Safer Chemicals > Cleaning Products and Services

Many common cleaning and maintenance products contain chemicals that are potentially harmful to human health and the environment. Consider consulting with your sports departments’/institution’s suppliers about less toxic alternatives to the cleaning products you currently buy.

You may also wish to incorporate specifications for less toxic products in contracts and requests for proposals. Also consider reusable cleaning cloths and dilution centers. The sample letter and contract specifications below should serve as a useful guide. For listings of green cleaning contractors, visit Green America’s National Green Pages.

Staff in Custodial Services, Facilities and Sustainability on your campus can help identify existing institutional green cleaning procurement initiatives and opportunities for improvement at your sports facilities. Sustainability staff (and/or faculty in related fields) may also be able to help identify environmentally preferable cleaning products that align with the recommendations below.

PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

Cleaning and maintenance products can contain a wide variety of compounds that can adversely impact the health of student-athletes, employees, fans and other visitors to your sports facilities. Use the following resources to find out which cleaning products are right for your sports departments and institution.

Green Seal Less-Toxic Products

Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia

Department of the Interior Request for Proposals for Janitorial Products

VENDORS

For listings of preferable cleaning products, visit the Green Seal database. The EPA’s Environmentally Preferable Purchasing Database, which contains product specifications and contract language for a wide variety of additional products, is another useful resource.

SAMPLE LETTER TO CURRENT SUPPLIERS

Dear _______,

[Our Department] has initiated an effort to improve our environmental performance in all aspects of our operations. We would like to meet with you to discuss these objectives in more detail. We would also like to discuss ways to cost-effectively switch to less toxic and harmful products within the next few years.

We would like to reduce as much as possible the harmful effects on the environment and public health that are associated with our operations, and we would like to speak with you about less harmful alternatives to the products that we are currently using.

Please call me at your earliest convenience so that we can organize a meeting to pursue this discussion.

STUDENT INVOLVEMENT

Student involvement in sports greening initiatives can reduce demands on staff time and departmental resources. Student involvement can also help attract support from facilities, athletics, recreation, campus administration, and other departments. The following idea is one example of a task for students to conduct in your sports facilities. This preliminary student project could help facilitate interest in switching to environmentally preferable cleaning products across all sports facilities. Consider encouraging interested students to do the following:

Cleaning Products Audit:

Identify any campus-wide environmental purchasing policies or recommendations related to cleaning products. Complete a preliminary analysis of current procurement for cleaning products across all sports facilities. Identify any environmentally preferable features of current cleaning products (such as Green Seal). Flag opportunities for switching additional items to environmentally intelligent products. Consider writing up a business plan that identifies product alternatives and possible local vendors to help encourage these procurement switches.

Visit the relevant page in this guide for more ideas for Student-Led Project Ideas.

*HELPS EARN AASHE STARS POINTS*

Purchasing environmentally intelligent cleaning products for your sports facilities can help your institution earn points within the “Purchasing” subcategory of AASHE’s Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS). It can directly contribute to earning 1 point for the credit “OP 13: Cleaning Products Purchasing.” Work with sustainability and facilities staff on your campus to support any institutional efforts to attain or improve your institution’s STARS rating. Use the STARS 2.0 Technical Manual to learn more.

PUBLIC HEALTH & ENVIRONMENTAL BENEFIT

Purchasing less toxic products helps protect your students’ and employees’ health, as well as public health and the environment. Almost all commonly used cleaning and maintenance products contain hazardous chemicals that can cause serious health effects, including respiratory ailments, skin irritation, neurological disorders, and even cancer. In addition to the human effects, many of these products – or their byproducts – can harm aquatic life and other species.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

EPA Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Green Seal Less-Toxic Products

Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia

Green Home Environmental Store

City of Santa Monica Less-Toxic Products Information

Green Cleaning Products Calculator

Department of the Interior Request for Proposals for Janitorial Products