I Decided to Go Green.. Now What?
A How-to Guide for Cleaning Companies
Why Now? The Going Green-Shift in the 21st Century
“Going Green” is a societal movement that is continuously evolving to make its presence in a wide variety of industries; the cleaning industry is among the prevalent ones. A big leader in this industry shift is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, which now requires the use of cleaning products that are environmentally friendly. In a recent report, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared that there are more than 17,000 petrochemicals, a hazardous ingredient derived from crude oil and natural gas, used in home and commercial cleaning products. What is more dangerous, that only about 30 of the 17,000 have gone through serious EPA testing. The result-it is impossible to know for sure the long term negative effects these chemicals will have on its users and the environment. If you are ready to get on board with the green movement, here are some easy steps to help get you started.
Where do I Start?
First Steps: New Technologies + Creating a Paperless Office
Green cleaning technologies are commonly thought of in the raw forms of hybrid cars and organic household cleaning products. However, there are other ways one can improve their energy and workplace efficiency, simply by getting their businesses on board. From large corporate companies, to small mobile start-ups, a paperless work environment offers many benefits to both its employees and the environment. Picture an office desk without the overwhelming Post-it notes and bulletin papers, pulling your mind in different directions as you decide where to even begin. Thanks to a few innovative technological leaders (like us!), you now can have all of these notes stored, prioritized and backed up on one central location before you can even say “office meltdown”. Scheduling, dispatching, invoicing, payment processing, and route optimization are just a few of the many daily business practices that can all be executed from one simple application with easy accessibility. By using electronic hard drives and clouds to store important documentations, and emailing instead of faxing or printing, companies can reduce the amount of paper waste they are producing. With educated consumers, there is no limit to the possibilities and benefits of the ever changing technologies that will help companies run and sustain their business with optimum productivity and efficiency.
According to a case study by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, each office employee goes through close to 10,000 sheets of paper per year. One Minnesota-based non-profit organization decided to take things a step farther and increase the productivity of their marketing department’s efforts without also increasing cost. By simply putting more effort into enhancing their website, the office found they reduced paper waste by 22%, saving them hundreds of dollars in paper communications, forms, marketing materials and copying costs. Not to mention the improved customer perception, as the organization can now consider themselves environmentally friendly.
Step 2: Analyze your products more carefully
Become familiar with some of the toxic, hazardous chemicals found in many cleaning products. By educating yourself, these ingredients will soon be easy to avoid when its time to re-stock the supply closet. Look for products that list all of its ingredients-products made with probiotic bacteria and enzymes are typically a good sign, as opposed to those from crude oil derived chemicals.
Many commercial cleaning services are joining the environmental movement, and advertise that the products they use are “all-natural” or “organic”. However, do not let those claims next to the botanical picture on their business card fool you- those recognizable terms do not always mean their materials do not still contain harmful petrochemicals. Look for the cleaning services that will give you a list of their products’ ingredients to ensure that they use plant-based surface reactants instead.
Step 3: Expand your recycling habits beyond paper and plastic
Upgrading some of your office technology? Instead of hauling the old printers, fax machines and computer monitors down to the office building’s dumpster, consider donating the ones that can still function and recycling the ones that can not.
Step 4: Shut down what is not in use
Even while computers, laptops, tablets and printers are in “sleep mode”, they are still contributing to about 5% of energy use while idle. Instead of worrying yourself whether or not you have turned these devices off to save energy, leave your mind at peace with a “smart” surge protector that turns off specified outlets when a machine becomes idle.
Do not leave the “Go Green” movement just to the activists
Use your company’s influence to change the way businesses practice green cleaning and energy efficiency. Now is the time to start, with the constantly developing government regulations on chemical products. A healthier environment makes for healthier employees, which is the best way to maintain a productive workplace. With the emphasis the media places on environmentally friendly practices, consumers will be drawn to the companies that share the same values. By educating yourself on the endless “green” possibilities for your specific needs, your business will undoubtedly flourish.