NATIONAL REPORT—The road has not been an easy one for green cleaning product entrepreneurs trying to break into the hospitality industry. One company has dominated the lodging sector for years and there has been the perception that green cleaning products are more expensive and less effective than market competitors.
While those perceptions may have been true 10 years ago, it is no longer the case. In fact, with the price of petroleum—a primary ingredient in many cleaning fluids—skyrocketing, green cleaning options can be just as affordable. Also, in many cases, they can be more effective than more toxic alternatives.
Brian Arslanian, president of Sierra Environmental Technologies Inc., Watsonville, Calif., says the lodging industry is 90 percent dominated by conventional cleaning products. That dominance is diminishing, he says, because an increasing number of vendors like his company are able to offer service and support over a larger geographical area. Consumers also prefer greener options, he says.
“In one Travel Industry Assn. study, 86 percent of frequent travelers said they would choose a green hotel over one less green and pay a 6 percent premium for it,” says Arslanian, whose company sells a wide range of green cleaning products.
A Safer Alternative
Injuries from using harmful chemicals are common in the lodging industry, Arslanian says. He cited a state of Washington study that concluded that housekeepers are seven more times likely to suffer chemical injuries than other service workers that use chemicals as part of their jobs. The average cost of each accident, the study found, is $1,600.
Housekeepers, custodians, kitchen staff and other personnel who have daily contact with potentially harmful cleaning products can reduce long-term health risks to themselves, chemical-sensitive guests and the environment by using alternatives that are nontoxic and readily biodegradable.
Many options are now available that do not include chemicals known to cause cancer, asthma, allergies, multiple chemical sensitivity, hormonal disruption and other health disorders. The green products omit petroleum products, optical brighteners, chlorine, phosphates, artificial fragrances, dyes and other volatile organic chemicals.
In addition to Sierra Environmental Technologies, a source for green cleaning products is Brooklyn, N.Y.-based EcoLogic Solutions. The company, whose customers include hotels representing Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., Best Western International Inc. and others, produces many types of solutions. Each is nontoxic, non-hazardous and non-polluting.
Anselm Doering, president and c.e.o. of EcoLogic Solutions, says housekeepers and custodians, on average, use products that create approximately 60 pounds of hazardous waste per year. Much of that waste ends up back in the environment. That is just one of several reasons to use natural cleaning products.
“You also can improve the safety and morale of your employees,” Doering says. “If you show your employees that you care about their welfare, they will be more loyal.”
Citra-Solv LLC, Danbury, Conn., produces a complete line of cleaning products that do not include harsh chemicals or petroleum distillates. Most use orange extractives to cut through grease and grime.
Pineapple Hospitality, Saint Charles, Mo., sells a line of Hillyard cleaning products that meet Green Seal’s standard for industrial and institutional cleaners based on its reduced human and aquatic toxicity and reduced smog production potential.
Green Suites International, Upland, Calif., distributes a line of SafeChoice cleaning products that includes an all-purpose cleaner/degreaser, bath and bowl cleaner, and glass cleaner.
Ecolab Inc., St. Paul, Minn., recently launched its EcoLogic line of housekeeping products, including products certified by Green Seal. Its product line includes detergents, bathroom and glass cleaners, laundry products, odor control solutions, and floor cleaners.
Seventh Generation Inc., Burlington, Vt., produces many cleaning products that can be used from the guestroom to the laundry room. Many of the company’s products use hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine, and vegetable-based compounds instead of petroleum-based ones. The result is a safer working environment and no chemical residue left for guests and staff.
Seventh Generation’s products include all-purpose cleaning fluids, laundry detergent, dishwashing fluids and powder, glass and surface cleaner, chlorine free bleach, fabric softener and many others. The company’s Web site includes additional product information.
ORANGE-SOL Industrial Products Inc., Gilbert, Ariz., uses orange oil in its cleaning products. Sunshine Makers Inc., Huntington, Calif., sells Simple Green cleaning products as an alternative to more toxic options. Because the products come concentrated, less fluid is needed to perform cleaning tasks.
Habitat Suites Hotel Goes Green
The Habitat Suites Hotel, Austin, Texas, has been an industry leader in finding every possible way to provide an environmentally friendly environment for its staff and guests. In reaction to concern about the impact of toxic cleaning products, especially on housekeepers and those guests with chemical sensitivities, the hotel now uses a natural cleaning product that includes orange oil. The hotel works with a local company, Eco-Wise, to supply the cleaning product. It is delivered in reusable five-gallon buckets.
“It cleans just as well and it does not cause skin or other irritations,” Marquis says. “There is no residue after the cleaning is done.”
Kimpton’s Pacific Palisades Hotel in Vancouver, B.C., also uses environmentally friendly cleaning products. The vendor they chose is Peterborough, Ont.-based Enviro-Solutions. The Canadian company’s products are Green Seal certified.
For the environment, the benefits of using nontoxic, readily biodegradable products are many. Detergents not using phosphates will not cause algae blooms. Non-chlorine products will not produce residue that persists in water, and fluids not incorporating optical brighteners will not kill fish and other aquatic life.
Glenn Hasek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.