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Supporting the environment one garbage can at a time

Clean one, plant one – local business plants a tree for every garbage or recycling can it cleans

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July 12, 2023

GREEN BAY – Founded on the motto – “Clean One, Plant One” – supporting its customers and the environment goes hand and hand for Northwoods Bin Cleaners, LLC, a family-owned small business specializing in garbage and recycle can cleaning services.

The residential curbside cleaning service, which is based in Green Bay and owned and operated by Tyler Carter, plants a tree for every bin it cleans.

“It’s an ode to Arbor Day and our commitment to the planet to leave a lasting impression for generations to come,” Carter said.

Why this industry?
Carter said he had been looking to start his own business for a while.

“I was looking at some pressure washing industries, and that’s when I stumbled upon the garbage and recycling bin cleaning industry,” he said. “I had really never heard of it because it mostly happens in the warmer climates in (southern states).”

This led to Carter inspecting his own garbage and recycling bins – it was then, he said he knew he’d found his niche.

“We had just moved to a new house – sometimes you inherit those bins,” he said. “I knew it would be an industry that would make a big impact and something people would love to have done professionally.”

Like detailing a car, Carter said he takes care of every nook and cranny on the bins from the outside to the inside and wipes it dry to ensure no harmful bacteria start to grow back.

Because temperatures need to be above freezing, Northwoods offers services typically from April to November.

Carter said Northwoods curbside services are offered five days a week throughout Northeast Wisconsin – specific areas of service are listed at

Carter said there are a few reasons why folks should consider getting their garbage/recycling bins cleaned professionally.

From bugs and diapers to germs and bacteria – he said smells can create a toxic and sticky environment.

Carter said a garden hose and Dawn dish soap aren’t enough to kill the germs and bacteria in and on the bin.

Plus, he said, it’s not just the inside of the bin that needs cleaning.

Northwoods uses 200-degree water, a 2,500-3,000 PSI pressure washer and disinfectants (no chemicals), which Carter said breaks down the grime leaving the bins and surrounding area smelling fresh and clean.

Carter said the cleaning process covers everything.

“The hot water kills 99% of the bacteria and germs in the bin,” he said. “We clean the outside, we clean the inside – any touch spot you have, such as the handle on the front of the bin. Then we spray overall with a biodegradable disinfectant to ensure the bacteria stays away as long as possible.”

Carter said he takes pride in completing the job leaving it spic and span clean – a service folks may not realize they need until they see, and smell, the difference.

Because temperatures need to be above freezing, Northwoods offers services typically from April to November. Submitted Photo

He said it’s not just about aesthetics – but rather all-around hygiene.

“If you’ve got kids opening and closing your garbage bin in your garage they may not think to wash their hands,” he said. “If you leave the bins in your garage, especially in the summer, whether it’s empty or not, it’s going to stink.”

Northwoods Bins offers monthly plans starting at $30.

Bi-monthly plans start at $40 and seasonal cleanings – which include one cleaning in the spring and one in the fall – are $100.

A yearly cleaning is $60.

All plans include two bins.

Extra bins are $5-10 based on the plan.

Carter said the process takes about 10-15 minutes for a bin to be cleaned, a little longer for yearly-only cleanings.

He said on average, he can do about 20-30 cleanings a day depending on the dirtiness of the bins.

Offering curbside services, Carter said Northwoods cleans bins and sets them back where customers put them.

“It’s a hands-off process for the homeowner,” he said. “The mess that was on the inside of your garbage and recycling bins goes with Northwoods.”

Community growth
Because of the unpredictable temperatures of Wisconsin, Carter said the type of service Northwoods offers is not common in the area.

But interest, Carter said, is growing – partly due to word of mouth, on-the-spot education and social media.

“I think a big thing is when Tyler is doing the cleaning, people walk up to him and ask him and want to know more about the industry,” Abbey Carter, Tyler’s wife said. “He was doing one on the east side of Green Bay, and then all of a sudden, he had four signups that same day, that same neighborhood. So, getting the word out there and having him speak upon what he’s doing and how it’s helping everybody is important.”

Social media, Tyler said, has been a large part of the business’s success.

Because of the industry he’s in, Carter said it’s easy to get creative with the advertising and marketing Northwoods can do.

“In one of our first (advertisements), we had our dog put his paws on the back of the bin and we took a side view of it,” he said. “It looked like he was pushing the bin down the street.”

‘Clean One, Plant One’
One aspect of the business that gets quite a bit of interest, Carter said, is its “Clean One, Plant One” commitment.

“I wanted to be unique from every other business that is just trying to make money,” he said. “I wanted to try and give back to the community where it seems all we’re doing is building more houses and taking more habitat away for everything.”

For Arbor Day this year, Northwoods Bin Cleaning donated 400 trees to his kids’ school for planting.

“When I was a kid, Arbor Day was a big deal because you always got a pine tree,” he said. “There’s still Arbor Day pine trees in my parent’s yard from 20-some years ago.”

For Arbor Day this year, Northwoods Bin Cleaning, LLC owner Tyler Carter donated 400 trees to his kids’ school for planting. Submitted Photo

Carter said keeping the tradition alive is key, and as the business continues to grow, it may donate to more schools or donate trees to the Department of Natural Resources to plant in habitats that need them. 

“We bought 500 trees this year,” he said. “I want to keep growing, and I want to triple that next year.”

An 8-5 supervisor to an entrepreneur
Growing up, Carter said his dad was an entrepreneur for a short while – an interest that stuck with him as he grew older.

Coming from a career as a supervisor in logistics warehousing, Carter said he understood how to keep the flow of work going so the lights stay on and the business is running.

Transitioning from managing around 20 people to owning his own business, Carter said some of the experiences he had in those supervisor roles have helped him get where he is today, business-wise.

“A lot of those experiences are important, and you don’t realize it until you’re on your own,” he said. “It shapes you and helps you lead by yourself in a sense.”

After three years of research and hours of discussions with his wife Abbey, Carter said he knew if he didn’t hop on this idea, someone else was going to.

“I thought he was crazy because we have two young kids,” Abbey said. “You can’t start a business thinking you’re going to make a million dollars – it doesn’t happen that way.”

Abbey said, for her, it was important it all made sense.

“I needed to make sure this is something we could do and be successful at,” she said. “The time came, and I’m like, ‘yep, let’s do it. We can do it. I know the steps to get to the next point.’”

Tyler said Abbey is the sounding board for many of his decisions.

Moreover, the “board of directors” as Tyler and Abbey called them, which includes their dog Moose and their two kids, are an integral part of the business. 

“When people realize the problem we’re solving, I think they’re going to be on board,” he said. “And again, if it’s something that gives back to the community like trees, I think it sets us apart from the average entrepreneur who’s trying to provide for your family.”

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