As the saying goes, home is where the heart is and healthcare has an equal place in making our ‘home’ earth, a happy place for everyone.
Exploring healthcare at a personal level points us to the nasty bugs circulating at home and work with cleanliness being top-of-mind for those trying to avoid coughs and colds. A helicopter view on healthcare, however, forces us to consider the impacts of consumerism and how this shapes both the environment and the overall wellbeing of people.
So what does the future of healthcare look like and how does this impact the business of cleaning? I believe there’s a strong crossover between healthcare and environmental standards. International trends also support a growing belief that sustainability is about more than just the environment; social and ethical issues are becoming increasingly important.
An evident symbiosis has always existed between environmental and social issues, and by default lower environmental impacts affect human health in an extremely positive way. By their very nature, environmental standards work in favour of human health by eliminating human exposure to harmful ingredients.
For the cleaning industry this is noticeable at both ends of a product’s life-cycle, with exposure to chemicals at the manufacturing stage and subsequently as finished cleaning products when they are used at home or in public places.
In the past, eco-friendly cleaning products have held a bad reputation for being ineffective, but innovation has resulted in better choices for consumers who want products that are genuinely eco-friendly but also get the job done.
ECNZ has taken a lead in this space developing specifications that ensure licensees face a stringent verification process that set their products apart as environmentally preferable and fit for purpose. In addition to this, customers are guided on safe and best use for products.
Local indicators show that people are thinking beyond the environment and into the social space of corporate good. The development of apps of such as CoGo (Connecting Good) which guide consumers to businesses that adopt sustainable practices and have products that respect people and the planet is a prime example of these shifting times.
Given the close relationship between environmental and social measures, we’re also considering including specific social criteria (which is still being defined) in all our existing specifications. This involves highlighting where we are already addressing social and human health issues as part of an environmental criteria, something that has come to the fore as an important flag for our licensees to wave to their customers.
Can you think of environment and social issues within your supply chain that directly impact health? There’s plenty to consider when looking at a product’s life-cycle and this emerging trend will definitely influence the way business is conducted in the cleaning industry.
It’s clear that consumers are fiercely compassionate and recent protest action from Kiwi youth shows a desire to see greater action and change to protect our home – the planet.
The industry should keep its finger on the pulse by considering social and healthcare issues in product development and use, especially as consumers increasingly seek products that bring benefits today and for the future.
Five questions to ask to increase healthcare
- Do the products you’re using follow best environment and social practice?
- Are products being used correctly? Communicating best use is key!
- Is this job for a microfibre cloth? Sometimes this is more than enough.
- Are there any alternative cleaning solutions?
- Can I minimise chemical use for safer product exposure? Try diluting and not overusing chemicals.
*Francesca Lipscombe is the general manager of the New Zealand Ecolabelling Trust which administers the Environmental Choice New Zealand ecolabel on behalf of the New Zealand Government
This first appeared in the August issue of INCLEAN NZ magazine
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