Sustainability was once a “nice-to-have”, but it is increasingly considered a must-have for businesses regardless of industry. Given the volume of chemicals, water and energy that facilities use to maintain clean environments, it makes sense to seek out sustainable cleaning solutions and tools that will limit negative environmental impact. Understanding sustainability requires clarity regarding several myths that have emerged about how to define the concept. Debunking these myths and implementing products that are truly sustainable is a win-win for the planet and your operation.

Sustainable Cleaning Myths

Consider the following myths and the truth behind each:

1. Sustainable cleaning products aren’t as effective.

Just because they are designed to limit environmental impact does not mean that sustainable cleaning products are any less effective than their conventional counterparts. For example, sustainable cleaning chemicals can thoroughly remove surface soils and inactivate viruses without leaving residues behind. Sustainable mops can effectively absorb liquids while remaining durable. Do not assume that sustainable design sacrifices performance.

2. Operating a sustainable cleaning program is more expensive.

We often think that sustainable solutions that deliver resource savings come at a higher cost. While it’s true that some sustainable tools, chemicals and equipment may require a higher upfront investment, the long-term savings can offset the initial price point. Plus, with an increasing number of truly sustainable cleaning solutions on the market, manufacturers are continually finding ways to innovate and keep costs in line. Doing so will encourage building service contractors (BSCs) and in-house cleaning teams to opt for more environmentally friendly solutions whenever possible.

3. Sustainable chemicals should be the main focus.

While using non-toxic, non-irritating and effective chemicals is certainly a priority, it is important to view sustainability with a wider lens. The tools and equipment used on a daily basis should also be sustainable. For example, as facilities increase the frequency and thoroughness of cleaning during the pandemic, they will require more supplies.

4. Green = sustainable.

It’s a common misconception that products being marketed as “green” are in fact sustainable. Many use buzzwords like organic, all-natural and certified green, irrelevant claims or even misleading imagery to appear sustainable, a process called greenwashing. Be cautious when vetting cleaning products so you can determine which are actually responsibly sourced and will lead to resource savings in your operation. Consult Green Seal to see if the manufacturer has products certified by this trustworthy organization.

5. My customers don’t really care about sustainability.

It’s true that BSCs often compete on price, and that in-house cleaning teams are increasingly asked to do more with less. While cost is an important consideration for a cleaning program, so is sustainability, as many of today’s consumers value brands that support the environment. In fact, a study published in 2020 reveals that nearly 70% of consumers in the U.S. and Canada think it is important that a brand is sustainable or eco-friendly. Showcase your commitment to sustainability through your cleaning program and be transparent in communicating the environmental impact of your production processes, your labor practices and how you give back to your community.

Sustainability is Here to Stay

Sustainability is not a passing trend. It is an integrated way of doing business that is increasingly important given the growing concerns around climate change and rising populations faced with limited resources. By understanding the above myths in greater detail, you can develop a cleaning program that is comprised of chemicals, tools and equipment that are responsibly sourced and help your operation realize resource savings. Not only will these resource savings drive cost savings, they will allow your organization to contribute to positive progress for the planet. Sustainable cleaning products support your organization’s commitment to environmental responsibility.

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