Commons Buys Chemical-Free Cleaner

Commons is rolling out another sustainable initiative: new, chemical-free cleaning products called Ionators. Commons purchased a number of Ionators three weeks ago after discovering the technology while attending an Aramark convention. “It fits right into our sustainability efforts and Phillips Academy’s goals,” Mike Giampa, Operations Manager, said. “The cleaning is chemical-free, and it’s harmless to the environment, so we thought it was something that we should definitely do over here.” The Ionators electronically charge and ionize tap water. The water is evenly distributed over the surface of tables, chairs and work areas, because ionized water effectively removes 99% of all bacteria. Giampa said, “We got them as soon as they became available, since it was something that we definitely wanted to do.” Commons switched cleaning systems in order to reduce energy consumption and cost. Giampa said that the dining hall previously used a cleaning process that included chemical sanitizers. “[The chemical sanitizers] had to be made in a factory, packaged, and shipped over here, all affecting the carbon footprint. Now we don’t have to use [that system] anymore. It’s a win-win situation,” said Giampa. “I think [the cleaners] have been doing wonderfully. The tables appear to look a lot cleaner, so the Ionators really do work,” he said. “The units cost some money, but we expect for that to pay for itself. We don’t have to buy any more chemicals, so they should pay for themselves in about a year or two.” Commons hopes to continue improving the sustainability of its cleaning systems through the purchase of an Ionator carpet and floor cleaner. “It’s definitely our goal to be completely chemical-free as far as cleaning hard surfaces go,” said Giampa. Giampa said that there might be a possibility of an entirely chemical-free dining hall, but the installment of a chemical-free system for cleaning dishes would prove difficult. Commons has also looked to increase student participation in its sustainability efforts. Last week, students signed pacts to help decrease wasted food consumption. The school-led initiative included a vegetable display and also focused on educating students about portion sizes and healthy eating. “Hopefully, if you get people to look at food waste and sign something then they’re buying into the idea of not wasting food,” said Giampa. “We’re just trying to put information out there and ask students to try to reduce what they waste, as well as take what they eat and eat what they take,” he continued. Giampa said that the awareness campaign succeeded in educating hundreds of students who signed the pact to reduce food waste. Danny Gottfried ’12 said, “Commons is doing a very good job in making our campus more sustainable. I feel like the school has gone to great lengths since my freshman year in sustainability, so I’m very happy about the progress we’ve made.”