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Support Sustainability

Good Practices for a Better Earth

In simple terms, sustainability means the ability to improve the quality of life for this and future generations by creating products that promote hygiene and cleanliness, and are environmentally sound and economically successful. It also means using those products in a responsible and ecologically sound manner.

Every one of us can be a part of the sustainability movement by instituting some very easy-to-follow practices. When it comes to cleaning products, the choices we make, the way we use them and how we dispose of them has a big impact on the environment, explains Nancy Bock, Senior Vice President of Consumer Education at the American Cleaning Institute®.

  • Read the product labels carefully and choose the product that's best for the job.
  • Choosing concentrated products is a smart sustainable choice. Besides needing fewer resources to make the product, concentrates reduce the use of packaging materials. And smaller boxes and bottles save energy in shipping.
  • Consider refill systems that have been developed for several types of cleaning products. Refill containers use less packaging material than primary containers. Refills also usually don't require convenience features like trigger sprayers or measuring caps, reducing packaging even more.
  • Don't purchase more product than you will realistically use.
  • Use the product up. If you can't do that, give it to someone who can. Just be sure the label is intact so that they will know how to use and dispose of the product safely.

Good sustainable practices also include proper disposal techniques. Follow label directions, if provided. If there are no directions:

  • Think about how you use the product. If it mixes with water, it's water-soluble. Most liquid, gel and powder water-soluble household cleaning products can be disposed of down the drain with running water – just like when you use them.
  • Most solid products (soap scouring pads, sticks, towelettes, etc.) can be placed in the trash. For other products (such as oven cleaners, crystal drain openers and furniture polishes), call the manufacturer's toll-free number (or visit their website) for disposal recommendations, or check with your local waste disposal facility.
  • Don't reuse containers for any other purposes.

Once the container is empty, be sure to dispose of it properly. Check with your community's recycling center to see what type of plastic, paperboard and metal containers they accept. Refer to local guidelines for recycling plastics, paperboard and aerosol cans (steel and/or aluminum). In many communities, items like aerosol cans and containers that contain disinfectants, drain cleaners, etc. are part of special hazardous waste collection events.

To locate your nearest recycling centers for cleaning product containers, as well as other items such as paint, batteries, electronics and hazardous waste, visit www.earth911.com.

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Cleaning Matters® is compiled by the American Cleaning Institute and is not copyrighted. Such information is offered solely to aid the reader. The American Cleaning Institute and its member companies do not make any guarantees or warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to the information contained in Cleaning Matters and assume no responsibility for the use of this information.