The Year in Review and Ahead

By Arthur Weissman, Ph.D, Green Seal President/CEO

In the more northern climates, at least, we typically experience a riot of color in the autumn before the vegetative world quiets down for the winter.  My staff and I mirrored this burst of activity with a busy fall travel schedule, visiting clients and partners and appearing at conferences and tradeshows.  As the calendar year winds down and allows a moment of reflection, I’d like to review what we have achieved over the past year, usually with the participation of clients and partners, as well as what lies ahead.

In our flagship program, certification based on standards we develop, we started the year by issuing a new standard for laundry-care products (GS-48/51, consumer/institutional).  This is a new industry sector for Green Seal and so required new outreach and education, and applications for certification have started coming in.  We also revised all of our existing standards in terms of the “basis statement” for certification that appears with the certification mark to ensure that the statement is as precise and clear as possible in order to conform with the revised Green Guides of the Federal Trade Commission.

Meanwhile, our tally of certified products and services is nearing 4000.  We completed implementing recommendations from a program evaluation we conducted internally, resulting in improved and more efficient certification procedures, such as the streamlined private label process we rolled out.  Now we are looking at our monitoring program to see how we can make that more effective and efficient for our clients and ourselves.

Green Seal has continued to improve its outreach, education, and publicity for the cause.  Staff presented at numerous conferences; two of note included a Canadian conference on microbially-based cleaning products, where Green Seal’s research and criteria in this area were highlighted; and green cleaning demonstrations provided to the Port Authority at Newark Airport (NJ) as well as to public schools in Maryland.  We launched this blog in June and strengthened our overall social media presence in order to connect better with clients, partners, and the public.

Partnerships continue to play an important role in our work, and we strengthened some key ones during 2013.  Green Seal received Whole Foods’ Supplier Award for Partnership for helping the retailer rate the sustainability of household cleaners its sells. Through a trip to Los Angeles in October, I reaffirmed and revitalized our partnership with the City of LA and its Tourism Board to promote green lodging through certification, and we met with our team leader in the LA Green Business Program, the LA Community College, to discuss implementation of the next phase of this program.

Closer to home, we continue to coordinate with the Building Wellness Institute in Maryland on their excellent training program in green cleaning, which leads a number of participants to apply for certification under our standard for cleaning services, GS-42. We also formalized our membership in The Sustainability Consortium, where retailers, suppliers, and researchers are trying to develop criteria for putting greener products on shelves; and in the Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council, an outgrowth of the Green Products Roundtable we have been part of, that is promoting green procurement practices. Green Seal recently participated in force at the annual tradeshow for the cleaning industry, ISSA Interclean in Las Vegas, where we had the pleasure of meeting with many of our clients and hearing their thoughts on trends in the industry and the value of our program.

No non-profit organization these days can be complacent about its governance, and the Green Seal Board of Directors put in place several important good-governance practices at its annual meeting in June. These included strict term limits, new oversight committees, greater involvement in strategic planning, more frequent meetings, and more communication with me.

Green Seal looks ahead to 2014 with optimism. After all, this is our twenty-fifth year! 

We will, in fact, hold a 25th Anniversary Gala on Wednesday, October 8, at the Newseum in Washington, D.C.  We look forward to seeing many of our clients, partners, and friends there to celebrate all of the work we have done together over the past quarter-century to make the economy and the world more sustainable