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See beyond the packaging when it comes to cleaning green.

Without the use of clever cliches that have been used time and time again, I am going to sum up the green movement in three words: "Green is in".

You simply cannot refer to a media outlet such as TV, radio and print publications without being bombarded with the culture of environmentally friendly products.

As a result of this, some products ate being marketed as "green" but in realty they may be no safer for the environment than regular cleaning products.

This is commonly referred to as "greenwashing", the act of misleading consumers regarding environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service.

Labeled in the 1960's by many--including Madison Avenue advertising executive, Jerry Mander, "greenwashing" began at a time in our nation's history when the anti-nuclear movement was coming into its own and it seemed that everyone was jumping on the "green bandwagon".

As being environmentally conscience became popular in the mid-to-late 1960's; green corporate messages and initiatives began to creep into people's homes via the airways.

According to Mander, "In the year 1969 alone, public utilities spent more than $300 million on advertising--more than eight times what they spent on the antipollution research they were publicizing in their ads."

This "greenwash" concept continued well into the 1980's and still goes on today because the definition of "green" and the traits that characterize it are not currently regulated.

So, whether you are a building owner/ manager, or cleaning service provider, it is important to be aware of "greenwashing" and to be educated on the authenticity of such products.

Firstly, all "green" products should be third-party certified to confirm that they have little or no impact on the environment and the health of humans. For example, independent, non profit organizations, such as Green Seal and Environmental Choice are dedicated to protecting the environment and renovating the industry by encouraging the manufacture, purchase and utilization of environmentally responsible products. These organizations use shareholder groups that represent industry, human health and environmental concerns with the intent to develop "green" standards. You will know if a product is third-party certified via the mark of the organization on the product label.

First Quality Maintenance (FQM), the janitorial division of Alliance Building Services, has implemented high performance cleaning programs using Green Seal Certified products and low environmental impact microfiber cleaning tools. In addition, FQM seeks to use environmentally preferable Green Seal Certified cleaning chemicals through dilution control systems that reduce the number and quantity of chemicals required to administer effective cleaning. These dilution control systems lessen environmental impacts by reducing packaging materials, disposal and transportation costs.

The federal government has defined "green or environmentally preferable" cleaning supplies as products and services that "have a lesser reduced effect on human health and the environment when compared with competing products or services that serve the same purpose." Environmentally preferable cleaning works in two ways. By relying on cleaning chemicals that do not contain many of the highly toxic constituents that are common in cleaning products and by employing advanced technology which are more effective at gathering dirt and soil. High performance equipment such as HEPPA filtration vacuum cleaners, microfiber mops and cloths, multilevel walk-off mats and two-chamber mop buckets are just a few examples of the proper green equipment to utilize.

They are specifically designed to prevent dirt and soil from contaminating surfaces and decreasing the amount of cleaning chemicals used. Therefore, by using safer cleaning chemicals and modern equipment, "green" cleaning decreases the release of harmful substances into the environment.

Other helpful tools and resources to help in determining whether a product is environmentally friendly include:

The packaging of a product is an identifying factor to whether or not a paper product is "green". The product should be packaged according to size to eliminate excess waste.

According to Green Seal Standards, products such as tissues are not considered "green" if they are bleached with chlorine or any of its derivates.

Using the latest technology in "environmentally preferable" products requires changes in cleaning regimes. Therefore, the Green Seal certification process requires companies to provide training in the use of new chemicals. This training should be requested from your vendor or building service contractor.

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Comment:See beyond the packaging when it comes to cleaning green.
Author:Green, Gary
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Jul 9, 2008
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