This is the second part of a three-part article about green cleaning in schools.

Once a school has developed a baseline and objectives for its green cleaning program, it’s easier to determine exactly what education is needed.

Training must be customized to the particular school and its unique needs, says Sawchuk.

“You need to understand the base they are starting from,” he says. “If they haven’t used any green cleaning products, you need to get them to understand that green cleaning products work as well or better than traditional products, and you need to tell them you need their feedback if a product isn’t working as well for them.”

School custodians often think they’re going to have to work longer and harder if a program goes green. Giving them an opportunity to provide feedback helps overcome resistance and gives them a voice.
Education should also include the reasons why green cleaning is safer for custodians, building occupants and the environment Distributors should provide data that demonstrates and supports these health claims.

“This helps combat the cleaners who say, ‘I’ve been using these products for 20 years, and there’s nothing wrong with me,’” says Sawchuk. “They learn it’s not just safer for the person using it, it’s also safer for building occupants and positively impacts indoor air quality and the environment.”

Data can also be used to prove the effectiveness of training.

“Too often we take custodial training for granted,” says Ashkin. “The reason this is a big challenge is we all think we’re doing it. We put together training programs and put custodians through them, but we fail to do a good job of measuring the outcomes of that training.”

For example, schools might have their distributors train custodians about safety data sheets and the need for greener products, but then they fail to track whether they really use greener or safer products. Or custodians are trained to use better processes to clean classrooms, but schools never check whether that’s been achieved.

“It’s about accountability,” says Ashkin. “Sports teams keep detailed statistics about player performance, because without that they don’t know how they are doing. Custodial operations need to do the same.”

Distributors can help schools develop exacting training programs and effective ways to measure results.

“These programs need to be done in a language custodians understand and must include both classroom and hands-on training,” says Ashkin. “Then there needs to be a system that measures whether the training was effective.”

For example, if a school trains custodians to look at recycling, the school can then measure the amount of recycling to see if it increased or decreased after the training. Custodial supervisors can also employ ATP meters to track whether new cleaning processes work. And if the results show changes are not working, training can be refined.

previous page of this article:
Five Challenges To Green Cleaning In Schools
next page of this article:
Implementing And Improving Green Cleaning Programs For Schools