Columbia Public Schools getting more eco-friendly

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COLUMBIA – Columbia Public Schools is trying to make its schools more environmentally friendly through the way schools are cleaned.

With the help of the Director of Custodial Services, Mike Jones, green cleaning in all schools started in 2009. One of the latest initiatives, started this year, is a water filtration system that is saving CPS money.

“When we move towards green cleaning it’s a matter, it’s bringing products in that are not harmful to the students, the staff and visitors, as well as it’s not as harmful to our surfaces. It’s sustainable,” Jones said.

Some of the advancements include using eco-certified paper towels and tissue, instead of using and throwing away rags; and backpack vacuums that are 70 percent more productive and better for the environment.

The head janitor at Battle Elementary School, Cortney Broadus, said the new additions help him at his job and said greener products helps students because they don't use volatile organic compounds, also known as VOC's.

“We talk about things like asthma. 14 million days are lost by students because of asthma-related issues. Using green cleaning chemicals that don’t have the strong VOC’s, otherwise strong fragrances, is doesn’t affect those students so they’re able to stay in school,” Jones said.

He is not alone thinking the products help people inside the schools.

Broadus said, “I’d say 100 percent better. Like, as far as cleaning table tops, and everything like you said no residue. You don’t have to go back over it. You clean it once and it’s done, and like it I said, it has a smell to it. It has a clean smell to it.”

The green cleaning products also save money.

Jones said the initiative saved the district $120,000 in the first two years and the new water cleaning system has saved $150,000 over its first three years.

He said he believes that trend will continue, and he will keep trying to improve the safety and health of students, staff, and visitors.