Green Cleaning

What is green cleaning? Years ago we might have thought the answer had to do with cleaning mold.

Today, however, ask any school aged child what "green" means and the response will center around saving the earth. Be it recycling, conservation or healthy living, this buzzword is all about lessening our impact on the environment.

It should come as no surprise that even some of our cleaning methods can be described as green.

What does green cleaning really mean?

There is no hard fast definition for "green" because green is a concept not a thing. Green can be viewed as a process.

Defined by Wikipedia: Green cleaning is a term that has been coined to describe a growing trend in favor of using environmentally-friendly ingredients and chemicals for household, manufacturing and industrial cleaning. Green cleaning techniques and products avoid the use of chemically-reactive and toxic cleaning products which contain various toxic chemicals, some of which emit volatile organic compounds (VOCs) causing respiratory and dermatological problems among other adverse effects. Cleaning green can also describe the way residential and industrial cleaning products are manufactured, packaged and distributed. If the manufacturing process is environmentally-friendly and the products are biodegradable, then the term "green" or "eco-friendly" may apply.

Cleaning green is more than switching a few products or equipment. It’s about effective cleaning to create healthier buildings and at the same time reduce environmental impact.

A program of cleaning green is a comprehensive approach to cleaning that combines green cleaning products, equipment, tools, policies, procedures, training, and shared responsibility to minimize the impact of cleaning materials on the health of building occupants and the environment.

Its about "sustainability". Meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Building service contractors who wish to switch their current janitorial cleaning program to a green janitorial cleaning program can find definitions and guidelines for so doing on The United States Department of the Interior's website www.doi.gov/greening/links/upload/NPS-Green-Janitorial-Products-and-Practices-Guide.doc

Since green cleaning is a concept, the implementation of the guidelines are on a case by case basis rather than hard fast laws. These guidelines are also influenced by state and local governments.

This idea of sustainability is not limited to just commercial buildings. Any building, whether commercial or residential can benefit from a green building cleaning program.

In fact, when we consider how much more time is spent in our home environment compared to the work environment, a green building cleaning program for our home should be a top priority.

Of course, the guidelines for a green office cleaning program would be different than a green residential cleaning program. Both green programs, however, would share similar guidelines with respect to green carpet cleaning as well as user safe and environmentally friendly cleaning products.

As a way of keeping these guidelines uniform, many independent third party organizations have come into existence for testing and certifying cleaning green products, equipment and tools.

Some of the organizations that define environmentally friendly ingredients, characteristics, and performance standards of products we use to clean with, as well as the buildings we are cleaning include:

Green Seal www.greenseal.org

Carpet & Rug Institute Seal of Approval www.carpet-rug.org

United States Green Builing Council (USGBC) & Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) www.usgbc.org

The organizations listed are only a few and are not all inclusive. The list is ever growing. Like any governmental body, these certifying organizations can be subject to the influences of "lobby and special interest" groups which can water down or even change the Dept. of Interior's definition for cleaning green supplies.

Until all the controversy is sorted out and guidelines become standard, any cleaning product certified through these organizations should be double checked to verify the cleaning green product can be confidently used.


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