“Being green” can be achieved through a holistic approach towards sustainability. Such an approach requires looking at all aspects of your business in terms of sustainability, including cleaning, and incorporating it into your company culture so it defines your organization and is communicated to your customers.
Approach Sustainability Holistically
Sustainability is not just about obtaining green certificates. Rather, it’s about everything you and your staff do. Whether volunteering in your community by doing beach cleanup, encouraging employees to recycle, using eco-friendly packaging or using multipurpose cleaning products to do more with less, it can all make a valuable contribution to your company’s sustainability efforts.
Businesses no longer have to make a choice between their needs for performance, value and responsibility to the planet. Sustainability is about ensuring a better quality of life for everyone, now and for generations to come. That’s why it is important to try and make improvements in every aspect of your business, including cleaning.
"Green cleaning" is the process of getting rid of certain pathogens with products and techniques that do the job as well as traditional products and approaches, AND have reduced environmental impacts in comparison. When cleaning professionals strive to get rid of soil and germs, it also reduces the possible transmission of bacteria and viruses that can cause infectious diseases. At the same time, this will also impact the aesthetics of the facility.
Following are tips to make any cleaning routine more sustainable:
- Choose the right products. Utilize cleaning products that are either compacted and/or concentrated, therefore using less packaging and less product, which will also reduce transportation costs with less trucks on the road transporting products for sale. Additionally, use innovative formulas, such as multipurpose products, that clean and disinfect in just one step. Products that get the job done right the first time can help reduce the amount of product needed and cut back on the number of products used. In fact, source reduction is usually the most cost-effective approach to sustainable cleaning.
- Clearly define tasks. Define which tasks cleaning products will be used for within the building. Spend wisely on products that will meet your required performance. When a product does not clean properly, you may end up using more of it. That adds up to more packaging for the waste stream and often more labor as people compensate with elbow grease.
- Train cleaning staff properly. Achieving employee buy-in is important as labor accounts for up to 85 percent of operational costs. Housekeeping staff need to be taught to clean efficiently by using the right amount of product to get the job done, not less (which could create rework) and not more (which wastes). Effective and continued education of staff on how to clean sustainably is a must. Even the most sustainable cleaning products, if used incorrectly, will not have the required impact.
Make sure your staff members are aware of all guidelines in the safe handling, use and recycling of products and packaging. If staff learn proper processes and minimize the amount of product used, it can improve your environmental footprint, contribute to cost savings and facilitate a number of supply chain benefits.
- Measure of green. If it isn’t clean, it isn’t green. We clean areas and surfaces for one main reason: to reduce the risk of human exposure to potentially harmful substances. If a product does not do the job of getting rid of dirt, grime, soil, etc., then no matter what green aspects the product claims to have, it’s not driving overall sustainability. Current findings show that the way a product is used is often more important than production methods in determining environmental and social impacts.
Implementing these steps will really aid your facility’s sustainability efforts. But remember, sustainability should be intrinsically interlinked into everything you do as a business, including your marketing efforts so that your staff and customers are fully aware of your commitments.
Operating sustainably but keeping it a secret just won’t reap rewards. Shout as much as possible about the good work your business is doing, such as using products with a “Green Guarantee.” Also don’t forget to make the most of social media and your website to communicate with employees and customers about the good work being done sustainably throughout the building.
Last but not least, remember that sustainability does not have to mean extra cost. In fact, operating sustainably can save operators money and drive up income.
About Kelly Anchrum
Kelly Anchrum is the Associate Director for Communications and Sustainability for P&G Professional. She has more than 25 years of communications experience inside and outside P&G in North America, Europe and Asia. This includes leading sustainability initiatives on some of P&G’s biggest brands. P&G Professional® is the away-from-home division of Procter & Gamble, serving the foodservice, building cleaning and maintenance, hospitality and convenience stores industries. P&G Professional offers complete solutions utilizing its parent company's scale, trusted brands and strengths in market and consumer understanding.