When you start talking to people who really believe in green cleaning, you begin to realize how exciting it is to be a part of this conversation right now. And when you speak to Heidi Wilcox, TURI Lab Field Specialist with the Toxics Use Reduction Institute at UMass Lowell, you can’t help but get swept up in her energy, enthusiasm and passion for healthy cleaning — and all the data that she’s collecting to prove its importance.
Heidi is an engineer, microbiologist, chemist and field specialist with TURI. TURI is a Massachusetts state agency that works with businesses, government agencies and community organizations to reduce the use of toxic chemicals, protect public health and the environment and help Massachusetts businesses remain competitive. Heidi works in the Cleaning Laboratory, where she performs the testing that helps manufacturers achieve third-party certifications from standards like Ecologo and GreenSeal and advises companies on how to make less toxic products and become more sustainable. She’s also writing a dissertation and doing her own research on the role that process plays in cleaning’s effectiveness.
Show Her the Data
In addition to being an expert on the science behind cleaning chemicals and technology, Heidi is a huge believer in proper cleaning process. “I want to have real science that understands the reality of the industry,” she says. “People have called me an end user scientist. They know I have the science but they also know I see what’s happening in the reality of budget cuts, less time, less staff, and more space to clean.”
Heidi has been working Process Cleaning for Healthy Schools (PCHS) to collect data that shows the critical role that simple, repeatable cleaning processes have in healthier and more effective outcomes. “I believe cleaning for health, and especially for schools, takes two parts,” says Heidi. “First, it takes a repeatable process that’s easy so that every custodian in every school in every wing cleans the same. And then you need better products and equipment that are less toxic for indoor air quality and health.”
Heidi will be speaking on a panel about emerging technologies at the Green Clean Schools Leadership Summit in Seattle this July. She’s really looking forward to the summit — and with signature enthusiasm, she puts it best: “I am just a big believer in us all getting together in a room and saying what’s happening and asking how can we fix it. I want the entire community to get on the same message. We need to work with the regulations in the states and districts to hurry up and catch up with the industry because they’re doing such great work in coming up with less toxic alternatives.”
Heidi also participated in one of our webinars leading up to the Green Cleaning Summit. You can access the archives and register for our upcoming webinars here.