Dealing With Green Cleaning Complacency
Green cleaning is certainly not new. Scores of facilities throughout North America now have an effective green cleaning program in place. And in many situations, this strategy not only includes the transfer from traditional cleaning chemicals and equipment to those that are green and sustainable, but it often involves adopting cleaning procedures and practices that are now considered essential to an effective green cleaning program.
However, a big concern among many professional cleaning experts is that facility managers and cleaning professionals will become complacent about green cleaning and green cleaning practices, believing they have learned and now know all there is to learn. This complacency works against green cleaning because managers and custodial workers start to forget what the green cleaning program is all about, why they are selecting and practicing green cleaning, and worst of all, may actually drift back to using more traditional, non-green cleaning products and procedures.
Here are some suggestions on ways to stop complacency and keep green cleaning alive and well in your facility.
Look for new technologies. Ask suppliers what knew technologies have recently been introduced that help foster green cleaning. It must be admitted, some first-generation green cleaning products did not always meet performance expectations. However, many manufacturers are now on their second, third, and even fourth generation of green cleaning products, encompassing new technologies that have improved their performance and cost effectiveness.
Meet with competing vendors. It is usually a good practice to select only one vendor to purchase green cleaning products from. If for no other reason, they know your facility and your cleaning challenges. However, this does not mean you can’t meet with competing vendors to see what they have to offer. They may be working with suppliers that have introduced innovative green products your current supplier does not offer.
See what other buildings are doing. Managers and cleaning workers can learn a lot by seeing how other facilities are practicing a green cleaning program. What typically happens in these meetings is the discovery of new green cleaning products as well as an exchange of ideas that continues long after.
Educate cleaning workers. Most cleaning experts agree that just as in other professions, ongoing education is necessary for cleaning workers. Not only do they learn new practices and procedures that can help improve their cleaning effectiveness, but also they are reminded why your facility went green in the first place.
Tenant involvement. Green cleaning is designed to protect the user of the products, building users, and the environment. Because they are a core stakeholder in the program, getting tenants onboard is essential. Very often building users will purchase their own cleaning supplies for special cleaning projects. Frequently these products are not environmentally safe or have not met green certification standards. An effective green cleaning program is designed so that all chemicals and products used in the facility are green, including those purchased by building users. Tenant involvement helps ensure they are aware of this policy and helps tenants become an active part of the green cleaning program.
Are your vendors green? It can be difficult working with a supplier of, for instance, environmentally preferable cleaning supplies, when their own company does not have a green cleaning program in place. Many organizations, large and small, are now asking their vendors what green and sustainable programs they have implemented as well as their future plans. Ultimately it is a simple case of “practicing what you preach.” Most often, vendors that work in green and sustainable facilities are more attuned to the strategy than those that are not.
Finally, in dealing with green cleaning complacency, it is important that facility managers and custodial workers view green cleaning not as a “done deal,” but something that is ever evolving. Stephen Ashkin, long known as the father of green cleaning, compares the adoption of green cleaning to a train pulling out of the station, gradually but steadily gaining momentum. Using this analogy, remember that that train is still moving forward and along with it are advances in green cleaning products and technologies.
Jennifer Meek has been involved in the green cleaning industry for several years. She is now the director of marketing for Charlotte Products/Enviro-Solutions, a leading manufacturer of green cleaning products based in Canada.
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