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Impacts of the Trump Administration on the Green Cleaning Movement

From our June 2017 Issue DestinationGreen Newsletter

It seems wherever I travel, people ask me how actions by the Trump Administration will impact the Green Cleaning movements. In short, I think it will have little effect. That’s right, little if any effect.

Having worked on the issue of Green Cleaning for more than 25 years, I have been through a number of changes in Administrations. I have watched the Green Cleaning movement mature and am of the opinion that if these actions (i.e. cutting the EPA budget) had happened 10 or 15 years ago, it would have crippled our efforts, but not today.

Particularly in the 1990s, we relied heavily on the federal government to create the initial demand for Green cleaning products. But today, Green initiatives have taken on a life of its own. It is not only supported by some of the leading companies and organizations in our country but has become a part of their business culture – this means a focus on protecting the health and the environment is part of who they are.

A perfect example of this took place earlier this month when numerous companies signed letters to President Trump opposing withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord. This includes some big-name companies such as Apple, Google, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sacks, Adobe, and Microsoft; as well as leaders of energy giants Exxon Mobile, Shell Oil, and ConocoPhillips all said they opposed this move.

However interestingly, some of their CEO’s have shared their belief that President Trump’s actions may actually encourage more companies and organizations to implement environmental initiatives even faster.

“You see groups of mayors, states, the business community, [and] civil society accelerating its pace of implementation,” said Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever. “Seeing this enormous outcry I come to the conclusion that [Trump] might have done us a favor; that we’re moving faster now than we otherwise might have been.”

Please know that I am not trying to be critical of the President’s decision. I am pointing this out because if you are interested in selling cleaning products and services to companies such as those mentioned above, which are actively supporting Green and environmental issues,   you should be aware of what their chief executives are saying. These organizations want to fulfill their leader’s public pronouncements, and Green Cleaning is an excellent example of how they are accomplishing this.

Furthermore, in addition to understanding which of your customers and prospects are interested in Green issues, it is also important to understand how your competitors might respond. If you allow me to use a sports analogy – to win, we have to play both offense and defense.

To this point, cleaning product manufacturers have invested heavily in innovative Green products. From researching and developing the products; conducting performance, health, environmental and other tests; paying for third-party certifications; creating new labels as well as other marketing materials; training sales and customer service people; building inventories and more. With such a significant investment, it’s hard to imagine them writing all of this off. And the same goes for their distributors and service providers.

While I believe that a few may decide to give up their “Green” customers., I believe these customers will find plenty of companies and other people – competitors – lining up to take the business.

So whatever your views are on what is happening with the new Administration, know that I respect your opinion. But I want to provide some advice for all members of our industry: the end-customers we serve are continuing on their Green journey. This is where the money is flowing and is the future of our industry, regardless of the actions of our federal government.

And for those who are in parts of the country where there are no major business as mentioned above or have not yet seen demand yet for Green products, please consider being the leader. These products not only reward manufacturers for going the extra mile to make sure their products are safer but provide another degree of safety for our product users and other vulnerable building occupants. In the end, whether it is based on demand from customers or differentiating from the competition, Green Cleaning products and services truly are the future.

Steve Ashkin

 

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