We all know the importance of ‘green’ as it is the most wanted buzzword of today. As the world is tormented by massive environmental issues like global warming, ozone depletion, pollution, exploitation and depletion of natural resources, increasing amounts of solid wastes are found everywhere in this world. Over the years there has been a considerable amount of understanding of environment preservation and sustainable practices amongst various sectors and masses of India. So the terms like green housekeeping, eco-friendly practices, biodegradable wastes and indoor air quality(IAQ) are not baseless and have a big role to play in the effort towards sustainability. The 3 R’s of Sustainability, reduce, reuse and recycle are some concepts on which the hotel industry is forming guidelines to reduce impurities and strive for sustainable development.
What is Green Housekeeping?
Green Housekeeping is an important aspect of sustainable practices,and is an evolving trend of today.All the housekeepers around the world are making efforts to switch over to ‘green cleaning’.It is a comparatively new concept which means using cleaning products and methods which are environment-friendly and which have ingredients and processes that will help to preserve human health and the quality of the surroundings.
It is now a norm to have a green cleaning policy for all the hotels. It also requires many aspects like a re-evaluation of cleaning products and practices to improve the indoor air quality and to be sensitive to the environment. In the US an organisation called LEED(Leadership in energy and environmental design)has made such a policy mandatory for certification of the environment of hotels.
Need for Green Housekeeping
We firstly need to know why we need to get rid of the traditional cleaning methods and what are the problems associated with them.There is a big notion that effective cleaning is possible with products which have chemicals in them.But research has proved that these cleaning products and methods cause a lot of health problems.
- The strong chemicals used in housekeeping are related to serious health issues like eye-throat irritation,headache,nausea,damage to organs like liver and kidney and also cancer.So to remove these negative effects of chemicals in cleaning products the hotels are switching over to green certified cleaning products and equipment.
- These products have some resilient qualities like low toxicity,they are not carcinogenic,have no harmful chemicals,are milder and don’t emit fumes and gases as against other products.
- The housekeeping supplies like toilet rolls and tissue papers are also made eco-friendly as they are unbleached and made from recycled materials.Following certain housekeeping practices like use of certified equipment,microfiber cleaning,entryway matting and water saving devices also augment the green cleaning movement.
- These environment friendly cleaning equipments work on the principle of using less harmful chemicals and concentrate more on their mechanical action,time spent on cleaning and the temperature of water used.
- The vacuum cleaners working on this principle make less noise and are 99% more effective in cleaning.
How to test green cleaning products
Before deciding to choose the required product, it has to be made sure that it is effective, efficient and equally economical to use in the long run. The certifying agencies in US like Green Seal test these products for human health and environment friendliness and more such cleaning aspects on a very stringent basis. The chemicals used in these products are biodegradable, have low VOC(volatile organic compounds)content, low impact on IAQ, are non-irritant to users and guests, are concentrated and can be used for multi purposes. The MSDS(Material Safety Data Sheet) of the given cleaning products must be thoroughly evaluated. And it has to be ensured that the products and equipment are certified by authorized and well-known agencies. The products of Diversey have been certified by Green Seal, Environmental Choice, Green guard etc. These green chemicals are cost-effective too as they have a very low dilution ratio and more productivity compared to their traditional counterparts.
The concept of ‘Green Cleaning’ has been very impactful in the Indian hotel industry and is going to stay. The FHRAI(Federation of hotel and restaurant association of India)has plans to establish an accreditation committee to certify hotels to implement eco-friendly practices. Many top Indian hotels follow US Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design(LEED)Certification to volunteer their commitment to the green movement.
Steps to be taken by hotels to make housekeeping eco-friendly are-—
1.Stay away from chemicals
In the hotel industry there is a great usage of chemicals than in offices and households. When purchasing cleaning products, hotels must select ones which are least harmful to health and surroundings together. The water run-off from hotels can pollute water resources if toxic cleaning solutions are used. The use of fertilizers and pesticides in the hotel premises must be in a safe and minimum manner. Room fresheners are another source of many toxins like formaldehyde, benzene, styrene, phthalates. So such products must be used which are natural, pure and less toxic.
2.Safe chemicals must be used
The chemicals which are used must be handled vigilantly and with care because exposure to such harmful chemicals will have a negative impact on housekeeping staff.The safety of the staff must be a priority job and they must be provided with adequate equipments and tools like safety goggles and gloves when working with dangerous chemicals.The cleaning products must be appropriately diluted.The strong chemicals must be stored in strong containers to avoid their leakage.
The standard of cleaning service of the hotel must be good. The most effective cleaning options must be used to keep the surfaces, floors and everything else spic and span, spotless. There are many products being used in daily chores which can have a massive impact on the people and environment around them. For eg, chemical-based fungicides can have a negative impact on local insect populations including bees and some cleaning liquids can release toxic fumes or harm if mishandled.
4.Investment in green equipment
The hotels must invest in green equipment to use the resources minimally. Sustainable products must be used for floor and carpet care. For eg, Green Seal gives environmental certification in the US and it recommends vacuum cleaners that comply with Carpet and Rug Institute’s Green Label Program requirements and work. Energy efficient air conditioners must be used in the hotel including guest rooms.
5.Presence of Pest Management Plan
The pesticides and pest management methods used in a hotel must adhere to the condition of being sensitive to the environment.Every hotel must have a good indoor Integrated Pest Management Plan(IPM) that directs how pests will be managed in the hotel in a harmless manner being non-toxic and natural.The situation of their use too must be defined in the plan.According to LEED guidelines,guests must be told about the use of pesticides before and after their use in the hotel.
6.An educated and trained staff
The use of required products and processes may not just be the ultimate solution if there is the lack of aware and trained staff to carry on their works flawlessly.So the staff must be given required training and other needed courses to update them totally.This step will help conserve water which may be otherwise wasted due to unnecessary flushing of toilets or the use of certain cleaning methods.In this way the staff can learn about various aspects of keeping the hotel in a proper way including rationalization,water management,energy efficiency,water recycling etc.
Benefits of Green Cleaning
The ultimate aim to use the green cleaning method is to use the techniques and ingredients in a safe and healthy way. Some benefits of going green are—
2.Better knowledge of the ingredients of the chemicals
3.Safer to use
4.Does not pollute water areas
5.Clean and fresh quality
The green cleaning revolution is at it’s full swing in India. Now it has become mandatory for most of the hotels to support and incorporate this method of cleaning and housekeeping. It’s safer, easier and totally compatible with human health and other aspects. So the hotel industry must include it in their policy and reap out benefits from it, they being massive.