When Tracy Eby returned to Canada from Taiwan, she knew she wanted to start an ecologically friendly business.

The result of her desire is Buff and Shine, the residential cleaning service that was recently nominated for the Barrie Business Green Community Award.

While working as a teacher in Taiwan, teaching English to executives from Acer and students at after-school programs, Eby saw firsthand how the Asian country reduced its environmental impact by encouraging recycling with financial incentives and discouraged disposable goods through the implementation of eco-taxes.

Shocked at how far behind Canada is when compared to the rest of the world on environmental issues, Eby decided to walk the walk, leading by example with her green business and educating clients along the way.

Apart from the emissions of her work vehicle, Buff and Shine is a zero waste business.

Eby uses a bagless vacuum cleaner, composting everything that her vacuum picks up. The recycled, brown paper towels she cleans with are recycled again after being used and her microfiber cleaning cloths are washed and used repeatedly.

“I’ve got cloths that I’ve been using continuously for two years now and they’re still in excellent shape,” she says.

While the bottles her cleaning products come in can be recycled, Eby refills them and keeps using them too. Refilling and reusing, rather than buying anew, helps limit her business’ and her clients’ ecological footprint. It also saves money for everyone involved.

Years ago, consumers had to pay high prices to buy environmentally friendly products.

Most people’s budgets only allowed for the unsafe chemical cleaners, so choosing to go green just wasn’t an option.

Those days are long gone. The products Eby uses are not only cheaper to buy, but they can be refilled for about $1. Some even last twice as long as the cleaning products found on grocery store shelves.

In her business, Eby uses professional cleaning products such as the Attitude and Dura Plus lines. She researches all the products she uses, making certain they are certified as ecologically friendly and carcinogen-free before she’ll even think of employing them.

“I’m not going to put something in the home of a family that’s going to hurt them. Breathing in second-hand cleaning fluid fumes is the same as breathing in second-hand smoke,” she says.

Eby samples everything in her own home, making sure the products get the job done right the first time. She has tested and discarded environmentally friendly products that smelled great but just didn’t work. All of the cleaning products that end up being used by Buff and Shine get the job done and are safe. Families with children and pets need not worry about them getting sick from touching or licking cleaned surfaces. Vacationers can safely clean their cottages and boats with them, because the products are safe for septic systems and won’t pollute lakes or streams.

While you won’t find the cleaners Buff and Shine uses in the aisles of your local grocery store, they are all available locally at Simcoe Hygiene Services.

You can purchase the exact same products Eby uses without having to worry about being a business, or needing some kind of card or membership. Thanks to Eby’s lobbying efforts, Simcoe Hygiene Services also refills empty cleaning bottles.

Through Buff and Shine, Tracy Eby reminds us that while we currently live in a world of disposable goods filled with toxic chemicals, we shouldn’t treat ourselves as disposable beings to be filled with toxic chemicals.

Using and reusing ecologically friendly products gets carcinogens out of our homes and reduces our impact on the environment, helping us live long healthy lives on a less polluted planet.

Aaron Reynolds is a freelance writer born and raised in Barrie. He is currently filling in for Donna Douglas, who returns in September.

Tracy Eby, Buff and Shine