Stellar Startups: Keeping clean, the eco-consciously way

Ecobuilding is the first full-service ecologically conscious home and office maintenance service in Israel.

By DAVID SHAMAH
March 23, 2010 23:12
4 minute read.
environmentalism 88

environmentalism 88. (photo credit: )

It’s amazing how much of a mess people make when they clean up: a mess of the environment, that is. Many of our favorite cleaning products consist of very powerful chemicals that end up in our water, food and bodies. And usually the better the product works, the more powerful the chemical!

It’s certainly a paradox, this polluting the environment in order to clean up our surroundings. But clean we must; bubonic plague and the common cold are always waiting in the wings, ready to pounce on an unsanitary society. If we want to be clean and healthy, we have to use products with strong chemicals to clean up. What choice do we have?

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Plenty, says Irit Tsach, head of marketing and business development at Israel’s Ecobuilding (http://www.ecobuilding.co.il/), the first full-service ecologically conscious home and office maintenance service in Israel. While many startups seize on an advanced, hi-tech principle to develop their product or service, Ecobuilding believes in turning the clock back, using principles of nature to keep modern homes, apartment buildings, offices and factories clean.

If eco-consciousness and keeping multistory buildings clean and healthful seems like an odd pairing, think again. Tsach says environmentalism and industrial-strength cleaning go hand in hand.

“For example,” she says, “one of the tasks we deal with is cleaning out the filters of air-conditioning units in large office buildings, a task most maintenance companies would use commercial chemical preparations for. But we don’t. Instead, we use a special combination of enzymes that ‘eats’ the bacteria in the vents, filters and units. Thus, we can keep the air in offices clean without leaving behind chemical residue for workers to breathe, making everyone healthier in the short and long run.”

In fact, all of the maintenance services Ecobuilding offers are similarly “green,” and Tsach says the results are as good, if not better, than they are with “traditional” chemical-based cleaning systems.

While some people may be skeptical – even citing personal experience that they couldn’t, for example, keep the roaches away without bug spray – Tsach says there are many natural alternatives to such preparations. Having researched and experimented the topic in depth, the Ecobuilding folks (Tsach and company CEO Moti Davidson) present clients with different strategies and cite statistics and evidence that show the “green way” is the better way.

“Keeping walls, floors, furniture and other features of homes and offices is often just a matter of using the right tools, brushes, cleaning materials, etc.,” says Tsach, adding that the firm doesn’t just throw water at a problem. “We try to save water wherever possible,” she says. “We work with the client, educating them on the most effective and environmentally safe way they can keep their place clean.”

As part of its educational efforts, Ecobuilding hosts on its Web site a shopping portal (http://tinyurl.com/ye4wfub) where customers can order for home use some of the same environmentally safe products the Ecobuilding staff uses in its maintenance activities. The portal features products, services, technologies, even artwork and toys – all using “green” ingredients and technology. (Among the products is a kids’ toy kitchen made out of 100 percent recycled materials).

The portal currently has about 150 advertisers, all of whom are listed for free, as a service to Israelis who want to live a more eco-friendly life.

“We check out all the advertisers as well as possible to ensure that they really are environmentally conscious,” Tsach says. “And we don’t take money from the advertisers because we want to make sure we focus on the good these products and companies can do, not how much they pay us.”

While there are other eco-portals, none of them offer free display ads to advertisers, she says, adding: “Sites might give a free one- or two-line listing, but if a business wants to get a bigger ad, they have to pay. The criteria is not how much good the product can do but how much they pay. We avoid that with our system.”

And most of the products on the Ecobuilding portal – as well as the products the company uses in its maintenance work – are actually made in Israel!

“There are several Israeli companies dedicated to manufacturing environmentally friendly cleaning products, and we work with those products and feature them in the shopping portal,” Tsach says. “We try to promote Israeli products wherever possible, and only if a product is not available in Israel will we import one from abroad.”

That the vast majority of products used by the company are actually made in Israel is an indication of how many Israelis really do value the environment, she says.

Ecobuilding cannot keep up with heavy demand for its maintenance services, Tsach says, and has been forced to turn down accounts, especially out of the Tel Aviv-Sharon area, “for practical reasons. We would very much like to expand to other areas, and eventually we will. There’s no reason that Israel can’t be clean while keeping the environment safe.”


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