As the importance of green cleaning rises within the industry, so does the emergence of best practices for implementing a green cleaning program in facilities. Green cleaning refers to a system that utilizes both green chemicals and cleaning tools. While having the right tools is a great first step, there is more to green cleaning than the proper supplies.
Lay the foundation
First and foremost, implementing a green cleaning process requires the involvement of building owners, facility managers, and occupants. As stakeholders in the program, they need to agree on a system that defines their green cleaning values and how that program will be implemented in their facility. Once they have made an agreement, the stakeholders must put it into writing in succinct, easy-to-understand terms. Meanwhile, building leaders should organize a team that includes not only cleaning professionals, but also sustainability managers and supply chain professionals.
Have team members discuss the green cleaning system’s goals and targets, to ensure that everyone is on the same page. Make sure all building occupants are aware of those goals and targets, so they will have buy-in to the success of the initiative.
Reap the health and financial benefits
Focusing on sustainability and the inclusion of a green cleaning program gives you the potential to improve your bottom line. A 2020 study found that corporations that have adapted sustainability strategies are more likely to perform better financially, in spite of the misconception that going green is an expensive endeavor.
Implementing a green system also gives you the potential to improve your brand’s reputation among customers, employees, and recruits. Nearly 80% of Americans in a 2020 report viewed sustainability as an important aspect of operating a business. In fact, roughly 60% claimed they would change their purchasing habits to reduce negative environmental impacts.
In addition, green cleaning is a great way to support employee health and wellbeing. Cleaning with third-party certified products, such as Green Seal-certified products, can improve indoor air quality (IAQ), while minimizing allergy and asthma symptoms. Best practices for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, in tandem with hand hygiene, can reduce virus concentrations by 85.4%.
Reduce plastic waste
In 2021, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced its plan to invest upwards of $14.5 million for research and development on cutting waste and reducing the energy used to recycle single-use plastics, such as plastic bags, wraps, and films. The funding affecting plastic recycling technologies promotes the DOE’s mission to address the challenges associated with plastic waste recycling and further supports the Biden Administration’s efforts to create a clean energy economy, ensuring America reaches net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
According to a report from The New Climate Economy, 95% of plastic packaging—the equivalent of $120 billion annually—is wasted after the first use, and microplastics have been found in 114 aquatic species. Your workplace can make an impact on reducing plastic waste, beginning with encouraging sustainable habits among employees, such as bringing reusable water bottles to the office and saving food in reusable containers. Investing in water coolers for your workplace discourages staff from drinking water out of single-use plastics.
Demand the same commitment to sustainability from your suppliers by asking them if they use certified recyclable packaging. If they don’t, consider alternative suppliers.
Take an audit of your workplace’s communal kitchen to assess the amount of recyclable plastic. Then find a local recycling facility and set up a volunteer schedule among building occupants willing to bring the plastics to be recycled. Get everyone in your workplace involved by placing recycling receptacles in the building and posting signage encouraging its use.
Set environmental goals
It’s impossible to ignore the ways climate change is affecting our lives, from increasingly hot temperatures to more frequent weather events such as hurricanes. Sustainable business practices are no longer optional—they are imperative for business leaders.
Green businesses focus on the best interests of the local and global environment. Environmentally aware businesses measure success beyond profits. They consider their impact on society and the environment as well.
Sustainable businesses adhere to a term called the triple bottom line—three components that cover profits, people, and the planet. Such businesses can earn profits by being socially responsible and protecting the use of the planet’s resources.