In the ongoing efforts of Americans to become more environmentally friendly many companies are starting to sell and use green cleaning products. These products are advertised as environmentally friendly, with ingredients that are non-toxic to both human beings and our environment. While traditional cleaning agents often use harsh chemicals that can create fumes, burn skin and lung tissue, and damage the ecosystem, green cleaning products purport to be biodegradable and safer for human use than traditional products.
In industry, green cleaning can refer not just to the ingredients of a cleaning product but also to how that product is manufactured and distributed. For example, if a business has a sustainable business model, working to take steps such as eliminating waste, recycling, cleaning their water before discharge into waterways, and minimizing transportation by creating their products close to the use site these acts can contribute to the “greenness” of a product.
Finally, green cleaning can also refer to how an industrial or commercial building is kept. The U.S. Green Building Counsel has included “green cleaning” as part of its standard for its coveted LEED certification system. In this system, a building can earn LEED points by implementing environmentally sound cleaning practices include biodegradable cleaners, air filtration and more.
Economics of Green Cleaning While the price of green cleaners is coming down as demand goes up, they are still more expensive than traditional cleaning products. However, with a little research it is actually possible to save money in some areas by going green. For example, consumers have known for years that cleaning their own homes with eco-friendly vinegar and baking soda works great to kill germs and scrub away a variety of dirt; this can work well in larger scale applications with just a little research and staff training. By learning what can be cleaned with inexpensive naturals like water, vinegar and baking soda (among other things), you can decide what manufactured green products to put your money into. Also, with a little research you can learn what products are made by companies who have instituted sustainable business processes. Though their products may not be green themselves, if the manufacture and business is green then using these products is at least a step in the right direction.
Customer Satisfaction with Green Cleaning While green cleaning can cost a bit more in product costs, research and staff training, it can also be a big turn-on for customers. Today “green” is the word, and advertising your business facility as eco-friendly, hypoallergenic or green impresses a lot of customers; this shows that a business cares for its employees, customers and the environment. Furthermore, going green can earn you certifications giving you extra exposure and impressive certification logos to add to your website and print materials. By communicating sustainable business practices to your customers you let them know that your company has a conscious and is working on what is important to us all.
Government Oversight of Green Cleaning and Cleaning Products A variety of organizations have sprouted up to ensure the integrity of businesses claiming to have gone green. The Green Seal is one organization that certifies businesses for green cleaning. Of course, the GBB also provides certifications and maintains databases of green businesses. The United States government has also gotten in on the green certification action. Specifically, the Environmental Protection Agency has created Design for the Environment (DfE), a program that certifies cleaning products as eco-friendly. To earn this certification a product must be tested to perform well, be environmentally friendly and be reasonably priced.