Green Cleaning: Earth Day Drill

April 1, 2015
Earth Day is a terrific opportunity to to highlight green cleaning.

While Earth Day is officially April 22nd, it is often celebrated by schools and universities throughout the entire month of April. For many, it is a time for creating awareness about campus greening activities including those associated with facility operations. It is also a terrific opportunity to highlight green cleaning as Earth Day is about much more than just recycling. Use the opportunity to teach students and staff about the health and environmental benefits of using greener products, as well as what they can do in their own homes, apartments and residence halls.

One of the most effective ways to accomplish this is to enlist the local cleaning products vendor and/or janitorial company to host an information table. They can “exhibit” some of their green cleaning products and tools – and be prepared to discuss them with students and staff.

Some examples of products and equipment to showcase:

  • Paper Products With Post-Consumer Recycled Content: Show samples of green paper products made with post-consumer recycled content and explain the environmental benefits of using recycled products. If using hands-free paper towel dispensers, consider showing one and explain why hands-free dispensers reduce cross contamination.
  • Microfiber Cloths: Show examples of microfiber cloths (better yet, see if a vendor will give away some samples) and explain why microfiber products are better than paper towels or sponges. There are different qualities, different blends depending on the use, color coding to minimize cross contamination, and the stitching on the edges affects how many times they can be laundered. 
  • Green Cleaning Chemicals: Show some green certified chemicals and discuss how the seal or mark instills confidence that the products have been tested for health, safety, environmental impacts and performance. Also consider showing a dispenser for the concentrated chemicals and explain the benefits of using this type of equipment as compared to just “glugging” it into the bucket.
  • Green Hand Soap: A key component of protecting health is consistent hand washing. Show the hand soap being used and explain why CDC does not recommend hand soap with antibacterial ingredients (i.e. Triclosan). And consider a discussion about hand sanitizers including when and when not to use them.
  • Vacuum Cleaner and High Filtration Bags: Show a high-filtration vacuum cleaner and bag. Backpacks and battery powered vacuums can be interesting for discussion purposes, and the vendor might even have one of the new robots which while not ready for commercialization are also interesting to talk about. Explain why it is important to capture fine particulates, which can be inhaled deep into the lungs. 
  • Entry Mats: Show an entryway mat and explain why it is important to capture dirt before it enters the building. Explain the need for different types of mats depending on weather and other considerations. Endorse the use of high quality mats at home (and possibly a “no shoes” policy).
  • Mops, Buckets and Other Tools & Supplies: Microfiber flat mops and two-compartment mop buckets create an opportunity to talk about reducing cross contamination and the need to avoid simply spreading the dirt around, as well as strategies to reduce water consumption. This could be another opportunity to talk about innovations in green cleaning. 
  • Plastic Can Liners: Showcase right-sized plastic can liners made with a high percentage of post-consumer recycled content.

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