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Keeping it clean and green

June 2013 | by sustainNU
green cleaning imageAs of Fall 2012, Northwestern, in partnership with ARAMARK, adopted “green cleaning” practices. This means the products NU uses to clean the campus reduce waste and Greenhouse Gas emissions and improve air and groundwater quality. In order for some buildings to become Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified, they must use Green Seal Cleaning products, but ARAMARK has taken green cleaning a step further to use products that put an electrical charge to water to alter its pH, making it an acidic or alkaline cleaner. This eliminates the need for chemicals altogether, which is safer for our indoor air quality and groundwater. All daily cleaning is performed with green cleaning products or electrically activated water. Employees who use these products are thrilled to know they are working in a healthy environment.  

Waste is reduced by using brushes for floor cleaning and microfiber mops and cloths, which last much longer than floor pads and paper towels and provide superior cleaning results. “Reusable microfiber cloths can be laundered 500 times before going to the landfill and they do a better job of picking up dust than paper towels. We use color coded cloths to prevent cross contamination,” stated Associate Director of University Housing Johnathan Winters. All towels, toilet paper, and bags are made out of recycled materials. These products are bought in bulk and use less packaging.

ARAMARK’s District Manager, John Von Kerens, is working on getting several “dispensing machines” on campus to distribute the electrically activated water for custodians to make a disinfectant, glass cleaner, and floor cleaner. This practice will drastically reduce the energy that goes into making the cleaning products as well as eliminate the Greenhouse Gas emissions from transporting the cleaning products.