Columbia Custodians Go Green

6 years 2 months 3 weeks ago Sunday, June 30 2013 Jun 30, 2013 Sunday, June 30, 2013 4:46:00 PM CDT June 30, 2013 in News
By: Cristina Alexander

COLUMBIA - Some Columbia custodians are following a trend of using environmentally friendly cleaning products.

The Columbia Public Works department acknowledged the importance of going green for their employees. The Green Clean Institute (GCI) and the Columbia Public Works Department recognized 12 staff members of the custodial department for going through the necessary steps to get the Silver Environmental Health Services (EHS) Certification. Columbia is the first city in Missouri to be green certified.

The GCI provided the classes for the employees. GCI President David Thompson helped conduct the ribbon cutting ceremony and handed out the certification to each of the employees. Thompson taught the classes emphasized the importance of going green. He says the main goal of the classes is to not only teach the employees how to use the products, but why.

"This city has now set a bar a little bit higher because they're protecting, through their intellect, the public health of people that come in and out of the building," he said.

Thompson has a saying for his company, but also says that it really defines what the program is all about. He thinks "just to say that a building is clean, does not mean that it is healthy. But if a building is healthy, it is clean."

The products the team of custodians now use have a health rating to indicate how harmful, or not harmful, the product is. For example, the soy-based surface cleaner the team is using has a health rating of zero. The lower the number, the healthier the product.

The green bug has caught on to every aspect of the custodians' work. Public Works Supervisor Tammy Thomas is not only happy with the new system, but is finding more and more ways to go green. She makes an effort to research how to properly dispose of things like empty product bottles. Thomas and her team even use towels and mops made from microfibers, which reduce cross contamination. The microfibers in both the towels and the mops allows for the team to wash and reuse them.

Thomas says she felt the need to go through the certification classes not only for the cost cuts, but the health benefits as well.

"I think it's important that my team took this step because it's for health. That should be number one," she said.

Not only was Thomas certified, but her team members were too certified and recognized for their hard work: Kent Branson, Lonnie Anderson, Anthony Burnett, Jackie Burnett, Keith Scolaro, Joshua Jacobs, William Watkins, Stephen Thrower, Mary Smith, Stephen Bush and Jose Saisca.

Thomas also says she is looking for more ways to go green.

"There's more steps I would like to take. This is going to be a long journey and right now I'm not quite sure what i want to do next, but I'm going to keep looking for more ways to be greener," she said.

The next steps Thomas and her team could take, would be earning more points to reach Gold Certification standard which is an even higher recognition than Silver Certification.

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