Greener Pastures: Kick off spring-cleaning season with Green Drinks at the Westin Resort |

Greener Pastures: Kick off spring-cleaning season with Green Drinks at the Westin Resort

Cassie Pence
Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado

Living with a superhero of cleanliness is not as glamorous as it sounds. The other day I was told to “stop standing on the bathmat.” Think about that for a second. Captain Vacuum likes his mat fresh and fluffy with absolutely no feet marks. I suggested hanging it on the wall, instead.

Jabbing aside, marrying a man who loves to clean does have its obvious advantages (bathmat rules aside). Bathrooms sparkle, kitchen is free of crumbs, and you should see our vacuum lines. This time of year, as business at Organic Housekeepers, our green cleaning company, begins to wane, Captain Vacuum really kicks into spring-cleaning mode.

To celebrate, on Tuesday at 6 p.m. we’ll be at the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa in Avon for Green Drinks teaching people some simple recipes and ways to clean green. The Westin’s Nate Hammer will discuss sustainability initiatives at the hotel, too, which is one of two hotels in Colorado with the prestigious Silver rating in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It’s $10 to get in, which includes yummy appetizers.

Organized in part by the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability, Green Drinks is a monthly social shindig among people who care about a healthy planet. This particular Green Drinks marks the event’s resurgence here in our valley. These events are very simple, but many people have found employment, made friends, developed new ideas, done deals and had moments of serendipity. It’s a force for the good.

So why make your own cleaning products, you ask? Many reasons, but my top three are: It’s easy, it’s cheap, and it’s healthy. You cannot achieve fresh during this seasonal scrubbing by using conventional cleaning products. Harsh, synthetic-based cleansers work to muck up the air in your home – not to purify it. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (and I know you’ve heard this one before), the air inside our homes is two to five times more polluted than the air outside, and toxic cleaning products are one of the main contributors to indoor air pollution.

Thanks to genius marketing, we are tricked into thinking we need a thousand different products with a thousand different specialty purposes to clean our homes – a spray for the toilet, a spray for the shower, a spray for the kitchen, a spray for wood furniture. That’s all just lip service. The truth is, you can clean your home with a limited amount of ingredients, most of which you can find in your pantry.

For example: “In vinegar veritas.” In vinegar is where you’ll find cleaning truth. Versatile vinegar is the powerhouse of green cleaning. Vinegar kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold and 80 percent of germs (viruses), according to Annie Bond, author of “Clean and Green.” Organic Housekeepers dilutes vinegar in water in a spray bottle and uses it to dust, clean glass and polish fixtures and stainless steel. Pour about 1⁄4 cup in a bucket of water, and use it to mop hard-wood floors. During a spring clean, use it to wipe down kitchen cabinets inside and out. The only caution is because of vinegar’s natural acid content, do not use it on natural stone, as it could etch it.

Want to know more – like how to make your own natural wood polish, which is one of the more toxic products on supermarket shelves or how to scour your tub with baking soda or how to make your own sponge? Visit us on Tuesday at the Westin, and brush up your spring-cleaning skills with a little superhero help.

Freelance writer Cassie Pence is passionate about living a more sustainable lifestyle. She owns Organic Housekeepers, a green cleaning company, and is actively involved in the Eagle-Vail Community Garden, the Eagle Valley Alliance for Sustainability and Slow Food Vail Valley. Contact her at

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