Green Cleaning Policy

At Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA), it is our policy to build and maintain a sustainable building. To this end, we have adopted the MMA Green Cleaning Practices. This program is being piloted campus-wide, including the new cadet housing. The green cleaning practices include the use of green cleaning chemicals, employing cleaning processes that benefit public health and the environment, and purchasing environmentally preferable janitorial products.

Purpose

Green cleaning is defined as cleaning to protect health without harming the environment. It has been found that widely used cleaning products can have serious adverse effects on the health of building occupants and janitors. At the same time, these cleaning products are harming the environment. Green cleaning is a widely accepted movement to make cleaning for the health of building occupants and janitors a primary concern, while minimizing the harm to the environment through better purchasing practices and cleaning processes. Green cleaning means emphasizing the environmental sustainability of cleaning operations and overall building health (i.e. indoor air quality) and not solely evaluating building cleanliness based on appearance.

How does green cleaning work?

Green cleaning is more than just substituting chemicals; it involves choosing cleaning processes that improve the health of a building. Methods include preventing dirt and dust from entering the building and using effective and efficient cleaning methods, such as HEPA filtration vacuums and microfiber cloths. The focus on the process of cleaning means that custodial training is an integral step in the process; in addition, comprehensive training is required to ensure that custodians are using the products in a safe and efficient manner. Green cleaning also takes into consideration the product’s entire life cycle, favoring concentrated products that are minimally packaged in biodegradable, pre-measured, and color-coded packets to be used with the refillable polyethylene containers. The products used in MMA’s Green Cleaning program are Earth-Wise certified and have been shown to meet all requirements of the Green Seal’s GS- 37 standard.

Benefits of a green cleaning program

  • Health benefits for building occupants: Most people spend 90% of their time indoors, forcing them to be exposed to the chemicals that are used in buildings. The chemicals used in cleaning products have been linked to multiple chemical sensitivity syndrome, allergies, contact dermatitis, headaches, dry eyes, nausea, dizziness, and fatigue. Instituting a green cleaning program helps to improve indoor air quality, which in turn, helps to increase workers’ productivity, decrease absenteeism, and reduce medical and insurance costs.
  • Health benefits for custodians: Custodians spend their entire day working with harmful chemicals, giving them an increased chance of injury. Cleaning chemicals can cause many health problems for custodians, including: eye damage, skin burns, headaches, asthma, organ damage, reproductive disorders, and cancer. The Janitorial Products Pollution Prevention Project estimates that the average janitor uses about 23 gallons of chemicals per year, of which 25% are hazardous. Switching to green cleaning products and processes decreases the overall use of chemicals and hazardous products, which decreases risk of injury to custodians. Environmental benefits: Cleaning products contain many ingredients that produce harmful environmental effects. Two examples include volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that contribute to photochemical smog, tropospheric ozone, and carcinogenic indoor air quality, and phosphates and nitrates that contribute to eutrophication in waterways.

MMA’s Green Cleaning program reduces the ecological impact of its products by reducing its overall cleaning chemical use and by purchasing products whose environmental impacts have been tested and proven to be minimal by the Earth-Wise and Green Seal requirements.