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|Spread cheer - not germs - in the office this Christmas||11/12/2018|
While Christmas is traditionally a time of joy, the combination of cold temperatures with a steady flurry of social events, can create the perfect environment for winter illnesses. Figures for 2017 show the average number of sick days taken has almost halved since 1993 in the UK, meaning many employees are choosing to ignore their sniffles in order to get to the office. This can create an environment for germs to spread, unless key hygiene steps are followed.
What’s brewing this Christmas?
As temperatures plummet, employees will likely be making more trips to the kettle, but it’s these tea runs where germs could easily spread. Initial Washroom Hygiene’s survey of 1,000 office workers found that only 33% of people wash mugs before making a cup of tea for colleagues and 80% admitted they don’t wash their hands prior to preparing a brew. When we swabbed the boxes where office tea bags are kept we found extraordinarily high levels of bacteria – an average 17 times higher than the average toilet seat.
Encouraging more hygienic employee behaviour such as washing hands, cleaning mugs between tea rounds and wiping down tea-making equipment, can help overcome any potential contamination. Facilities managers should equip offices with soap and sanitisers as well as displaying helpful hand washing reminders around the office.
Guilt (and germ)-free indulgence
Research has shown that most people eat their lunch at their desk at least three times a week, and at this time of year festive nibbles are almost certain to end up on employees’ desks. Handwashing before eating or snacking is vital, as 80% of all illnesses are transmitted by touch. Despite this, Initial research revealed that 74% of people don’t wash their hands before snacking.
Deploying hand sanitisers throughout the office could help employees form a barrier against microbes and will also promote a more proactive approach to hand hygiene.
Tricks of the trade
It’s the role of the office manager to ensure that regular office cleaning takes place and that a deep clean is undertaken (we would recommend twice yearly). Ensuring good quality infection control procedures are in place is worth investing time and money in, as it can help to prevent or reduce any illness amongst staff.
One secret weapon to quickly and effectively clean the office – is Ultra Low Volume (ULV) fogging. This technique is especially useful in the event of an outbreak as it enables the treatment of large areas in a short space of time by generating a mist formed of tiny droplets of disinfectant, measuring 5-50 microns in diameter. Carried out by trained specialists, ULV fogging significantly reduces the number of potentially harmful pathogens and ensures those hard-to-reach areas that manual cleaning might miss are treated. The fogging technique can also include a disinfectant with ‘Reactive Barrier Technology’ to keep areas sanitised for extended periods of time. Considering deep cleaning techniques like ULV fogging alongside routine cleaning procedures could be essential in keeping your office full of cheer and not germs this Christmas.
With a small investment, office managers can ensure they’re putting the needs of their employees first by tackling the spread of bacteria and viruses this festive season. Tackling these hygiene risks by employing the necessary tactics to prevent them will go a long way to ensuring a very Merry Christmas for everyone in the office!
Jamie Woodhall, UK technical & innovation manager, Initial Washroom Hygiene
|Create a more inviting business premises through professional pressure cleaning||10/09/2018|
Customers and other stakeholders both love businesses with an aesthetically smart and inviting appearance. Much like the way you dress for an important meeting, the way you present your business premises will set a lasting impression among customers, stakeholders and community members. Pressure cleaning provides an effective and responsible way of creating an inviting business premises.
Constantly exposed to harsh elements and unwanted contaminants, your building’s outdoor surfaces degrade, discolour and oxidise over time. Bricks become stained, driveways suffer from oil spills and natural pollutants, and unwanted graffiti can appear on brickwork and concrete. As a business owner, there are a number of professional high-pressure cleaning solutions available to you.
Your brickwork collects a number of unwanted contaminants, such as dirt, grime and moss, creating a need to clean your bricks periodically. Pressure washing is one of the most widely-used brick cleaning methods. Using the latest in pressure cleaning technology, professionals are able to remove unwanted contaminants by blasting them away, while leaving brickwork undamaged.
Concrete Cleaning & Sealing
Many business premises are surrounded by paved footpaths and driveways. Atmospheric pollutants as well as oils cause concrete surfaces to discolour and stain over time. Concrete cleaning professionals use a pressure washer that resembles a robotic vacuum cleaner to blast away dirt, stains and even oils. Once your concrete is cleaned, you may opt to have it sealed as well. By sealing your concrete, you will be blocking its pores and preventing oils and other contaminants from breaking through. This prolongs the life of your concrete and makes cleaning easier in the future.
