Bellingham is an environmentalist haven. With the combination of a pristine environment surrounding the city and an active community interest in maintaining it, sometimes we can take it for granted that Bellingham is and will remain clean and beautiful.

Bellingham residents might be surprised to learn that the little things we all do every day can have an enormous negative impact on the environment.

To help students and community members learn more about what we can do on a day-to-day basis, Western’s Academic Custodial Services Department is bringing an expert on green cleaning products to speak on campus this Tuesday, May 24.

Roger McFadden, a nationally recognized leader in the fields of green cleaning products and ecological sustainability, is speaking from 3-4 p.m. in Fraser Hall 3.

McFadden is the senior chemist and vice president of Technical Services for Coastwide Laboratories, which is headquartered in Wilsonville, Oregon. McFadden earned his chops in the political world as a member of former Oregon Governor John Kitzhauber’s Community Sustainable Council. He also served as chair of the Cleaning and Coating Workgroup.

Coastwide Laboratories has recently introduced a line of green cleaning products for commercial and institutional use. The line is called “Sustainable Earth,” and is tested rigorously with three sets of criteria, including a “green cleaning score card” and the Indiana Relative Chemical Hazard Score.

McFadden said that there is no set standard as of yet for green cleaning products that consistently tests the health, safety, and environmental claims of the product.

McFadden said that Coastwide Laboratories had to create their current rating system, which applies a bronze, silver, or gold seal to the tested product. Gold products clean as well or better than the current products on the market, a huge step in the green cleaning world.

There are currently six commercial products available, including a general purpose cleaner, a glass cleaner, bathroom tub and tile cleaner, toilet cleaner, odor eliminator, and carpet cleaner. Coastwide Laboratories plans to add twelve more products to this lineup by the end of the year.

These products would help cut back on the harmful chemicals from traditional household cleaners that wash into a community’s environment, particularly its water supply.

While we are not always aware of it, a significant amount of overall pollution comes from non-point sources like households and small businesses. Nationally, non-point source pollution is the leading source of water quality degradation. In fact, 40 percent of the nation’s rivers, lakes, and estuaries as so polluted that they are not safe for basic use like fishing and swimming.

This is an issue of particular interest for Bellingham residents, since our drinking water comes from Lake Whatcom. While other cities have designated reservoirs, Bellingham and the surrounding area use Lake Whatcom as the sole potable-water source for its 87,000 people.

Lake Whatcom is one of the few drinking water reservoir-lakes nationally which allows urban development to line its shores, power boats to motor on it, and human chemical and toxic waste to be put in it.

By cutting back on the use of household cleaners, and utilizing more green-friendly products, McFadden hopes to make the environment in general a cleaner, greener place.

McFadden will speak this Tuesday, May 24 from 3-4 p.m. in Fraser Hall 3. The talk is free and open to the public.