Keep the Office Clean Using Green Cleaning Products

Green business operations is a growing trend in commercial businesses, this includes the products used to keep the office clean. Utilizing green products and equipment can reduce the number of health problems from fumes, allergies, and rashes in employees who work in the office. It is important to understand what chemicals to look for so they can be avoided. Only purchase products that have a complete list of ingredients. Here are some tips to help in choosing the best green cleaning products for a business environment.

Read the Label

This may sound pretty obvious, but not all cleaning supplies that are supposed to be green even list all of the ingredients. It is important to read the label and understand what it means. Avoid cleaners that have ammonia, chlorine or any other caustic chemicals. These create fumes that can irritate eyes and throat. The fumes linger so the people who work in the office are also being exposed. Green products should be PH neutral. All-purpose cleaners should be plant based solvents instead of chemical based solvents. When reading the label if there is a word or name that looks unusual be sure to ask what it is and why it is in the product

green-seal-350Look for Green Seal Certification

Look for the Green Seal certification on labels. This certification means the product has been tested and evaluated by a laboratory that is not connected to the manufacturer or seller, similar to a Consumer Reports style testing lab. To earn this seal the product must meet specific environmental standards, undergo rigorous testing and a visit to the plant where the product is manufactured. Once earned this certification can be displayed on the packaging, in promotional material and in advertising. These products have proven they are environmentally better than the competition.seventh-generation

Purchase from Reputable Companies

Only purchase green products from reputable companies, such as Seventh Generation and Simple Green, and make sure they can provide a complete list of the ingredients for the product. Just because the packaging says “green” doesn’t mean the product doesn’t contain any harmful chemicals. Be sure to check.

These are just a few tips to help choose green cleaning products. For more information contact us.

FTC Revises Green Guides on Sustainability Marketing Claims

FTC logoIn response to businesses making unsubstantiated claims, the Federal Trade Commission attempted to level the playing field for the honest businesses by implementing revisions to their Green Guides on marketing claims, toughening standards for marketing products as green.

Looking around, it’s easy to find companies using broad, unqualified general environmental benefit claims such as “green” or “eco-friendly”. The FTC is encouraging businesses to avoid such broad statements as they can be difficult, if not impossible, to substantiate.

When marketers do make product claims, the FTC is requiring marketers to substantiate those claims. For example, if a product is marketed as “degradable”, evidence must be provided that it will indeed entirely break down and return to nature within a year after disposal.

The new Green Guides revisions also include sections on certifications and seals of approval, carbon offsets, free-of claims, non-toxic claims, made with renewable energy claims, and made with renewable materials claims.  On the other hand, they have declined to take any stance on the use of the terms “sustainable”, “organic” or “natural”. For example, in the case of “organic“, guidance for use of the term has already been provided by U.S. Department of Agriculture.

By marketing with these new guidelines in mind, you are taking part in the promotion of honest business practices at the same time. Please contact us if you want more information on how the FTC’s new Green Guides will impact your business.

Greener Printing Methods and Products for Small Businesses

Cartridge ChangingIn Office Depots 2012 Small Index Study, they found that 60% of small businesses want to green their ink and toner cartridges. Not only are printer and toner cartridges expensive for businesses, they have a high environmental cost. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), over 350 million printer cartridges are thrown away each year, and each one takes over 450 years to decompose.  That’s a lot of cartridges filling up our landfills.

There are several ways to green up your printer usage.

  1. Recycle Used Cartridges: Recycling used printer cartridges is a popular way to save money and help save the environment. Many office supply stores will take back used cartridges and give you a store credit in return. Office Max and Staples both offer a $2 credit for each cartridge, which also saves you money on office supplies if you purchase from these businesses. There are also numerous toner cartridge recycling businesses popping up nationwide. In addition to the environmental benefits, recycled cartridges often cost half of what new cartridges do, offering savings to business owners.
  2. Use Soy Ink: Another option is to switch to soy ink, instead of the more common ink products, which are petroleum-based.  Soy ink has several benefits. It is made from soy oil, which comes from a renewable resource, while petroleum products are not. Soy ink is more biodegradable, degrading four  times faster than regular ink. Also, less soy ink is required for the same amount of printing, leading to few cartridges made and fewer cartridges thrown away.
  3. Consolidate Printing: A final option is printer consolidation. Consider removing desktop printers and fewer networked printers. This leads to less printing by your staff and fewer cartridges that need to be purchased. Educating your employees on the costs of managing paper is also beneficial for a company attempting to go green in the printing department.

