Why Green Cleaning

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Green cleaning protects student, teacher and staff health, while ensuring that buildings are maintained in an efficient and cost-effective way.

Many traditional cleaning products contain chemicals that can contribute to poor indoor air quality, trigger asthma and other respiratory illnesses, and contribute to long-term health problems such as cancer, reproductive disorders, major organ damage, and permanent eye damage. Green cleaning reduces these health risks and can also be a strategy to boost attendance and productivity at school.

A well-designed green cleaning program can:​

  • Help students stay healthy and learn: Green cleaning reduces the environmental hazards that can negatively affect children's health and development
  • Protect custodial staff: Custodial staff members, especially women of child-bearing age, are particularly susceptible to health problems
  • Increase facility and furniture lifespan: Proper maintenance and effective cleaning without caustic chemicals prevents damage and premature aging
  • Preserve the environment: Green cleaning preserves natural resources and reduces the amount of harmful chemicals washed into lakes and streams
  • Save money: School leaders often report short and long-term savings as they switch to green cleaning and reduce the number of cleaning products

Watch our recent State of Green Cleaning webinar, designed for both building/venue operators, as well as manufacturers and suppliers of Green Cleaning products and services.

Quick + Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools

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The Quick + Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools is HSC's multi-media guide to help schools go green.

This resource includes five comprehensive steps to developing a green cleaning program, plus practical tips and a product directory. The newest edition includes new sections on food service, integrated pest management, new technology and more.

Access the free guide online or order your free copy by mail.

Green Cleaning in Action

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Bill Thompson knew something had to change. The custodians at Lockport Township High School were feeling sick when they stripped the wax off a tile floor.

“It was just really horrible,” he said. “They were pouring really corrosive cleaners all over the floor. The windows were open, but they were still getting dizzy and fainting.”

The school’s cleaning products, though effective, were toxic. “Who knows what it was doing to them, being exposed to these products day in and day out during their entire careers?” Thompson said.

“It finally occurred to me that the decisions I make concerning what cleaning products I purchase might negatively affect the custodians—along with the 4,000 students who go through my school’s doors every day. Having small children myself, I decided it was my duty at least to investigate and see if there was a better way.”

Thompson attended a green cleaning seminar and consulted HSC’s Quick + Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools.

He began substituting a few environmentally preferable products, then looked at chemical-free methods he and his staff could use to minimize the dust and germs in the school. For example, they installed mats to trap dirt at the entrances.

Since implementing a full green cleaning program, the school has seen a noticeable drop in student absenteeism. Thompson has seen savings in his cleaning budget.

“It’s a process,” he explained. “If you try to do a little bit every year, you can really make a difference. Start with one or two products—it’s that simple."

Changing State Policy

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States across the U.S. are adopting common-sense green cleaning laws to promote healthy school environments.

In 2007, HSC led a coalition that successfully advocated for a policy requiring green cleaning in Illinois schools. The state was the second in the nation (after New York) to adopt a green clean schools policy. Now, more than 10 states have laws promoting or requiring green cleaning in schools.

HSC provides ongoing strategy support, technical assistance and an official statement of principles to state advocates who speak up for green cleaning policies. The principles were developed in collaboration with nonprofit advocates and industry representatives.

To learn more about these principles or about support for green clean schools efforts in your state, please contact Mark Bishop.

Green Team Sponsors

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The Quick + Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools has been made possible through the generous support of these companies, who are industry leaders in the manufacture and distribution of green cleaning products and services. To learn how your organization can get involved as a sponsor, visit our sponsorship page or contact Sara Porter.

Green Team Partners

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The following organizations represent the nation’s school administrators, school boards, teachers, school nurses, parents and many others. They support green cleaning in schools by promoting The Quick + Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools to their members and making it available at conferences and trainings. To learn how your organization can work with HSC to promote green cleaning in schools, contact Sara Porter.

American Association of School Administrators
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American School & University
Association of School Business Officials International
Children’s Environmental Health Network
Coalition for Community Schools
Council of Educational Facility Planners International
International Brotherhood of Teamsters–Public Services Division
International Executive Housekeepers Association
ISSA, The Experts on Cleaning and Maintenance
National Association of Charter School Authorizers
National Association of Elementary School Principals

National Association of School Nurses
National Clearinghouse for Educational Facilities
National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education
National Association of State Boards of Education
National Education Association Health Information Network
National Parent Teacher Association
National School Plant Management Association
Parents for Public Schools
Public Education Network
School Nutrition Association
Service Employees International Union
U.S. Green Building Council

Green Cleaning Communications

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Connect with us and our green cleaning communications and learn successful green cleaning practices from past green cleaning award winners, a network of fellow educators, facilities managers and industry experts. Subscribe to our quarterly newsletter and read our green cleaning blog posts

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