Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Green your Giving!

Mary's Gone Crackers-so good!
The weather here in Hattiesburg on a day-to-day basis may suggest otherwise, but it's Christmastime yall! We aren't kids anymore, but there are plenty of reasons to love the holiday season, from good food to gatherings. Spiked apple cider. So many reasons!
But let's face it, Christmas in America is a pretty wasteful event. You have wrapping paper, excessive gifting, holiday traffic, crazy debt spending and more creamy dips than you can shake a gluten-free cracker at.

Side note: While I am not gluten-free, I do recommend Mary's Gone Crackers (shown at right), made of yummy seeds! You can pick them up in downtown Hattiesburg at the New Yokel on Main Street.

So let's take the good and the bad, and talk about how you can make this season more green (and save some too). Here's how to green your giving in 5 easy tips:

1) Say no to paper.
We live in a packaged world. It's a little redundant to take home a product that is probably already protected in plastic and stuffed in a shopping bag and then turn around and wrap that present in more paper for the recipient. Don't get me started on bows!
I get the element of surprise-- but here are some other ways to amp up your big gift reveal.
- Homemade gift bags: For the sew savvy, turn a square of fabric into a cloth version of the classic paper bag. Finish the top edge with pinking shears, fold like a sack lunch. Hole punch two holes thru the top of the bag and tie off with hemp string. These bags can be reused for years to come. You an also purchase reusable cloth bags from retailers and use as gift bags. My personal favorite is the Hattiesburg Farmers Market tote (lined for temperature sensitive items), which is a bonus gift in itself!
- Recycled paper: Pull a few pages of the newspaper from your recycling bin and treat as regular wrapping paper. Be sure to recycle the aftermath.
- Give wine. No one will care that you didn't wrap it. They will be too busy thanking you to notice.
- For a little holiday destressing, try Furoshiki. It's a traditional Japanese wrapping cloth that can do wonders. Check it out in action here.

2) Recycle your live Christmas tree.
Your gifts have to sit under something, but unfortunately by mid-January all that green has got to go. Don't just throw your live tree to the curb! If you have the means, grind it up for ground cover in your yard. You can also toss the tree in to the bottom of a lake or pond, so it can serve as a prime hiding spot for fishies. And here are some quirky alternatives to the tree itself.

3) Give favors/experiences instead of presents. 
You did it when you were 9, and you can do it again with an adult twist. Hand write a "Gift Certificate" for personal favors, such as "Girls Night, my treat" or "Homemade Steak Dinner Delivered!" Half the fun will be deciding how and when to redeem these goodies!

4) Shop Local. 
When you spend $1 with a local business, you can bet that company reinvests 60 cents back into our community (on average), versus only 6 cents reinvested from that same dollar in a big box store. It's a different type of recycling, but it's a smart way to keep your dollars at home! Don't know where to begin? Try your local Main Street organization. In Hattiesburg, ours is called the Historic Hattiesburg Downtown Association. These programs usually have a website with an online list of shops and printed brochures so that you can park in one location and walk to several small businesses at once.

5) Buy Freedom! 
Of course, we have to plug ourselves here. Over the next 2 weeks, you'll likely be shopping and cooking and coordinating and merrymaking, meanwhile the house isn't going to clean itself. Dirt is a year round fact, but for some reason, it's extra tenacious when you're trying to entertain. That's why we're here--to lend a cleaning hand and help you regain precious hours of your life. Give us a call to learn how we can help you with a pre- or post-party spruce up, a deep cleaning or regular service.
Freedom Cleaning also offers gift certificates so you can make someone else's life easier (and sparklier) too!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

What would you like to see?

Freedom recycling at Live @ Five
Freedom has really evolved this fall. We've relocated our office to West Pine Street, expanded to the Gulf Coast, grown our contractor base to include four new cleaners, and added more than a dozen new clients. We ran recycling at public events every opportunity we could. We celebrated two years in business on November 11. Now that it's early December and the new year is on its way, it's time for a little reflection, for goal setting and for the dreaded "T" word: taxes.

The winter months are traditionally slower for local business as people recover from holiday spending. I like to use this time to map out the year ahead and to evaluate our systems.
Yesterday, we had our final contractor meeting of the year. At the end, they gave their own feedack. It's always heartwarming to see bright, talented folks getting excited and even competitive about their natural cleaning skills. So proud of the whole crew that keeps this business running and how they have all grown individually and as a team. They have taught me so much and I'm blessed to work alongside them.

This is also the time of year to take a little vacation, to void the brain of its busyness and get inspired to reach new heights.

How would you like to see Freedom Cleaning expand its services in 2014? We're all ears.