Help your Kids’ School Clean Greener

Help your Kids’ School Clean Greener

Yesterday, I wrote about a recent Environmental Working Group study of school cleaners and indoor air pollution that revealed how many toxic pollutants are emitted into classroom air by traditional cleaning supplies.

In that same study, we also found that cleaning classrooms with “certified green” cleaning products is a simple way to clear the air – for students, teachers and custodians. To be certified, these products must meet strict health and safety standards provided by two independent organizations: Green Seal and EcoLogo.

Act now! Here’s how.

Whether you’re a concerned parent or work at a school or daycare center, the time to get behind the green choice is now! We know you’re busy, so we put together some tools to make it easier to educate and persuade decision makers to choose greener cleaning products.

Get started by downloading EWG’s list of steps you can take to encourage your school to start cleaning greener.

When talking with school staff, remember these key selling points about green cleaning products:

  • No asthmagens. Certified green cleaning supplies do not contain “asthmagen” ingredients – chemicals that cause asthma. Asthma is a growing problem for children, teachers, and custodial staff.
  • No chemicals of concern. Certified green cleaning supplies do not contain carcinogens, reproductive toxins, heavy metals, phthalates and lots of other chemicals of concern commonly found as ingredients in conventional cleaning supplies.
  • Safer for workers. Certified green cleaning supplies are safer for school staff. For example, green cleaning products do not contain ingredients that are corrosive to the skin or eyes, reducing the chances of on-the-job injury.
  • Effective. Certified green cleaning supplies really do clean. To be certified, they must pass industry performance standards.
  • Cost-competitive. Certified green cleaning supplies are cost-competitive – and some schools have even saved money making the switch. For example, certified green cleaning supplies come highly concentrated and must be diluted on site, a practice that reduces the environmental impact of packaging and shipping. A single bottle of a certified green product can be more expensive than its non-green competitors, but diluting it properly means that schools get a lot more cleaning out of each bottle – and more bang for the buck.

Ten states have already passed laws requiring or encouraging the use of green cleaners in schools. In other states, many school districts have acted on their own to adopt green cleaning practices. If your school or daycare center hasn’t made the switch yet, our tools will help you persuade them to make the safer, green choice.

Remember that teachers sometimes bring their own store-bought cleaning supplies into the classroom, some of which may contain harmful chemicals, even if the school officially uses green cleaners. And children may be asked to bring in supplies, too, such as disinfecting wipes, which typically contain antibacterial chemicals that cause asthma. Check to see what’s actually used in your child’s classroom. It’s worth it – especially if the kids are doing some cleaning!

Need inspiration? Proof that it can actually be done? We’ve got it. Check out our profile of Manteca Unified, a California school district making the switch to certified green cleaning supplies.


Rebecca Sutton Ph.D.

Dr. Sutton is a senior scientist in the California office of the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization that strives to protect children from exposure to toxic chemicals. She is an environmental chemist and a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

Get Dr. Greene's Wellness Recommendations

Sign up now for a delightful weekly email with insights for the whole family.

Got an idea, tip or a comment?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *