Sustainable Cleaning Is A Shared Responsibility

The benefits of implementing a green cleaning program in a school are numerous. A well-designed green cleaning program will help students stay healthy and learn, protect the health of custodial staff, increase the lifespan of facilities, preserve the environment and save money.

But the responsibility for the success of a green cleaning program does not lie solely upon the shoulders of the custodial staff. Everyone plays a role in maintaining a healthy environment — students, teachers, administrators. Green cleaning programs in schools promote stewardship and demonstrate a school’s commitment to thinking globally and acting locally.

The idea of sharing responsibility for building cleanliness can be challenging for many schools, but it can also make the cleaning program more successful. The goal is to promote environmental stewardship across the school community so that each stakeholder group — administrators, staff, teachers, students and visitors — takes personal responsibility for both the school environment and the global environment. Facility cleaning executives within schools can promote stewardship simply by sharing their success stories with the community.

Everyone Has A Voice — And A Responsibility

Since many facility cleaning professionals most likely already have an established green cleaning team, they know that everyone has a voice. However, everyone also has a responsibility to make sure the green cleaning program succeeds. Facility cleaning managers will need all stakeholders to play a role, if they are to have a successful program, and those roles must go beyond the custodial staff and facility operators.

Teachers, for example, play an important role in promoting and maintaining a clean and healthy classroom. One of the most important steps teachers can take is to encourage and provide opportunities for frequent and effective handwashing.

Teachers can also help create a healthy school environment by minimizing clutter within their classrooms. This assures that the space can be cleaned thoroughly and efficiently. Teachers can also help by working with custodians in obtaining green cleaning products, assisting with sanitizing between classes on high touch points, and avoiding the use of cleaning products that are not part of the proscribed cleaning program.

Students, on the other hand, are the primary customers of the school and should understand how they can maintain an environmentally friendly and healthy building for themselves, their teachers and other school staff. They can support a green cleaning program by picking up after themselves, practicing good hygiene, stacking chairs on desks and picking up papers to make it easier for custodians to clean.

Parents can bring external perspective to the green cleaning team at their school. They can assist in community efforts and supporting efforts to reduce cleaning products that are being brought in from outside of school. This not only helps avoid miscommunication, but it also attracts additional resources and expertise.

Finally, school nurses can be helpful in monitoring and recognizing trends in reported illnesses. This monitoring may warn of environmental problems. Also, the school nurse can be an important advocate to teach people about proper hand hygiene and the relationship between green cleaning and better student health and performance.

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Communicating Green Cleaning Initiatives