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What Is Sustainable Cleaning and Why Is It Necessary

sustainable cleaning products

What Is Sustainable Cleaning?

Sustainable cleaning refers to using hygiene products that have minimal environmental impact throughout their lifecycle, including sourcing raw materials, usage, and disposal of packaging. However, sustainability in cleaning goes beyond just ecological preservation. It also encloses aspects of economic accessibility, ensuring that these products are affordable for all, as well as considerations of social justice, such as labour rights and fair treatment throughout the production process. In essence, sustainable cleaning products aim to balance environmental responsibility with economic and social equity.

Life Cycle of a Product

what is ecological cleaning

Throughout the life cycle of a cleaning product, resources like energy, water, and materials are used at various stages, from its manufacturing to its transportation, storage, use, and disposal. To improve sustainability, it’s necessary to make an overall improvement across the entire life cycle. For instance, if a product requires less energy to manufacture but needs more energy to transport and use, it wouldn’t make sense. Therefore, sustainability can be achieved by finding ways to reduce the environmental impact of a cleaning product at every stage of its life cycle.

A “life cycle analysis” (LCA) method can help figure out a situation’s different aspects. LCA studies have shown that when it comes to cleaning, the main resources used are:

  • The raw materials required to make the product 
  • Protective and user-friendly packaging throughout its lifecycle
  • Energy for manufacturing processes, transportation, and usage
  • Water usage from inception to disposal

The Three Pillars of Sustainability

what is economic sustainability
The essence of sustainability lies in meeting our world’s present needs while safeguarding future generations’ ability to meet their own needs. It involves maintaining the equilibrium of natural, social, and economic resources, regardless of whether you’re a producer, provider, or consumer of goods and services.
 
Sustainability also includes social justice, especially in terms of ensuring the fair distribution of resources. This concept has three main pillars: economic, environmental, and social sustainability.

Economic Sustainability

Economic stability is vital in ensuring every community has access to the resources required to meet its needs. This includes promoting and maintaining independence and fostering stable livelihoods for all.

Environmental Sustainability

When discussing sustainability, the first thing that comes to mind for many people is environmental preservation and protection. This is the most straightforward aspect of sustainability, as most individuals are already aware of the importance of ensuring ecological sustainability. 

Social Sustainability

The pillar of social sustainability aims to promote universal human rights and ensure that communities have access to basic necessities for maintaining health and safety. It also focuses on protecting against discrimination and preserving cultural, labour, and personal rights.

How to Practise Sustainable Cleaning

sustainable cleaning practices

Sustainable cleaning, as derived from the preceding definition and principles, refers to cleaning practices and routines that prioritise the well-being of the community and the environment. These approaches and techniques are adaptable to various scales, suitable for adoption by both individuals and enterprises alike. 

"Green" or "Eco-Friendly" Cleaning Products

Transitioning to Green or Eco-Friendly Cleaning Products and Supporting Sustainable Manufacturers might initially seem daunting, but in reality, it’s a straightforward process. With the growing availability of environmentally safe cleaners, making the switch has become easier than ever. The key lies in being informed about what to seek out.
 
For instance, labels boasting terms like “all-natural” or “organic” can be misleading, as they lack regulatory standards. Instead, focus on products endorsed by official bodies such as the NEA or EPA, which ensures their eco-friendliness.
 
Examining the ingredients list is crucial. Genuine green products eschew VOCs (volatile organic compounds) like benzene, ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, toluene, and xylene, which are commonly found in conventional cleaners.
 
Moreover, avoid substances classified as SVHCs (Substances of Very High Concern), such as Sodium Chromate or Cobalt Sulphate, which pose risks to the environment and human health. When alternatives aren’t available, prioritise personal protective equipment and responsible waste disposal practices.

Aim For Efficiency

Striving for Effectiveness: Sustainable cleaning involves minimising the use of cleaning products and water and conserving time, energy, and finances. 
 
This entails consistently pursuing efficiency during cleaning tasks. Practical strategies for efficient, sustainable cleaning encompass following the recommended product guidelines and quantities so the process doesn’t have to be repeated. Additionally, adopting a top-to-bottom cleaning approach proves advantageous, ensuring comprehensive cleanliness with just one sweep. However, if you’re considering drain cleaning, a bottom-to-top approach is preferable. 
 
If you want to take it further, hang your clothes to dry instead of using a dryer. This reduces energy consumption and prolongs the lifespan of your clothing. If outdoor drying isn’t an option, consider using a collapsible drying rack indoors.

Maximising Water Conservation

Commercial cleaning often requires significant water usage, especially in specialised services like deep cleaning. When engaging commercial cleaners, inquire about their equipment choices. Advances in technology have introduced water-efficient tools such as low-moisture vacuums. If your selected cleaner already uses such tools, great. If not, consider seeking out a company that does or encourages your current provider to transition.
 
For small-scale maintenance, opt for reusable flat mops or brooms to sweep dust from floors before wet-mopping. Additionally, reserve dishwasher usage for full loads only. 

Opt for Microfiber

Opting for microfiber presents a sustainable alternative to traditional paper towels for cleaning. While paper towels are convenient, their extensive use contributes to environmental strain through excessive waste. Using recycled fabrics for cleaning rags offers a partial solution, yet employing microfiber cloths represents a superior approach.
 
The distinct composition of microfiber fabric enables efficient removal of dust, dirt, and grime from surfaces. Moreover, its washable nature significantly reduces waste production. 
 
Furthermore, microfiber cloths can be used multiple times before necessitating laundering, especially for minor dusting tasks. When confronted with tougher stains, the fabric can be easily moistened with water, eliminating the need for specialised cleaning agents.

Certifications for Sustainable Cleaning

ecocert and ecolabel

Numerous certifications are available for sustainable cleaning products. However, the top brands display these seals on their products to indicate that they have met the highest standards and consistently offer sustainable cleaning goods

The EU Ecolabel

The EU Ecolabel, or the EU flower, is a certification that sets a European benchmark for sustainable products. Earned only after passing rigorous compliance tests and meeting stringent criteria, the certification process is overseen by an independent and publicly accountable body.

EcoCert

Ecocert certification is a widely recognised mark for organic products worldwide, encompassing various categories such as agriculture, textiles, food, and organic and natural cosmetics.

EcoVadis

EcoVadis is a highly regarded platform offering a range of sustainability ratings and performance improvement tools for supply chains worldwide. The platform assesses companies’ sustainability practices and performance, taking into account various factors across environmental, social, ethical, and supply chain sustainability.

Does ORAPI Support Sustainable Cleaning

orapi ecovadis award

ORAPI is committed to sustainable cleaning practices. We proudly hold certifications from EcoVadis, EcoCert, and Ecolabel, which we have earned through rigorous external testing of our products. In addition, our signature line, ORAPI Generation, adheres to five key principles: efficacy, bio-sourced or sustainable ingredients, eco-friendly formulations, safety, and eco-conscious packaging. Lastly, we actively promote sustainable cleaning methods through our online resources and personalised consultations.

Conclusion: Sustainable Cleaning

Sustainable cleaning embraces environmental preservation, economic accessibility, and social justice, aiming for a balanced, equitable future. Transitioning to eco-friendly products, maximising efficiency, conserving water, and opting for certified sustainable options are important steps. Certifications like EU Ecolabel, EcoCert, and EcoVadis demonstrate commitment to sustainability. ORAPI exemplifies this commitment with certifications and a signature line adhering to key principles. Through informed choices and collective efforts, sustainable cleaning becomes a practical pathway to a cleaner, fairer world.

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