Green Cleaning: Earth Day

Act quickly to showcase green cleaning.

These days, the nation routinely debates environmental issues such as climate change, energy independence, green jobs, and air and water pollution. The interest in Earth Day (April 22) is moving beyond devoted environmentalists to students and the community at large.

The impact of this growing interest has affected schools and universities. As early adopters and leaders in many environmental categories, many education institutions will want to showcase their environmental accomplishments on Earth Day. Most will focus on energy efficiency, purchasing of recycled products and water-conservation efforts. But the people responsible for cleaning school facilities need to showcase their green cleaning efforts. This will help their institutions look good, and it can help demonstrate the importance of cleaning.

To help showcase green cleaning accomplishments, develop a few options before talking to others in the institution, such as the director of buildings and grounds, vice president of operations or those responsible for all facilities-related activities.

A first option might be to develop a flyer or poster, in case this is all the institution will allow. Use this to illustrate accomplishments, especially if a reduction of chemicals, paper, water use and waste has been measured. Other bullet points in the flyer or poster can include the use of green chemicals, paper, liners, equipment, training programs, and other green products and activities. Always remember to “connect the dots” by specifying the health and environmental benefits gained through the action.

A second option is to think about a tabletop display. Products to consider for display include:

  • Green cleaning products, especially if the label includes a “seal of approval” that makes it easy to engage occupants about green issues.

  • Microfiber cloths and other chemical-free cleaning devices to draw attention to the potential for eliminating chemicals for some cleaning applications, and the benefits of eliminating the impacts caused by the extraction of raw materials, manufacturing and packaging.

  • “Green” toilet tissue to demonstrate that environmentally friendly paper doesn't have to be low-quality or scratchy. It can come from fibers that are rapidly renewable and mature in less than 10 years.

  • Backpack or other high-efficiency vacuums with high-filtration filters to explain why it's important to capture small particles.

  • Entrance mats of different types to explain the importance of capturing soils before they enter a building.

  • A mop bucket and wringer to introduce the importance of durability and its positive effect on the environment.

  • Ergonomic tools to demonstrate that green cleaning is about protecting not only the environment, but also the health and safety of personnel.

Stephen Ashkin is executive director of the Green Cleaning Network, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit educational organization. He can be reached at [email protected].

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