Sustainable Cleaning Products Explained

Cleaning Products and Landfills

Are you confused at claims made for cleaning products?  Some cleaning products claim to be Green.  Others claim to be organic, natural, or eco-friendly.  Then, there are some that claim to be sustainable cleaning products.  Sadly, most advertisers do not care or respect the proper meaning of sustainability, orgnic, natural, or Green.  So, for those who are acting as the purchasing agent for a cleaning service, here is a mini-review of the proper use of words used to describe Green or Sustainable cleaning products.

After more than a decade of misguided promotion, we have settled on the best definition of Green as meaning "Health".  So, Green products or service should improve the environment that benefits the health of people, building, communities, air quality, and waterways.  Many chemical cleaning products produce troublesome VOCs and leave chemical residue in the building, waterways, and community.  But, the concept of Green is not the same as Sustainable.  These ideas are related by different in true meaning.

Sustainable Cleaning ProductsSustainable is primarily about the depletion of resources (understood as consumption), including the pressure on landfills (understood as waste).  So, if the product requires the consumption of resources, or unecessiarly fills our landfills with waste; there is a predictable point where consumption can overrun our ability to supply or dispose of these consumable products.  So, you might expect that sustainable product reduces that demand on non-renewable resources and lessens the volume of trash sent to land fills.  Many environmentally-hyped products ignore many of the sustainable issues that have value the future of the community and our lives.

Oil is the source of many cleaning chemicals, and oil is used to make plastic bottles or containers.  Oil is not considered a replenishable resource.  So, petroleum is the most obvious concern for whether a product is sustainable.  But, even paper products are a sustainable issue.  Paper waste is the largest commodity in our land fills.  

Plastic bottles are the long-ignored issue in our society, and the cleaning services are a big part of this issue.  Unlike the problem with paper, plastic bottles take hundreds of years to decompose if they are not recycled.  And the sustainable issue is why recylcing of paper and plastic is huge.

Transportation of a product is another resource demand as transportation requires gas or diesel fuel.  This add to pollution as well.  So, the better option is concentrates that are not 90% water adding to the weight and volume of the shipments.  One way to reduce plastic bottle waste is concentrated products and mixing stations.  

On another level, is the product Green, meaning healthy.  Well, if it also emits VOCS and leaves chemical residue behind, and pollutes the waterways; it isn't Green.  Green and sustainable are two related, but different, measures of the problems or virtues of a product.  Both matter, but they are not the same concept.

The Green Clean Institute evaluates products for the health and sustainable values.