One area that I always try to address when I speak to businesses and companies about becoming more environmentally friendly centers around cleaning products. I always try to work that into any presentation as I’ve always felt it was a relatively simple change that can make a big difference in the environment.
Most over the counter cleaners are petroleum based, which an be both harmful to people and the environment. While most cleaners of that nature aren’t introduced to the environment directly, they inevitably end up there indirectly. Typically, here’s how the process works:
- You clean your office or home with a non-organic cleaner using with a sponge, cloth or paper towels to wipe or remove the cleaner from a surface.
- That sponge, material, paper towel, etc. is now contaminated to it’s thrown away into the trash.
- The trash is removed to the local trash facility, and ultimately ends up in a landfill.
- While the material that the cleaner is on might be biodegradable, the chemical isn’t, so it eventually leeches into the ground
- Once in the ground, it contaminates the soil and ground water, which then potentially carries the contaminant to plants and trees.
Again, it’s not a direct path, but the long term impact is certainly not good.
Here are some interesting statistics about cleaning products from an article posted on www.treehugger.com:
- The average cleaning person uses an average of 23 gallons of cleaning chemicals (that’s 87 liters) annually, 25 percent of which are hazardous per the EPA.
- The average commercial cleaning company uses approximately 5 billion pounds of chemicals each year. Most of which are washed down the drain into a sewage or waste system.
- The EPA has also reported that there are just over 17,000 different petrochemicals used in home cleaning products. Only 30 percent of those chemicals have undergone extensive EPA testing to human health and the environment.
- The average US home contains 63 different chemical cleaning products at any given time. Those 63 chemicals equal to nearly 10 gallons of chemicals.
Given the lack of testing and long-term implications of petroleum based cleaning products, it makes sense to switch to a safer, more eco-friendly alternative.
If you or your company outsource the cleaning, give some thought to switching to a 100% eco-friendly cleaning company. Be careful about using companies that market themselves as eco-friendly and ask to see a list of cleaning products that are being used.
If you are handling the cleaning duties at your home or residence, I’d suggest switching to an environmentally friendly cleaner like Simple Green. I know there’s been some recent information in the media about certain chemicals being used in the green cleaning industry known as “greenwashing”, but I’ve read all the information that Simple Green has published and feel that their cleaning products are still one of the best eco-friendly options on the market today. If you don’t really care for Simple Green, there are plenty of other highly regarded environmentally friendly cleaners on the market.