While considering which cleaning product to go with, or which commercial janitorial service in Orange County to go with, you’ll certainly see the words “green” and “sustainable” sprinkled over the different choices. There might be a number of perspectives to use when assessing just what these words mean in the situation you see them; for those who are already using “green” products, it’s helpful to look at sustainability as the next step in having an environmentally conscious cleaning program.
New and Shifting definitions
A first important step: what exactly is sustainability? The definition itself is shifting in focus, to a degree. On a base level, it’s been defined as the use of natural resources in such a way that future generations will still have access to the resources being used. As thought continues in the area, the concept of sustainability has been applied to business practices—ensuring that profits result from responsible leadership; the role an organization plays in the community; how staff are treated; and generally applying long-term strategies to an organization can all be sustainability questions.
Sustainability is on the rise—but importantly, it’s becoming easier to think sustainably, too. Today, 25% of S&P 500 firms include environmental and sustainability issues in their SEC filings—just three years ago, only 5% did, a testament to how central the sustainability question is becoming.
It’s not just the product anymore
Green initiatives on the product level are certainly not new; greener “alternatives” for cleaning products and practices can be traced back to the 70s. Sustainability initiatives, however we define them, are still relatively new.
Now, it’s not just the ingredients to the products that are important to consider. Vendors have progressed to the point that they can offer a variety of more sustainable solutions:
- Larger 5-gallon sizes for more sustainable packaging
- Highly concentrated solutions, which reduce transport cost, and reduces packaging
- Cleaning product distributors may be skilled at working with purchasers to “Consolidate” their purchases, meaning eliminating redundant cleaning products, and purchasing products that can work on multiple surfaces, thereby increasing efficiency along with sustainability.
Through these—and no doubt further progressive innovations to come, a solid sustainability process comes into being.
It’s a process
The janitorial services who pursue sustainability have their work cut out for them. It’s not a one-time transition, like flicking on the kitchen light; rather the transition to a truly sustainable operation is more like choosing a direction to go in. Services that implement a sustainability program will need to put effort into promoting and monitoring the program’s evolution, revising it when necessary to ensure than it keep pace with the market’s transitions, and stay focused on its goals.
As the definition of sustainability continues to adapt to match the increasing awareness and increasing demands that the cleaning industry faces, cleaning professionals face a challenging environment. Ultimately, however, businesses and commercial janitorial service in Orange County will be rewarded for going beyond the overused buzzwords like “green” and locking in a pattern of pursuing sustainable practices for the long-term.