Think Green for Floor Cleaning Products – Part I

What is a green floor cleaning product? Is it about a manufacturer’s efforts to conserve natural resources and recycle? Does it mean that the floor cleaner will help you to conserve water or energy? What will be its effect on indoor air quality? Is it safe when it comes in contact with your skin?

The more I’ve researched the vast topic of “green”, the more certifications and approvals I find. This “bit of information” I planned to share in my blog just kept getting bigger and bigger so I’ve decided to break it down into smaller bites for you. This is Part I. Look for Part II coming soon!

Manufacturers of floor cleaning products are changing what they make and how they make it. As products change to meet consumer demand for “green”, industry and government have introduced a range of certifications, approvals and standards. It can be difficult to navigate through the acronyms and organizations that certify and approve products so here is a guide on a few that I’ve come across. I am not endorsing any one certification, merely summarizing the information so you can draw your own conclusions and better understand what each means.

Green Seal Certified, EPP Approved, LEED qualified, and DfE Approved are “green” approvals I came across while looking into environmentally friendly carpet cleaning products. The organizations behind these approvals and certifications also evaluate other types of products as you’ll see in my next blog. “Green” takes on different meanings, depending on the type of approval or certification and the goal of the certifying organization.

Host Dry Extraction Carpet Cleaning System is a full line of carpet cleaning products from spot cleaners to 6lb or 12lb boxes of cleaner used in the Host Dry-Clean Machine. These Host products are Green Seal Certified, EPP Approved and can contribute points for LEED qualification. The inherent nature of this dry carpet cleaning system conserves water because none is needed, conserves energy because water doesn’t need to be heated and fans don’t need to be run for drying the carpet because the carpet never gets wet. Host Dry Carpet Cleaning System reduces the risk of mold and allergans, often associated with wet-carpet cleaning, thereby producing better indoor air quality.

Shaw R2x Green Stain & Soil Remover is a carpet spot cleaner that is DfE Approved by the EPA (different approval than Host) and intended for use on stain resistant and wool carpets and water safe fabrics. Shaw, as a manufacturer, has made great strides towards environmental stewardship in their manufacturing process and improving indoor air quality by reducing chemical emissions in the products they make. You can read more about the Shaw Green Edge on their website.

Mohawk Floorcare Essentials is a line of “all natural”, non-toxic products including Carpet Stain Remover, Carpet Care Kit and Odor Eliminator. These carpet cleaners, like Shaw R2x, are DfE Approved. Mohawk has a corporate environmental policy that emphasizes reducing, reusing and recycling materials in every aspect of their business. Mohawk continues to look for new ways to responsibly use raw materials and natural resources to reduce the impact on the environment.

What does all of this mean to you?
Green Seal Certified and EPP Approved (Environmentally Preferable Purchasing) both focus on the impact that manufacturing and materials used have on the environment.

Green Seal Certified means that evaluation has been conducted by the non-profit organization, Green Seal, and that the product reduces impact on the environment and on human health based on its use of raw materials, manufacturing process and recycling or disposal methods for the product. Green Seal Certified also indicates that the product works as well as or better than others in its class.

EPP Approved (Environmentally Preferable Purchasing) tells you the product has a reduced impact on human health and the environment when compared to other products that serve the same purpose. This comparison applies to raw materials, manufacturing, packaging, distribution, use, reuse, operation, maintenance, and disposal. The primary purpose of EPP Approval, given by the Federal EPA (Environmental Protection Agency), is to help agencies across the federal government comply with green purchasing requirements. The EPA website publishes a list of approved products. My experience has been that the list can be difficult to navigate so you may want to check the manufacturer’s website first if you’re looking for a specific product.

LEED qualification is geared primarily towards commercial buildings. LEED, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), is an internationally recognized green building certification system aimed at improving building performance as it pertains to energy savings, water efficiency, reduction of CO2 emissions, improved indoor environmental quality, and responsible use of resources and sensitivity to their impacts on the environment. LEED provides building owners and operators a concise framework for identifying and implementing practical and measurable green building design, construction, operations and maintenance solutions. Floor cleaning products that are EPP approved also meet LEED requirements.

DfE, Design for the Environment, focuses on a product’s direct effect on people and on the use of sustainable ingredients. DfE is another EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) program that works with environmental organizations and industry. DfE’s, “Safer Product Labeling Program” promotes protecting families and the environment. Individual products are evaluated for their impact on both human and environmental health and for their ability to perform as well or better than other products in their class.

That’s all for this blog. Stay tuned for Part II –Hardwood & Laminate Cleaners, Tile & Grout Cleaners, GREENGUARD, CHPS, CA01350…

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