Promoting Green Cleaning In Schools

Building a case for green cleaning in our nation’s schools and universities

Those of us in the cleaning business know that the single most important factor in protecting public health is the way a building is cleaned. Perhaps nowhere is this more imperative than in schools and universities, where young people spend the majority of their waking time.

As guardians of public health, we have an obligation to protect students when they enter our doors, but more than that, we have the obligation to lead by example. That’s where green cleaning comes in.

Green cleaning programs implement processes, products and equipment that protect human health and the environment. And a truly healthy school teaches students to value their own health, as well as the health of the environment. 

A Little Background

Each school day, more than 60 million students and staff attend our nation’s schools, representing 20 percent of the American population. Unfortunately, half of them are being exposed to polluted indoor air, including lead, asbestos, chemical fumes, pesticides, molds and other toxins within those schools. A green cleaning program can help reduce these harmful exposures. From mitigating carbon emissions to boosting test scores, green cleaning comes with a long list of benefits.

When building occupants are younger than 20, the stakes are even higher. Kids are not miniature adults; their bodies are still developing. They inhale more air than adults on a pound-for-pound ration, for example. Their behaviors, such as sitting on the floor or putting their hands in their mouths, also often put them at a greater risk of exposure to toxins.

The good news is that green cleaning is fairly simple. The three basic premises are:

• To reduce the use of harmful chemicals, replacing them with chemicals that have been certified by a respected third party, when necessary.

• Invest in equipment and technologies that increase efficacy and efficiency.

• Adopt training and procedures that reduce general health risks, accommodate highly susceptible individuals and reduce environmental impact.

The best green cleaning programs in schools and universities that I’ve come to know through my work on the Green Clean Schools Leadership Council also provide a culture of staff and community engagement, promoting stewardship and health at every opportunity.

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Soliciting Green Cleaning Buy-In