10 ways the cleaning industry can fight climate change

The threat posed by climate change keeps growing, as do the warnings of its dire consequences, but what can the cleaning industry do?
Monday, August 30, 2021

The threat being posed by climate change just grows and grows, as do the warnings of the dire consequences it holds.

According to the August 2021 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, scientists have observed significant recent changes in the Earth’s climate in every region of the world. The report also indicated that many of these changes are happening far faster than anyone thought.

But what can the professional cleaning industry do about it?

“Here in the U.S., we see the ramifications of climate change from coast to coast,” says green cleaning expert and sustainability advocate Steve Ashkin of The Ashkin Group, an internationally recognized consulting firm working to help make the professional cleaning industry greener. “The recent rainstorms in Tennessee have been attributed to climate change, as have the fires and drought in the western half of the country.”

Not taking sufficient action can have the potential for catastrophic consequences.

So, what does Ashkin recommend?

  1. Use only green-certified cleaning solutions as these protect natural resources, release fewer or no ozone-depleting volatile organic compounds (VOCs), and generate less waste.
  2. Use disinfectants sparingly and only as needed to help reduce the number of VOCs entering the atmosphere.
  3. Consider using disinfectant alternatives such as hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Purchase cleaning solutions in concentrated, bulk sizes, stored in recyclable containers, with minimal packaging. “This reduces shipping and packaging needs, protects natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and costs,” explains Ashkin.
  5. Purchase paper products made from 100 per cent recycled materials. This reduces millions of tons of CO2 emissions.
  6. Increase the use of cleaning equipment using engineered water. These systems use tap water that is activated, ozonated, electrolyzed, or treated, turning it into an effective cleaning method without chemicals.
  7. Buy from green- and sustainability-focused distributors. “I am always impressed [with] how many distributors have become specialists when it comes to green cleaning and protecting the environment,” says Ashkin.
  8. Replace auto fleets with electric or hybrid vehicles.
  9. Keep learning. “With training and education, our ‘frontline’ custodial workers can have a major impact on reducing cleanings impact on our environment,” adds Ashkin.
  10. Remember this famous quote incorrectly attributed to Winston Churchill: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity. An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

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