Enough. For all. Forever. These are the words of sustainability champion Charles Hopkins, a senior fellow at England’s York University and holder of the UNESCO Chair on Reorienting Teacher Education to Address Sustainability. What Hopkins means by that, what sustainability means, and aims for, in the words of the United Nations Brudtland Report, is: “Meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”
For us here at Advanced Green Cleaning, sustainability is our business model. (Green—after all—is our middle name.) It’s what informs pretty much all our managerial decisions. All of these revolve around these three key areas of sustainability: social, environmental, and economic concerns. Or what’s also known as the triple bottom line: people, planet, and profit.
Although cleaning is obviously our business, we actually put people first. Our customers, our employees, and our community. These social ties sustain us—and everyone around us.
Environmentally, our products and our practices reflect our commitment to the health of the planet. We identify and give top priority to green products, and purchase products and supplies in quantities that minimize the amount of packaging and container waste generated. All of our product containers, dispensers and applicators, cleaning caddies, microfiber laundry bags, trash bags, and other tools and equipment are all reusable and/or made from post-consumer recycled content. (A recent survey by ISSA, the worldwide cleaning industry association, and Sanitary Maintenance Magazine of commercial cleaning product distributors reported that almost one-third of total sales were for “green cleaning products.”) We’re committed to impacting the earth as lightly as possible. The less energy and fewer materials we use, the lower our operating costs.
In the long term, which is what sustainability is really all about, this model is not only the most cost-effective but the most profitable. Therefore, we’re economically sustainable. And we are green because we buy green. A recent article in the Strategic Management Journal showed that companies like Advanced Green Cleaning that invest heavily in sustainability have higher returns on assets than firms that invest moderately. Essentially, we’re all in. (Another study, conducted by economics professors Stephen Erfle and Michael Fratantuono at Pennsylvania’s Dickinson College, found a positive correlation between profits and a company’s social performance.)
So, yes, we firmly believe in reducing our carbon footprint and greenhouse gases and improving our ecosystems, but going green and staying green keeps us financially healthy as well. The core principles of sustainability are also the core principles of a healthy business: efficiency, waste reduction, energy saving, resource management and forward planning. (According to a report titled, The Big Green Opportunity for Small Business in the U.S., growth rates of green market businesses are outpacing conventional segments in every industry where data was collected.)
Even better than its financial impact is the evidence showing that sustainability and comprehensive green cleaning programs have led to significant savings in energy, water, chemicals, and waste while reducing illness and injuries to custodial staff as well as workers’ compensation costs. When the University of Georgia recently implemented a green-cleaning program at its Physical Plant Division, for example, the impact of this sustainability approach was significant: over a three-year period, the number of lost hours among cleaning service workers decreased from 4,474 to 386, and the University was able to decrease its expenditure on chemical products from $1.5 million to $110,000 annually, due to its new environmental purchasing policy.
By choosing less hazardous cleaning products, we here at Advanced Green Cleaning have reduced our exposure to such products, minimized the potential impact to our workers and our customers, and improved indoor air quality and reduced water and ambient air pollution. And because most of our green cleaning practices call for greater dilution of cleaning products, we’ve also reduced packaging waste and disposal costs.
All while doing our part to leave enough, for all, forever.