Sustainable commercial cleaning is experiencing a change driven by consumers' demand for more social responsibility, safe products and a commitment to sustainability. This is being supported by a more modern, youthful, and conscientious generation of consumers. The most successful commercial cleaning solutions are offering exceptional, consistent service and meeting these new green expectations. With COVID-19 amplifying the need for flawless cleaning processes and systems, the issue of hygiene and cleanliness remains high on the agenda. Protocols that were developed and established early in the pandemic and have played a valuable part in reducing transmission, always bringing the importance of professional and thorough cleaning practices.
THE SUSTAINABLE CLEANING TREND
The trends toward sustainability have been by the most valued resource small businesses and professional associations in the cleaning industry. The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association says, “green cleaning is arguably the No. 1 trend in the cleaning industry and is showing no signs of slowing down”. They describe green cleaning as “a marketplace phenomenon that is being driven by customer demand and the overall trending of the broad marketplace for environmentally preferable products and services.” We’ve seen consumers and household users face something of a dilemma during the pandemic in terms of hygiene versus the environment. Many people have changed their habits towards safety first and foremost, such as the usage of tougher cleaning products or using disposable kitchen rolls for cleaning around the home instead of reusable cleaning tools. However, post-pandemic – we expect the environment to come back into consumer thinking at an even greater level than before and that will promote even more growth for specialist green brands. What can cleaning-products brands do to prepare for this, and how can they motivate consumers to get involved with green cleaning?
ELIMINATING ALL HARMFUL CHEMICALS
For a small commercial cleaning business, it can be difficult to think of how to get started with sustainability. The number one area in which sustainable commercial cleaning companies are changing is in chemicals. Not many know that many commercial cleaning solvents are largely derived from petroleum. Classified as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, their disposal can create big problems for both our environment and our health. They also reduce our ozone, pollute our groundwater and damage our respiratory systems. For an industry which employs over 3 million people, sustained exposure to these chemicals can cause lasting health problems. Chemicals, whether of natural origin or produced by human activities, are part of our environment.
- A. Naturally occurring chemicals include, for instance, arsenic and fluoride in drinking water, suspended particulate matter and sulfur dioxide from volcanic emission or forest fires, or naturally occurring toxins;
- B. Manufactured chemicals include industrial and agricultural products such as pesticides, petroleum products, processed metals, and products of combustion such as toxic gases and particles from industrial emissions and burning of fuel. Some chemicals are manufactured for specific uses in the products of common life, while others are unwanted by-products, wastes, or products of combustion.
NEW SUSTAINABLE WAYS TO CONSERVE WATER
In addition to saving money on your utility bill, water conservation helps prevent water pollution in nearby lakes, rivers, and local watersheds. Preserving water also prevents greenhouse gas emissions associated with treating and distributing water. Conserving water can also extend the life of your septic system by reducing soil overload and reducing pollution due to leaks. Overloading public sewer systems can also cause untreated sewage to flow to lakes and rivers. The smaller the amount of water flowing through these systems, the lower the possibility of pollution. Commercial cleaning is also a water-intensive industry, and as such, water waste constitutes a large proportion of their environmental impact. The methods used to approach these problems vary from new investments in technologies, to more subtle changes in business culture and habits.
GREEN CLEANING IS GOOD BUSINESS
Cleaning businesses making these eco-friendly changes are showing their commitment to social responsibility, as well as their business expertise. The transition to sustainability in cleaning should make owners proud to be doing their part in taking care of our environment, and with the tools available today, it has never been easier. The bottom line is that everyone wins over owners, employees, customers and the environment. You would be wonder at how many times you walked into the offices of companies that are working hard to be sustainable – they’re innovative in everything from their business model to energy efficiency – yet when we look at their cleaning products, we find that they’re still using toxic, mainstream products. Though often overlooked, the cleaning products that are used at your business are affecting the health of your employees, the cleaning staff, and visitors to your office. The chemicals found in common cleaning products can have many negative impacts, including contributing to asthma, cancer, and increased birth defects, according to the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) Cleaning Supplies and Your Health