compounds) and damage not only wildlife and fish, but also the soil itself.

You may not think that cleaning the inside of your home or office has much impact on the environment, but when you rinse these chemicals away they ultimately end up in our rivers and ground water which then seeps into the soil. From the soil, the chemicals can affect not only the flowering plants in our gardens but also the food chain as they are absorbed by the vegetables we grow to eat.



Green Hills Cleaning uses ethically sourced, organic products from the Greenscents range www.greenscents.co.uk 
These products are locally sourced in Somerset, use organic ingredients blended with Exmoor spring water and fragranced with Fair Trade essential oils. They are safe for people, animals and water Eco-systems.

The products we use are also Soil Association certified - meaning that they meet the strict organic criteria laid down by this organisation and have full transparent trace-ability  Inspections are carried out annually, ensuring that our products continually safeguard wildlife and soil health.

However, in addition to this, the majority of our cleaning is done simply with a micro-fibre cloth and pure water. Our results prove that you don't need to use chemicals in your home at all, despite what the big manufacturers may tell us."


Zero chemicals = zero water and soil contamination and a greener, safer garden.


So, what can you do to be Eco-friendly in your garden?

Here is some food for thought on how you could be Eco-friendly in your garden.

Composting

Composting is hugely beneficial for the environment and useful for your garden too. 
We have touched on this before in our blog "Green waste - what can be done with it"

Composting is a way of biodegrading waste that can be used for nutrients for your garden. When composting is done properly it can provide many benefits for the soil, provide nutrients, slow down weed growth and have a positive affect on climate change.

Collect and reuse rain water

Collecting and reusing rain water is one of the simplest things to set up. Rainwater can be collected from the roof of garages, sheds or homes using the gutter and drain pipe to filter down into a water butt. During the summer this will be particular helpful when there are water restrictions in place. By reducing your use of mains water, you are not only helping the environment but also your pocket if you are on a water meter!

Birds and Bees

It is a pleasure to watch birds in the garden, our little ones are fascinated by them.
This last few years have had some very cold winters... this last winter seems to have lasted 6 months! You can put out food and water for birds all year round, but it is this winter time that it is  especially important to put out high fat contents food stuffs. The RSPB website has some useful advice on helping birds. Don't forget to hang bird feeders and bird baths out the way if you have cats. We have a little dog so we hang our bird feeder from a pergola hidden by a climber so that the birds feel protected.


The subject of bees has recently been on my mind a lot lately. I hate to admit it, but I had never really given them proper thought until it was mentioned to me how easy it was to create a habitat for them and how important they were to the eco-system. A quote that I read recently on a blog from  Vialii Garden Services on Landscape Hub really brought it home- 

It is estimated that one third of the food that we consume each day relies on pollination, mainly by bees, and it is often said that if bees died out, humans would follow just four years later.”


To find out more about planting for bees- please read the rest of the blog- which can be found here: Get the Buzz - Planting for Bees


Right Plant, Right Place

Planting flowers and shrubs in the right location and soil will ensure they have the best start to life and enable them to thrive. 

By planning your planting and researching the suitability of  your soil for plants, shrubs and trees you will be preventing plants from dying and outgrowing the space.








Pests

We have spoken before to customers about going 'chemical free' and mostly the reaction is one of horror! Well, maybe not that strong, but those who are used to using pest killer presume that the worst will happen and their garden will be over run by beasties. It is possible to start with a small degree of that will happen, but have you considered that by killing some pests you may have been killing the predators too?

One of the points that we mentioned before about getting a bird feeder will help - as small birds such a tits will eat aphids and some birds such as thrushes have been known to eat snails. It will require a bit more work and may not be suitable for your garden, but creating a pond will encourage frogs who are partial to a slug or two!

Try to plant out your garden with as much variety as possible- this will bring a variety of insects into the garden who will do the pest control for you! Also, by not spraying you will give nature a chance to do it's thing.

There are numerous other ways that you can be Eco-friendly in your garden, like having a wildlife garden.. we will mention these in another blog as we are going to featuring our own garden soon and the changes we have made to be more Eco-friendly... including a habitat for bees, a living roof and growing our own vegetables and fruit.

For more information on organic cleaning or to purchase organic cleaning products please take a look at www.greenhillscleaning.co.uk or contact info@greenhillscleaning.co.uk.

We hope that you found this short guide to being Eco-friendly useful. Now over to you- what ways are you Eco-friendly or what changes could you make to be more Eco-friendly?