When Greg Macchia of Boulder told his wife, Courtney, that he was going to start a cleaning business, she laughed.
As you might guess, Macchia was not noted for his domestic housekeeping.
But an MBA and a canny eye for business told him he could fulfill his dream of business ownership by filling a gap in the Colorado service industry.
“It was a running joke with my friends that they couldn’t keep a good house cleaner or find a reliable plumber,” Macchia says. “Which gave me the idea to have a steady service business, something not seasonal. No one seemed to specialize in a cleaning service using eco-friendly products for chemically sensitive or allergic clients.” So Macchia kicked off Clean Conscience three and a half years ago, happy that it wasn’t a very “capital-intensive” start-up. He relied heavily on the Eco-Products line then, and now mostly uses products manufactured by the PortionPac Chemical Company, which since 1964 has produced pre-measured, concentrated detergents formulated for worker safety.
“When possible, I would recommend buying products in concentrate formulas that require adding water at home,” he says. “These ready-to-use products are mostly water, anyway, that they have been shipping around the country, and when it is empty they recommend that you discard the spray bottle even though it still works fine.” It also took study and experimentation to come up with methods that would clean and disinfect without endangering the environment — or his clients.
“Keep in mind, though, that in order to kill germs you are going to have to use a product that kills living organisms,” he says. “So it is important to use the right product for the right application in the right amounts. I would also mention that you have to be careful with thinking that ‘all natural’ translates into something that is always safe. There are plenty of things that are all natural that I wouldn’t want to get in my eyes or to have end up in my drinking water.”
Word of mouth expanded his initial wait list, and today Macchia supervises six employees and conducts business all over Boulder County.
With success came a desire to give back. Macchia’s mother and sister are cancer survivors, which inspired him to become a local chapter member of the Cleaning for a Reason Foundation.
Started in 2006, this national nonprofit organization matches women undergoing cancer treatment with participating local companies such as Clean Conscience.
“If you’re undergoing chemo, there’s not a lot of energy for housekeeping,” says Macchia. “We can offer up to four free cleaning visits per client for up to four months. We can accommodate as many as four women at a time, and we’ve only got a couple right now. So, if anyone in Boulder County interested, I recommend applying through the foundation.”
If you’re interested in what other eco-friendly cleaning products and services are available, check out Green Seal, an independent, nonprofit green consumer organization.