Green Cleaning Awards: More than Cleaning Products

January 07, 2008

by Claris Olson, HSC Environmental Health Specialist

One of the most exciting things we did in 2007 in the world of green cleaning was working with American School & University magazine and the Green Cleaning Network to launch the first Green Cleaning Awards programs.  (OK, that was in addition to getting the Green Cleaning in Schools Act passed in Illinois, having great speaking opportunities around the country, and having a fantastic time at the ISSA/Interclean Trade Show, among other things. It’s been a busy year!)  The winners are announced in a special supplement [pdf] of American School & University.

I was thrilled to be able to bring some recognition to the hardworking folks who are truly dedicated to a healthy, sustainable approach to cleaning for health that does not harm the environment. 

So many schools are doing such great work that it was really difficult to choose the best.

One thing that was clear in the applications — and what we emphasize in The Quick and Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools — is that green cleaning is about more than just using environmentally preferable cleaning chemicals.  This was evident with each of our award winners who incorporated the Quick and Easy Guide’s “Five Simple Steps to a Healthy School Environment” in their green cleaning programs. Remember that “Switching to Green Cleaning Products” is just Step One.

So, here is a test question:   
What exactly are the other four steps to green cleaning in schools?  Maybe you can tell by what made these K-12 Award winners stand out:

At Mayfield County School District in Ohio, the district is using vacuums certified by Green Label and has furnished the schools with high quality floor mats.  They also use Green Seal certified paper products.  I was really impressed with the training program for their custodial staff.  The staff attend a two-day training program accredited through their local community college.  The vendor provides a follow-up one-day in-service training that covers the importance of green cleaning and its impact on the districts’ staff, students and buildings.

At Hernando County Schools in Florida, the district also uses Green Label certified vacuums as well as color-coded microfiber cloths dedicated to specific areas. Hands down what won me over with this first place award winner was their constant evaluation and feedback program.  They have systems in place for daily and weekly feedback from teachers and the administrator, and even have self-assessments for the custodial staff. The maintenance/custodial supervisor conducts inspections at the school through out the day and evening and provides reports to the head custodian, principal and executive director of maintenance.  The reports allow everyone to see the achievements as well as areas for improvement. 

So, did you figure out all “Five Simple Steps”? Click here to find out if you got them all!

Plus: If you don’t have The Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools yet, click here to order your free copy!