September 25, 2009

Mason launches 'green cleaning' initiative

From left: Mike Sheridan, Cory Mason, Brian Torner, Robert Israel,
Jane Finkenbine and Jeff Neubauer

A statewide "green cleaning" initiative was launched today by Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, at a press conference at Walden III school.

Mason introduced a "Green Cleaning for a Healthier Wisconsin" bill that would eventually require all state, county and municipal buildings to be cleaned with methods and products "that minimize adverse effects on human health and the environment." As part of the bill, the state Department of Health Services would adopt rules and standards for such products as restroom cleaners, hand soap, toilet paper and paper towels and vacuum cleaners.

Initially, the bill would adopt standards promulgated by such programs as Green Seal, Inc., TerraChoice Enviornmental Marketing, Inc., the Green Label Program of the Carpet and Rug Institute and the federal Environmental Protection Agency; when standards conflict the bill says DHS "shall give a preference to standards that are more protective of human health and prevention of the spread of infection and disease."

Mason, said the bill would "encourage healthier and more environmentally friendly cleaning in schools."

"Childrens' lungs are susceptible," he said, "and the students at Walden have decided being a leader in the environment is really part of their goal."

Robert Israel, vp of global environmental sustainability at JohnsonDiversey, noted that health problems caused by indoor air quality cost the U.S. more than $120 billion a year: "Asthma alone causes children to miss 14 million days of school each year." JohnsonDiversey launched a line of commercial indoor green cleaning products in 2003, "to save lives and preserve the earth." JohnsonDiversey partnered with Mason to develop the bill.

Brian Torner, a Walden biology teacher, said his students did a lab experiment last year and "found that green cleaning products work as well as others."

Jane Finkenbine, parent of two Walden students and president of the PTSA, agreed that "Walden is leading the way," and told how student-learned lessons carry on to the home: "We don't buy bottled water any more," she said.

State Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan, D-Janesville, said the legislation addresses "public health, environmental needs and our economy," and praised Mason as "one of our shining stars."

Sheridan, left, and Mason
examine JohnsonDiversey products

The press conference was held at Walden both because of its environmental awareness (see our stories about the school's rain garden and "green revolution" from this summer) and because of JohnsonDiversey's presence in Racine. Mason is a Walden graduate and said he would not be a public official if not for his experience with student government there.

Speakers were reluctant -- they outright refused -- to name any harmful cleaning products now on the market. When asked what they do use, Jeff Neubauer, president of Johnson distributor Kranz Inc., said, "Johnson-Diversey products," and Mason said "SCJ." Neubauer elaborated that schools and office buildings use "towels and tissues that require up to 35 million trees. We don't need to do that; recycled paper is available." He cited products made in Wisconsin by Wausau Paper Co.

When asked how to choose among products, to find those that are most environmentally sound, Israel said, "third-party certification," which is where Mason's bill begins.

Mason said one-third of Unified schools already use environmentally sound products; "Walden is at the epicenter and the state needs to provide some leadership for all public buildings." He urged everyone to think about what's on the janitor's cleaning cart: cleaning supplies, papers, vacuum.

Walden senior Rachel Pettit asked what enforcement was built into the bill. None, Mason said. "It's advisory; we're saying you need to do this. There are no penalties in the bill, no green police." But he said, "using the purchasing power of the state will change the way the market works."


  1. Have you ever seen a more liberal group than these goons?

  2. Where was the other green companies. Oh I forgot, Mason is bought and paid for by Johnson.

  3. The Translator9/25/2009 1:24 PM

    Hey Cory, Why not do something for the people who elected you instead of the people who line your donation box. All the issues with this area, and this is the best you have? How about cutting taxes or stimulating jobs. How about killing the KRM and unfunded mandates that strap local units of government. Crime prevention or education? Nope, according to you we need a Green Cleaning products initative, cause the family company says so. You are making it so easy to defeat you next election. Keep up the good work.

  4. Isn't Pacific Sands, a 100% green cleaning products company, based out of Racine? Why are they not there?

  5. Tom Tom The Farmers son9/25/2009 1:52 PM

    Why is Mason not called out for not making the commitments he has, such as the redevelopment committee meetings?

    Good ? 1@6 I understand they make in RACINE Green Cleaning products. Might it be that out masters want no competition

  6. John, that was the company I was thinking of.

    Guess they need to donate to Mason first

  7. Once again a mandate...

    Cory, who is going to pay for the increased cost?"

  8. Increased cost? That's so old school. It doesn't cost any more to do what's right (green cleaning).

  9. I am upset that comments like these go unregulated. If you were at the press conference then you would have learned that this is a Bill, which means much more research and discussion will take place before implementation. It does not include or exclude any specific companies. Many green initiatives are taking place, and many more jobs will be created with this new industry.Nor is it remotely linked to the KRM, or any other of your specific beefs.

  10. I have a issue with The job Killer Mason

  11. 6:19

    Do not worry soon Obama will make illegal any thought or writing he does not like.

  12. I'm sure that bill does mean more research and discussion (R&D?) - this will allow a few million more in consulting fees to be drained off by buddies. The current winner is the $81 million state computer system that was anywhere from seven to nine-fold over budget, depending on who you read. The fine print showed that FOUR consultants received over FIFTEEN MILLION DOLLARS to "tell the state how to save money".

  13. Anon 6:19PM/Mason Staffer- If this initiative does not include nor exclude companies than why were other companies not included, especially when there is another Racine company that is more extensively in this industry. Maybe if Cory actually lived in Racine he would know this. However, when you are sleeping in a bed in Madison every night then it is hard to keep up on what is happening in Racine.

    Another news flash, unemployment is almost 20%.

  14. 6:19 - I hope you're not talking about Pete's daughter.

  15. Sorry - I meant John @8:41 talking about anon @6:19

  16. Prince of Wales9/26/2009 7:07 PM


    Yes, I understand that Sands may be helping a project get started that will bring the Greenest of Green jobs to the City.
    Guess Mason would not know about that either.

  17. Unified may be failing, but it will be clean.

  18. Racine Green Mind9/28/2009 8:38 AM

    Pacific Sands makes household cleaning products. Municipal buildings and schools require commercial/industrial products. Either way, the bill does not specify any particular brand of products; it simply asks for products to be free of a list of harmful ingredients.

  19. How mighty WHITE Cory!!!! Just look at the picture it tells the story of where Racine is. Cory just keep on playing this racial divide game and you are going to find yourself out of a job and you can take that to the bank!!!!

  20. All these people getting the piece of the pie in the name of "GOING GREEN" another scam derived from"GLOBAL WARMING" Look at gore and the miilion's he is making from this. The people are paying for this without realizing what is going on until its to late. Liberals are shoveing every single conniving idea they can think of while they are in power. So sad for the future genrations, as they are the one that are truly going to pay for these asinine ideas and beliefs.

  21. This is great news!! It is so important and I am 100% behind green schools.