While some graffiti, such as permitted artwork can be viewed positively, unsolicited graffiti often has negative effect on both businesses and communities. Furthermore, graffiti becomes tougher to remove the longer it’s left to settle. Therefore, as a business owner, you need to act quickly to remove unwanted graffiti. While cleaning methods involving harsh chemicals can damage underlying surfaces, pressure cleaning gets rid of graffiti without affecting your outdoor surface.
Benefits of Pressure Cleaning Over Other Methods
One of the major benefits of pressure cleaning that you would have picked up on throughout this article so far, is that pressure cleaning is an excellent cleaning method that will help you avoid causing damage to underlying brickwork or concrete. There are two other great benefits that you can reap by opting for pressure cleaning as well: efficient energy use; and, being environmentally friendly.
Pressure cleaning is more energy efficient than other cleaning methods, including using a garden hose. Using a pressure washer, you can use up to 75% less energy. This is due to the velocity that a pressure cleaning machine releases water at. Each drop of water is much more effective at removing dirt than that of a hose due to the pressure it is released at. Furthermore, pressure cleaning professionals are able to adjust the PSI that their machines are set to. Adjustments are made depending on what needs to be cleaned and what kind of surface is being cleaned.
Some heavy-duty cleaning companies use harmful chemicals i.e. acid wash to get rid of brick stains and even graffiti. Pressure washing companies have the option of using eco-friendly biodegradable detergents that won’t damage the environment. By opting for eco-friendly products, not only will you be causing less damage to the environment, but you will be seen as a responsible community member as well.
|5 ways blocked guttering could be damaging your business premises||03/05/2018|
Maintenance of the exterior of your building premises is just as important as the interior, unfortunately the guttering is often neglected which is a big mistake, as gutters which become blocked can cause serious issues resulting in expensive repairs.
The number one problem caused by blocked guttering is water damage, when it rains the water needs somewhere to go and blockages lead to standing water which seeps into the building causing unsightly damp patches on interior walls and damage to exterior brickwork. Over a period of time, even the foundations of your premises can become saturated resulting in difficult and costly repairs.
Another problem with the accumulation of debris in your gutters is it attracts pests, birds, insects, wasps even mice are all attracted to the possible hiding places among leaves and moss in guttering. Mice are excellent climbers and can access the interior of your building via gaps in the soffits, facias and eaves where they can do a lot of damage. And an abundance of insects flying around the premises is not great if you have clients and customers visiting.
Your gutters keep water away from the facias and soffits which if they are made of wood will suffer greatly from the water damage due to blockages. Rotting wood on the exterior of your business premises doesn’t create a good first impression neither does a deluge of water pouring from the roof because it has nowhere else to go or weeds growing in the gutters. Excess water can also cause the soil under drives and pathways to expand which can develop cracks and fissures
If your gutters are not doing the job they are designed for it means water is falling in places it shouldn’t, onto the walkways and pavements below this can lead to the ground becoming slippery especially during the winter months resulting in a potential hazard for both staff and visitors.
Too much weight
Gutters are only held up with screws and brackets making them unable to bear much weight therefore an accumulation of sodden debris will cause them to break. This will not only result in costly repairs but could also present a danger to people walking underneath. To prevent this your business premises should have the guttering cleaned regularly at least once a year.
Do you check your gutters and downspouts at work? If not, you could be throwing money down the drain and looking at the possibility of your commercial insurance policy being void. Maintenance of your guttering is essential and could save a lot of money in the long run.
Written by Robert Findley, owner of commercial gutter cleaning company Polished Plastics
|Fighting the Fatbergs||20/02/2018|
Anyone who saw the stories about the ‘monster fatberg’ in Whitechapel at the end of last year won’t soon forget about it.
Weighing an estimated 130 tonnes and stretching further than the length of Tower Bridge, the behemoth lump (due to be displayed at the Museum of London later this year) took a team of eight workers over three weeks to clear.
