Does Green Mean Clean?

We have all heard the popular term “going green.” In making a commitment to reduce global warming, pollution, loss of animal habitats, and other environmental concerns, many organizations, government agencies, and corporations have implemented substantial measures.

It’s important to test for effectiveness before committing to using “green” cleaning products.

Parks and recreation entities, specifically, have evolved over the past 10 years to sustain the environment by reducing waste, recycling more, using more environmentally sound products, and becoming more responsible through better policies and procedures.

Environmental concerns are considered in all of these decisions. One such decision is the use of green cleaning products instead of chemicals to clean park facilities.

This decision is more complex than one might think; it involves the evaluation of cost, ease of use, and, most important, effectiveness of the product.

Define The Difference

Why would an organization want to use green cleaning products? Basically, typical chemical cleaners, while effective, have ingredients that are hazardous to the environment.

Some cleaners release vapors into the air while others force a certain amount of residual product down the drain; further, cleaning personnel are exposed to the hazards through their skin and eyes.

Choosing less-hazardous products minimizes the harmful effects on custodial staff, and reduces water and ambient air pollution while cleaning biological and other contaminants from a building’s interior.

Green cleaning products contain biodegradable materials, low toxicity, and low volatile organic contents.

Implement A Policy

Whether an organization uses a contracted custodial service or employs facility custodians and park attendants, the decision to green clean is an important one. Creating an environmentally preferable purchasing program is an initial step.

This policy encourages employees and contractors to purchase and use environmentally preferable products established by the government or other recognized authorities, such as Energy Star, Green Seal, EcoLogo, and EPA Purchasing Guidelines.

With this approach, employees are encouraged to purchase green cleaning products, waste-reduced products, and products made of recycled paper and/or recyclable materials. This ensures consistency in the use of green products for all facilities, and does not leave decisions up to individual employees or contractors.

From Fad To Requirement

For organizations still using traditional chemical products, the question is how effective are green cleaning products? Do they really kill germs?

Consider the city of Henderson, Nev., and its experience with green cleaning. The city uses the Department of Public Works custodians for the main buildings, the park maintenance staff for all park facilities, and contracted custodians to clean recreation and utility services facilities.

Using green cleaning products can be both economical and environmentally friendly.

The Public Works custodians, who clean many of the city’s buildings, which total 790,000 square feet, have been using green products for years.

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