Cedar Point - Raptor
photo credit: Andrew 94

Tomorrow my son turns 5 and I’m feeling emotional. This week is a big roller coaster of emotions for me. My son had kindergarten round up so I had to come to terms that he’s no longer a baby, toddler or even preschooler but heading into the school age realm where the world is much bigger and less sheltered. I’ll explain some of my observations during round up and how being a “green” mom I couldn’t not notice a few things that left lumps in my throat. But besides the birthday and kindergarten round up I head to my State capitol tomorrow with my son to advocate for early childhood services and programs. I’m emotional over this because it’s so important and dear to my heart and the idea of seeing thousands of parents, educators and children all rallying for our young children makes me feel so proud. I am excited for my son on his 5th birthday to be a part of such an important day and to see what his mom does and learn a small piece about government at such a young age. Oh and then there was my skin cancer examination went well and I have nothing to be worried about other than having melasma on my face – which has brought me to tears because most of the treatment options explored are far from “natural”.

Oh, the emotion but now the determination for me is setting in. Planning and packing for the day tomorrow with healthy snack, my Clean Well sanitizer and cloth wipes all wet in a baggie verses using disposable wipes. Thinking of the kindergarten round up and seeing the huge pumps of alcohol based hand sanitizer, the antibacterial soap and toxic spray sitting next to the white board. I watched my son play with his new classmates and I sat there deciding how would I breach this conversation or rather should I? We walked down the hall to visit the school library and it was still on my mind but then I noticed a large sign saying the school recycles and that they use green cleaning supplies by a local Michigan company called Nichols.

go-green

Green Cleaning Schools and Child Care Centers

Naturally, I went to the website to read about the products and the initiative and program for green cleaning schools sounded wonderful but the word green is really used along with the word green chemicals and that leaves me wondering.  I did call but with no luck of talking with someone so I’m hopeful I’ll get a call back so I can learn more. Reading “environmentally preferable cleaning chemicals” makes me certainly wonder. I’m curious what makes these cleaners “green” and Eco friendly and safe to use around my child and others? Not all of the cleaners in the green chemical category actually meet the Green Seal Environmental standards but I found the all purpose cleaner did and the multi purpose cleaner was “less” toxic and considered VOC free. The disinfectant only claimed to be PH neutral so I’m curious about this cleaner and where it is rated on the I-IV scale by the EPA. I noticed GoJo had a green certified hand cleaner but  I’m pretty annoyed with seeing Purell and the idea that to have a healthy school hand sanitizer pumps need to be used.  Sorry but I don’t see this as very green and clean!

With a daughter who has asthma and has entered a childcare center I’m concerned on two fronts and doing a great deal of investigation and research so I can bring my concerns and solutions to the director, teacher and PTO. The school year is ending but for me this greening your school journey is just beginning.  I feel empowered by Healthy Schools and find their resources for teachers and school systems to be excellent. Answering the question of common myths and misunderstanding about safer greener cleaning is always a step in the right direction. Supporting integrated pest management verses a school using pesticides and encouraging hand washing over hand sanitizers makes sense in my book. Healthy Schools has a complete guide to help schools choose safer greener options for their program. Green Cleaning Standards are set and there are recommendations. Some standards a school might choose to look for in their cleaning products would be the Eco Logo, Designed for the Environment by the EPA and Green Seal. There are several alternative options for cleaning green in a school that do not include using bleach and meet the criteria for less toxic and safer green cleaning. If you sign up for the guide you can see a complete list of options available to your school and the steps to start making this possible.

Less Toxic Disinfecting and Sanitizing

The idea of disinfecting and control the out break of viruses and illnesses daycare’s and schools often use products like bleach or very toxic products. There are always federal, state and local regulations when it comes to disinfecting that childcare centers and schools are required to follow. For home daycare’s and childcare centers that I have taught in and my children have attended they use bleach because it is cheap and the health department and state licensing says mixed properly it kills and disinfects. The childcare licensing book  for Michigan says that a childcare center or home daycare must use an EPA certified disinfectant – not that a childcare center or daycare has to use bleach. I am finding this to be a huge misconception. When it comes to green cleaning schools won’t find a disinfectant that has a green seal or third party certification because in the U.S. disinfectants are considered pesticides and must be registered with the EPA,however, there are disinfectants that are less toxic and kill bacteria and this is considered a “green” disinfectant. It is important to note that all disinfectants are toxic to some degree so if someone says that a disenfectant is not toxic they do not know what they are talking about. there are  has a health policy that needs to be followed

When looking for disenfectants to replace bleach or more toxic bacteria cleaners realize that the EPA does  not allow disinfectants to be third party certified by organizations like Green Seal or EcoLogo if a product is to be clasiffied as a disenfectant, however,  there are a number of other attributes to consider when selecting a “green” disinfectant. According to the Healthy School Guide for green cleaning disinfectants that have chlorine or phenolic compounds are a greater health and environmental risk in comparison to less-toxic alternatives. The EPA rates products I-IV based on toxicity (I being the most toxic). Schools should obviously choose the least toxic classification for a healthier and safer environment for the children and staff. Schools can avoid cleaners that have a fragrance, VOC’s and a high PH. Healthy Schools Green Cleaning Guide recommends avoiding products with 2-butoxyethanol and a bacterial enzyme to clean bathrooms verses a disinfectant with 1,4 dichlorobenzene and to only use bleach if required by regulation when there is infectious disease or blood contamination. Many less toxic disinfectants are more concentrated to save packaging and therefore it is critical to read the label and follow the dilution ratio. I personally use a EPA certified product in my home call Basic G and yes, I have to follow the instructions carefully.

Some Companies and Green Cleaning Lines I am personally researching based on the recommendation for the Healthy School Green Cleaning Guide are:

Betco’s Green Cleaning Line. I like that that many of their products have green seal approval and the line includes a hand soap that is Green Seal approved.

Unisource Green is a company that offers more than just green cleaning but green paper, supplies and equipment. They have a wide variety of EPA, Green Seal and CRI certification and have been named a Green Team Leader. Now I just need some more product information.

Kaivac’s Eco-Friendly Cleaning
. I feel they have an understanding of power air quality in schools. I really like their idea of not just spreading the dirt but making the school dust free and healthier.  They offer Green Seal Certified products and EPA registered disinfectant and a quick and easy guide for PTO’s to find out what this system could cost their school or district!


8 COMMENTS

  1. I hope you feel better… I am glad you don’t have skin cancer but Melasma still sounds scary.

    I am really interested in the information about green cleaners in schools and other buildings… most people I know have the misconception that using bleach at their home keeps it clean and keeps their families safe… but that is definitely not the case and that needs to be clearer.

    Thank you for the great post!

    Kate’s last blog post..Green Tips For Gardening

  2. Oh thank you Kelly. I will. The thing about melasma is that it cannot be cured by treated throughout life to control the darker pigmentation and there is no reason for it coming and going like it does. Weird. Happened after the births of my children.

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