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Greener cleaners for DENR!

When people hear the words “green cleaning,” they might think it refers only to using environmental-friendly cleaning agents.

But it can also include using different, more cost-effective, cleaning tools and methods. For example, converting to a microfiber flat mop is a more effective cleaning method. It can hold more water, will reduce the size of the bucket needed and the amount of  wastewater generated, and cut down on the volume of cleaner needed for the job. For dusting, microfiber cloths are better at picking up dust than most cotton cloths, which leave lint behind.

“Green cleaners” typically have fewer volatile chemicals than traditional cleaners. That means they emit fewer toxic vapors and leave behind less harmful residue compared to many traditional cleaners. The friendlier chemicals in “green cleaning” make it easier to protect peoples’ health, which in turn can help improve office productivity and save money. For example, natural alternatives to cleaning with chlorine eliminate a lot of potentially harmful chlorine vapors. Moreover, “green cleaners” often use fewer dyes and perfumes, so they have fewer odors. Typically, “green cleaners” have better design packaging that allows for better portion control, reduces costs and spillage. And the vast majority of “green cleaners” are better for the environment because they are more easily biodegradable than traditional cleaners.

In the last 10 years, North Carolina state government agencies have been given several legislative mandates and executive orders that encourage agencies to use “greener cleaners.” In that time, North Carolina’s Correction Enterprises has reformulated dozens of its cleaning formulas in order to provide state agencies with “green cleaners.” Policies in the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources address the use of environmentally-friendly cleaners in its buildings and in the janitorial contracts. 

Many state purchasing contracts have “green cleaning” elements in them. Some “green cleaners” require different methods to properly use them, so they can be more effective and less expensive. Contracts obligate contractors to provide training for proper use of their “green cleaning” products. “Green cleaners” are competitively priced with traditional cleaners. So far, several DENR agencies have been using “green cleaners” with great success. When it comes to state requirements for environmentally preferable purchasing, “green cleaners” can meet these requirements. 

 
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The DENR Sustainability Team is composed of representatives from 27 DENR divisions, offices and programs. Its mission is "to inspire a culture of sustainability within DENR by promoting environmentally responsible actions." More information on DENR Sustainability is available at portal.ncdenr.org/web/sustainability/home
Information on sustainability in buildings and lands in North Carolina is available on the state sustainability team NC Project Green website, www.ncprojectgreen.org.
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