This is the final part of a three-part article about sustainability in schools.

A green cleaning program requires continuous improvement.

“Going green is not a destination, because you’ll never arrive,” says Sawchuk. “Green cleaning is a journey.”
Schools must constantly update their products. But not all products must be changed at once.

“If a school has no green cleaning products, then the distributor needs to determine which ones are the harshest and help them determine how quickly they can change them out,” says Sawchuk. “You can say ‘OK, we have this nasty spray-and-wipe cleaner, when you run out of that, we’re going to replace it with this other one.’”

Start with the low-hanging fruit, whether that’s moving from ready-to-use chemicals to concentrates, incorporating dilution control systems, replacing multi-fold towels with large rolls or adding new equipment. Then take it a step further and check if products are green certified. Remember to also look at recycling programs. Is this school recycling batteries and electronics in a responsible and sustainable way? Do they have a composting program to deal with food waste?
Some schools might think cost will be a large barrier, but Sawchuk doesn’t believe this to be the case.

“I really believe that going green isn’t going to cost a whole lot of money,” says Sawchuk. “Done right, it can actually be a net savings for the school.”

Distributors can demonstrate this savings by doing their homework.

“The better prepared you are, the more facts you have, the harder it is for someone to dispute it,” says Sawchuk.

Green cleaning operations need to be able to demonstrate that they know their cleaning objectives, how they workloaded the building, and what people, chemicals and equipment are needed. Distributors can come into the school and demonstrate products to show how they work and why they are greener. They can also provide information on why green cleaning is healthier for staff members, students and the environment. Distributors can also calculate cost comparisons and develop an implementation plan that is easiest on the budget.

“This helps [the school custodial department] show that they’ve put together a thoughtful program that can be taken before a school board and talked about professionally,” says Ashkin. “Just being able to make a professional presentation with solid data greatly increases the opportunity for them to be supported.”

The journey to green cleaning should be one of continuous improvement, but by following these simple rules, distributors can ensure that the challenges of today are not the challenges of tomorrow.

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

previous page of this article:
Sanitary Supply Distributors Can Educate Schools On Sustainability