Posted by: rocknrev | November 12, 2009

Going Green and People’s Expectations – There is Hope

I’ve always been concerned for the environment and what individuals and companies can do to help keep our world a healthy safe place to live and work. My awareness came about while attending college from 1969-1973 in Portland, Oregon at Lewis & Clark College. Fast forward thirty years and I find myself working for a large established janitorial company, starting off as an administrative assistant and being promoted to customer service manager some years later. Janitorial companies use a lot of chemicals. There are cleaning chemicals, chemicals to disinfect, strip old wax off floors, degreasers, polishes, floor finish, carpet cleaning chemicals–as I said, our type of business uses a lot of chemicals seven days a week.

Most of these products were developed over time for primarily one purpose–find a formula that will do the best job in the least amount of time. As a result of that thinking, there are a lot of products that do a great job for their intended purpose with little thought or concern about the end-users–those using the chemicals and those who work in the spaces where they were used. When a product label advises you to wear protective gear and provide lots of ventilation, there’s a good chance it’s a product not very friendly to people or our planet.

So along comes the “Green” revolution where chemists attempt to make products safe for humans and for the planet. Quite a challenge indeed, and a lot of them have been quite successful. Like most movements, there are the skeptics who think all this concern is a big waste of time and money. There are others who stand on the other end of the spectrum who take great steps toward eliminating anything deemed harmful in their domain and who recycle every little scrap of paper they can get their hands on. There is also another group who want to jump on the bandwagon of the green trend as long as everything is just as clean and bright as it was before. This is a tough group to please. They are often the ones who believe for something to be clean and sanitary, it must be white and bright. They tend to want everything they use made from paper bleached white by chemicals not so friendly. They doubt whether a brown paper towel can be just as safe as one white as snow.

The truth is, if we are going to be successful at making our environment safe for ourselves and for future generations, some compromise in inevitable. It does not mean we need to sacrifice our personal safety from germs and bacterial contamination. Many of the new green product formulations do a good verifiable job of remediating pathogens while keeping surfaces clean. Some of them may require an added dose of “elbow grease” to get the job done and it may mean learning to use paper products like paper towels or toilet paper that are not snow-white and not so softened by more harsh chemicals so they don’t irritate our sensitive skin. It’s taken us a while to become this spoiled and pampered and it will take us a while to unlearn these selfish behaviors as we readjust our sights toward a balanced approach of a lessened negative impact on our fellow-man and on the earth.

There is hope! Our awareness of how our daily choices impact others and our surroundings is on the increase. As we learn what it means to live a more sustainable lifestyle, we also learn that millions on tiny choices by individuals add up to significant change. I encourage you to be a part of the solution by educating yourself and taking steps to lessen your impact on people and the planet. Learning how to live a sustainable lifestyle is more of a journey than a destination. Let’s work together toward positive change that benefits us all.

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