Coke and Pop Rocks can kill. Elvis is coming back. And green cleaning a restaurant is burdensome, expensive and less effective than the traditional toxic approach. I cringe each time I hear this. The green cleaning myth, that is. Elvis, I’m not so sure. He may indeed be alive and well and living in Las Vegas.
But, when it comes to green cleaning restaurants, there are many quick, simple, environmentally preferable procedures that save money and improve cleaning. Immediately.
Here are 10 easy and effective ways to improve green cleaning at your restaurant:
Bleach is the restaurant world’s Number 1 enemy to worker health and the environment. Operators should replace bleach with safer and more effective alternatives such as Quats (quaternary ammonium compounds) or, even better, sanitizers made from on-site Electro-Chemical Activation devices using only salt, water and small doses of electricity. They can be produced for less than a penny a gallon!
Our restaurant clients cut their chemical usage by at least 40% the minute they install dosing machines. That’s a large and immediate reduction in use, disposal and toxic exposure to staff. The biggest difference we can make environmentally is to reduce our consumption.
Tell your supplier you want to use fewer overall products and that you prefer super concentrates whenever possible. For instance, a neutral pH, “digestive” floor cleaner can be used on all flooring in the back and front of the house. Also, always remember to ask for reduced packaging options.
Some of the most toxic chemicals in any restaurant kitchen are found in commercial oven cleaners. Replace your standard chemicals with greener ones immediately. Make sure to compare dilution ratios to get the proper RTU (ready to use) cost for a fair comparison. The truth is you can clean ovens with products as natural as baking soda, borax, water and a little elbow grease.
Many restaurant associations and cleaning suppliers offer free programs to analyze chemical use, identify problem areas, and suggest green alternatives. Our “Environmental Calculator” quickly determines specific pollutant and toxic savings by making the switch to each green cleaner we sell.
Overuse or improper use of cleaning compounds can lead to massive waste and wasted savings. Ask your chemical supplier to spend a few hours with your staff on a regular basis to make sure employees are using the right cleaners the right way. Also, request they stop by regularly to check the equipment before problems arise. The visits will improve practices, reduce expenses and aid the environment.
Install automatic meter pumps that can dose bacteria/enzyme-based drain treatments for grease traps. Use similar microbial floor mopping solutions that digest grease, waste and odors naturally, while augmenting your wastewater treatment with every mop.
Sometimes it’s as easy as keeping the windows open. Enhance ventilation in the front and back of house operations. Reduce or eliminate harsh chemicals. Install natural, automatic air ionizers in public areas. Also, put air-cleaning plants in as many places as possible.
Foaming soaps last up to eight times as long as their liquid counterparts, a huge benefit to budgets and the environment. Eliminate hand sanitizers or “anti-microbial” hand soaps that contain isopropanol, triclosan or benzyl alcohol, which are unnecessary, drying to the skin and absorbed into our bodies. Simple soap will do just fine.
Highly reusable microfiber rags can hold much more water and do many cleaning jobs using fewer chemicals. Your staff will be amazed if they haven’t used them before. Your accountants will be amazed, too, after seeing reductions in chemical costs and paper towel supplies.
First published in www.runningrestaurants.com