Here at Green Man, we take our responsibilities seriously and try to uphold our green cleaning credentials throughout all aspects of our work in and around our locations in Bath, Bristol & Frome.
The terms green and eco-friendly are not legal definitions...
With this in mind, it is largely down to the ethics of any particular cleaning company how they choose to apply (or not) the principles behind the concept of what is or isn’t environmentally friendly.
What does this mean in practice?
The most obvious way to judge how eco-aware a carpet cleaning company might be is to investigate the solutions that are used to clean a carpet. In our case, we rely largely on micro-splitters (based on food-grade salts, safe in use & dispersal) and colloidal solutions (plant-derived, entirely safe in production, use & dispersal). If you’re interested in the science behind these products, read our more detailed article specifically about products here.
From time to to time, particularly in stain work, the need to use a solvent is imperative owing to the fact that many man-made stains (e.g. nail polish, blue-tack, paint…) are made to explicitly resist dispersal in water. For this reason, no matter how hot the water is/strong the solutions are, the stain will not lift unless an alternate chemistry is applied.
Does this mean certain processes can be less eco-friendly? Yes… and no… it’s all relative.
Because stain work occasionally involves minute amounts of solvent, or other solvent-like liquids, the amount finally disposed of is hugely diluted by the rinse extraction process. A specific example might be a large nail varnish stain. On average, I would use about 20ml maximum in the pre-treatment of this type of stain, which- if it were part of a bedroom carpet- would then be rinse extracted into a waste tank of around 20 litres. A dilution rate of 1:1000.
Compare this with the use of caustic products like Cillit Bang, Cif, bleach and the like in some homes and you’ll find that the stain treatments we occasionally use are significantly more benign and applied with conscientious precision. In business, as well as at home, every purchasing/cleaning/travel decision is fraught with environmental consequences. As the manager of Green Man, I try to make sure our company treads the line between getting a satisfactory result for our customers & ensuring that our team is operating in as responsible way as possible.
Many homes have embraced eco-technology and resist using anything outside a prescribed spectrum of products. This represents real progress both in our collective understanding of the environment, but also the ongoing evolution of solutions being manufactured.
If it is your intention to remain entirely eco, then we will happily respect this and work within the parameters of our core products on the understanding that some stains may well resist treatment.
2. Water use
Most cleaning methods rely on the properties of water as a natural solvent. The products we use encourage soils, greases & other contaminants to become soluble so that we can extract them either with machinery, or simply absorb them with a basic cloth or mop.
The amount of water we use when cleaning carpets, rugs or upholstery varies. It often depends on the level of soiling we encounter, but certain fibre types will absorb more water and therefore require more water for the cleaning process to work effectively.
“Cleaner homes whilst being mindful of the planet…”
As well as being proportionate in our water-usage, another of the notable ways that we can help our customers to maintain cleaner homes whilst being mindful of the planet is by providing a viable alternate to a commercial rug cleaning plant. Typically, a specialist rug cleaning unit will be based somewhere out of sight of the customer & repeatedly flood a rug in a bespoke rug-cleaning pool. Following this, even greater quantities of water are used to hose the rug clean. This intensive process is a industrialised version of the traditional way rugs are washed in rivers overseas.
Green Man are able to professionally deep-clean almost every type of rug in your home and save hundreds of gallons of water. This delivers an equally effective level of clean and is a much more cost-effective solution for our customers.
Once we have finished the work cleaning your carpets, hard-floors, rugs or upholstery, the waste water we have recovered needs to be safely disposed of. Legally, this must be done via a domestic drainage system which means we will carefully pour the waste water down either a loo or a drain adjoining your home. The reason for this is not due to use of “unsafe chemicals” but actually because of the possibility of biohazard from any contaminants removed from a home or commercial premises.
I know of a sole-trader in Bristol who operates her cleaning business entirely by bicycle! This is clearly an outstanding example, but not a model we can yet replicate in the carpet cleaning world.
The Green Man team has often discussed various alternatives to our current vans but, owing to the size, weight & variety of the tools & machinery we use, this is an issue that will take time to resolve. Clearly, we will need to consider changing the vans to a less polluting form of transport in the medium-term. We are currently consulting to find a way to either go electric or very-low-emission as soon as is practicably possible.
Until we make these changes, we have pledged to do the following:
- Travel by van as little as possible. This means conducting more surveys by bicycle, where possible. It also means organising our journeys to be as efficient as possible by using Waze to plot energy & time effective routes.
2. STOP IDLING.
Idling is obviously unjustifiable. I have asked all our drivers to adopt a conscious approach to “switching off” and fully support the government’s recent restating of the illegality of idling.
The Green Man approach to the environment is based around mindfulness. If we consider everything we do in relation to the wider world, we can continue to find ways to reduce our impact, as well as looking to offset any negative effects our business has.
If you have any questions about eco-friendly cleaning, or about any of our policies, please feel free to get in touch.