|Dispelling Myths about Green Cleaning
|By Robert Kravitz, President AlturaSolutions
While correctional facilities may still not be placing Green cleaning at the top of the list when it comes to items to address, many will eventually need to grapple with this issue. This is because more and more Federal facilities and states throughout the country are now transferring from conventional to more environmentally friendly cleaning strategies in all of their facilities, from schools and offices to, yes, correctional locations.
For correctional facility administrators who have already gone Green, are in the process of transferring to Green cleaning, or know it is something they will have to focus on in the near future, one of the most important issues to address is differentiating fact from fiction when it comes to Green cleaning products and programs.
There are a number of common myths when it comes to Green cleaning. We asked Jennifer Meek, Director of Marketing and Head of Customer Relations at Enviro-Solutions, a leading manufacturer of Green cleaning products, to help us get to the truth.
Myth: Green cleaning products do not work.
Fact: This is probably the most common myth of all regarding Green cleaning products, and there is a reason for it. Most Green products introduced twenty or thirty years ago were relatively poor performers. However, in the past ten years, that has changed dramatically. In most cases, administrators will find there are now Green alternatives that work as well as if not better than conventional cleaning products.
Myth: Green cleaning products cost more than conventional products.
Fact: While this can be true for some Green products, it is certainly not true for all. In recent years, Green cleaning products have become very cost competitive with conventional products. Further, many administrators now refer to Green cleaning products as “cost neutral.” There are many reasons for this. Some Green products are so concentrated that even though they do cost more initially, they last longer and go further, eliminating the cost differential. Further, many facilities report work productivity goes up and absenteeism goes down when Green cleaning products are used. Though less tangible, this benefit also represents a cost savings.
Myth: Green cleaning is a fad.
Fact: This actually was the view of many experts in the professional cleaning industry until about ten years ago. But when more information came out about the benefits of Green cleaning—including improved student performance, enhanced worker productivity, and reduced absenteeism—and more and more facilities started seeking Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification (which requires the use of Green cleaning products) and realized the additional benefits of Green cleaning, what was once a fad became the new standard in cleaning.
Myth: It’s hard to tell if a Green cleaning product is truly Green or not.
Fact: This was true for many years, and is still true in some cases today. Recently, the Federal Trade Commission has recommended very specific guidelines designed to clear up the confusion. For instance, if a manufacturer says a product is Green, this claim has to be verified. Is the product Green because it was evaluated by a respected certification organization and tested by an independent laboratory? Or has the manufacturer “self-certified” the product? While this is admissible, manufacturers must now indicate when this is the case. When researching Green products, look for certification labels on the product from such organizations as Green Seal or EcoLogo (now UL/Environment).
Myth: Green cleaning simply means switching to Green cleaning chemicals.
Fact: Green cleaning encompasses virtually all tools, products, and equipment used in cleaning, as well as chemicals. For instance, switching to a high-filtration vacuum cleaner would be considered part of a Green cleaning strategy. A carpet extractor or floor machine that uses less chemical and water would be considered a more environmentally friendly system.
Myth: There aren’t many chemical manufacturers that make Green cleaning products.
Fact: As a manufacturer, I can tell you that virtually every major manufacturer in the professional cleaning industry has embraced Green cleaning. Nowadays, almost all of these companies manufacturer products designed specifically for Green cleaning strategies.
Myth: Green cleaning only involves products.
Fact: Green cleaning is more than products. It also involves cleaning procedures, processes, and methods. For instance, a Green cleaning program would include efforts to minimize floor refinishing cycles. Refinishing floors can be very detrimental to the environment; however, there are several ways to stretch refinishing cycles. This not only protects the environment, but typically provides a cost savings as well.
Myth: Now that we’ve gone Green, we’re done.
Fact: Facility managers and cleaning professionals should view Green cleaning as a journey. There is a starting point, but the process never really ends. New products, new procedures, and new ways to make facilities Greener and healthier are always being discovered.
Robert Kravitz is a writer for the professional cleaning, building, healthcare, and related industries.
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