Businesses are increasingly responding to customer demands for corporate social responsibility. As of 2019, 90% of business leaders say consumers would hold them accountable for their company’s environmental impact. To meet the demand for environmental responsibility, companies are looking for ways to go green across their operations, including their cleaning programs. Organizations can implement an effective green cleaning program that combines sustainably manufactured supplies with reduced waste.
The benefits of green cleaning
A focus on sustainability, including the inclusion of a green cleaning program, has the potential to benefit the bottom line. According to a study of S&P 500 companies, corporations with sustainability strategies perform better financially, despite the common misconception that going green is costly.
Sustainability efforts also benefit a brand’s reputation with customers, employees, and recruits. A 2020 study found that almost 80% of Americans think sustainability is important, and nearly 60% would change their purchasing habits to reduce negative environmental impact. Reducing water and energy usage and plastic waste through a green cleaning program is one way that organizations can demonstrate their commitment to making immediate and long-term positive impacts on the environment.
Additionally, green cleaning supports employee health and wellness. Reduced productivity due to sick days can cost a company $2,660 per worker every year. When workers come to work while sick, they can cost the company even more by spreading illnesses to others. Green cleaning with safer certified products such as Green Seal® products improves indoor air quality and helps minimize allergy and asthma symptoms, thereby reducing costly absenteeism. In fact, best practices such as cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, along with hand washing hygiene, can reduce virus concentrations by 85.4%.
5 steps for implementing a sustainable cleaning program
To transform your operations into a green cleaning program, begin with the following steps:
- Set goals. Establish measurable goals for your green cleaning program. Make sure your team understands the commitment to meeting sustainability commitments in the facility. Establish an achievable timeline for achieving milestones such as: Having 30% more products made from recycled materials in inventory, reducing plastic waste by 20%, and communicating building occupant awareness of your efforts with signage in all restrooms and entrances.
- Perform a program assessment. Evaluate your current cleaning program to identify areas for improvement. Ask yourself questions such as: How many cleaning products are we ordering from carbon-emitting gas-guzzlers? How can we significantly reduce the amount of plastic waste we generate? Are there more sustainable products we can be using instead? The answers to these questions will inform the first actions your team takes to implement a green cleaning program.
- Switch to sustainable tools. Trade in your conventional equipment for high-quality mops, brooms, and brushes made from recycled material. Many sustainably produced cleaning products are available, including wet and dry mops made from 100% recycled textile waste and brooms made from 100% plastic bottles and bottle caps to help prevent more waste from ending up in landfills.
- Evaluate cleaning chemicals. Assess the ingredients of chemicals to ensure you are not unnecessarily purchasing multiples that accomplish the same task, such as for hard surface disinfection. Utilize products that reduce the environmental impact and waste associated with their production and disposal.
- Validate credentials. Many products may be engaging in “greenwashing,” or baselessly claiming to be sustainable without the science or third-party validation to support their claims. When selecting products, check for certifications from organizations such as Green Seal® with rigorous standards for sustainability. Additionally, look for products that are recognized by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Certification as part of a green facility.
Exceed customer expectations with sustainable cleaning
Developing a green cleaning program can help your organization’s goals to fulfill a commitment to employees, community and environment. It can illustrate an organization’s priority placed on sustainability as well as attracting new, long-term employees. By incorporating certified sustainable products into your facility maintenance program, you are assuring the community as well as employees of your commitment to doing your part to protect the planet.