If you would like to move to a paperless office, then contact us for more information.

Recycling non-Traditional Business Materials

When we think about recycling today, EPA Graphwe typically think about regular recyclable items such as plastic bottles, aluminum, glass and tin cans.  There are also now resources to recycle other office items such as Styrofoam, batteries, cell phones, CD’s and electronics. With our landfills becoming full, toxic and more expensive it is important for businesses to do their part to recycle as much as waste as possible. Here is a list of resources and office items that you can recycle. Don’t see an item listed? Visit our full list of recycling and donation resources for more recycling resources for businesses.

  • Styrofoam Packing Peanuts

Thanks to groups like the Plastic Loose Fill Council, the ways in which we recycle styrofoam are finally moving into the 21st century.  They have created a program in which used packing materials are repurposed for other business to use.  So, rather than adding those packing peanuts to the landfill, consider sending them a box full.

  • Batteries

The worst thing about batteries is how toxic and damaging they are when left to decompose in our environment. First, check with the battery manufacturer as many times they offer recycling programs for their products.  You can also contact Call2Recycle for locations that accept batteries for responsible recycling.

  • Cell Phones

You probably have see the cell phone recycling bins at your local big box electronics store or in the lobby of the cell phones stores but, did you know that there are other alternatives?  A cell phone can be a huge blessing to those in our third world countries so Collective Good can make that happen.  Domestic violence victims would also be very appreciative of your old phone so the NCADV will happily take it off your hands and put it to good use.

  • Bio-Plastics and Bio-degradable Materials

These are plastics made from lactic acid, soy protein or vegetable starches.  Through naturally occurring processes these plastics will break down over time, completely and without releasing toxins into our soil. If you need to find a recycler for these items contact FindAComposter.com and they will help put you in touch.  By making the effort to compost these products we will encourage the industry to continue to produce earth-friendly bio-plastics.

  • E-Waste (Computers, Printers, Monitors)

KOPEG (Keep Our Planet Earth Green) has an excellent recycling program that can also serve as a way to raise funds.  Encourage recycling of items like old cell phones or MP3 players, broken digital cameras, obsolete PDAs and more, and they will help you turn it into cash.

If you aren’t sure how to recycle a material, Contact us to find out more!

Consider Using Natural Pesticides and Fertilizers

In spring, there is a high volume of pesticides and fertilizers being used to keep lawns green and weed free. Before using your normal chemicals, consider using green or natural alternatives.

Chemical fertilizers and pesticides are known carcinogens and have also been linked to asthma, birth defects and neurological disorders. (for more citations on health, visit the Kids for Saving the Earth). These chemicals are also affecting our wildlife too. Particularly our bee population which chemical pesticides have been proven to be one of the primary reasons we have had such decline in our bee populations. (To learn more visit E-Magazine’s article on Pesticide Linked to Honey Bee Deaths)

Here are some resources for natural pesticide and fertilizer use;

Spring Cleaning: Using Natural Cleaners for Your Home

According to the EPA, of the nearly three thousand top selling chemicals in the U.S., only 7 percent have a full set of basic toxicity information. Most of the chemicals that are used in conventional cleaners have known carcinogens that are harmful to your family and pets. Not to mention the cleaners and chemicals that get into our potable water supply.

With your spring cleaning, try to use natural cleaners for your home. There are some great natural home cleaning products such as Method, Seventh Generation, Mrs. Meyers found at your local natural food or hardware stores. The EPA also has a great guide on purchasing green cleaning products.

You can also try to make your own cleaners, and here are a few websites and articles that have some good information;

  • In Natural Home and Garden, they had a great article, Naturally Clean Home,  that provided receipts and ingredients to create your own natural cleaners. Good, clear and simple directions.