It was precisely this lump that sprang into my mind a couple of weeks ago, when my own plumbing backed up. Admittedly, the sink had been draining more slowly for some time, but that didn’t make it any less alarming on the evening when the water from the washing machine decided that its most convenient exit from the system was via the kitchen sink.
Having checked the washing machine filter and inspected the U-bends, we eventually called for professional help. Thankfully our dilemma was caused by poorly installed pipes and several years of build-up (letting me figuratively wash my hands of responsibility as we only moved in last year). However, it certainly had got me thinking of all the things we absent-mindedly tip down the sink or flush down the toilet without considering the possible consequences. After all, the infamous fatbergs of London – described as “repulsively human” – are caused simply by the build up of mis-handled kitchen and bathroom debris.
Having spoken to an engineer from MTS Cleansing Services, about some of the common culprits of drain blockage, author Mike James learned the main culprits are:
No surprises; Oil fat and grease are the main culprits behind domestic blockages. It might look like a liquid when you pour it away, but fatty deposits quickly solidify into a sticky clump inside your pipes. Even households that are conscientious about fats don’t always consider that cooking oil, salad dressings, cream, milk and ice cream can all have the same effect.
Pasta, rice and potatoes are another big problem. These starchy foods tend to expand in water, before coagulating into a mushy goo. Even allowing small scraps to go down the sink can build up into a pretty unpleasant blockage.
Apparently, coffee granules are also a major offender when it comes to backed-up pipes. Instead of tipping the clump at the bottom of your cafetiere down the drain, next time be sure to scoop it into the bin or, even better, add it to a compost heap.
Bathroom products are more commonly the source of drainage issues, either within the home or further along the sewer network.
If you followed the ‘fatberg’ story, you’ll already know that wet wipes cause problems for plumbers all over the country. Just because they’re moist and you use them in the bathroom, it doesn’t mean that you can dispose of them in the toilet! They don’t disintegrate and will only add to the bulk of solid sewage.
The same goes for similar cleansing products like make-up wipes, cotton balls and cotton buds. These are all designed to absorb moisture, meaning that they’re likely to swell up and get stuck.
Feminine hygiene products are another big problem. While most women know they need to put a pad in the bin, around 40 per cent think it’s okay to flush their tampons, which simply isn't the case. Like condoms (another culprit of drain blockages), tampons won’t degrade in water, so even if you have a private septic tank, you need to dispose of them in the bin.
The verdict is somewhat mixed on whether it’s appropriate to flush pet waste down the toilet, due to the harmful bacteria it potentially contains being spread around the water system and infecting marine life. Even if this is not a problem from a blockage perspective, under no circumstances should you try to flush cat litter, as it swells in water and will absolutely clog up the drainage network.
Basically, think twice before tipping anything down a drain or toilet. Even if it’s liquid, or its packaging claims that the product is flushable, it doesn’t mean that the sewer network can handle it. You might think that once your waste is off of your property it’s no longer your problem, but it actually results in everyone paying more to their local water supplier. Ignoring the issue not only costs you money, but makes it more likely that your sewage will one day come back up your drains to haunt you!
Mike James is a UK based writer and contributor to Cleaning Matters. Mike spoke to MTS Cleansing for some of the information about the Fatberg issues concerning London's sewers for this piece.
|Cleaning your office after a renovation||08/02/2018|
One of the most important parts of an office renovation is getting your working environment back to its comfortable, professional feel which makes it a great place for both those that work there and any clients who may visit.
This means getting rid of paint smells, finding the right decor and getting back to business as soon as possible. In this article the experts at Cleanipedia, an online resource for housekeeping and cleaning tips, explain how to get your office back to normal after that all important refresh.
Having an office renovation is a great time to have a clear out. Organise your paperwork and get rid of any unnecessary items around the office. If it doesn’t have a home it probably doesn’t need to be in your office in the first place!
Be Sure Not to Miss Anything
A soft rag with a small amount of disinfectant is a great way to clean your electronics. Also, keyboard keys, vents and fans are dust traps so making sure you use a duster to clean them out after an office renovation.
Purchase Some Air Freshener
After having a renovation in your office space there is bound to leave some less than pleasant smells hanging about the place. Knowing how to get rid of paint smell and other lingering smells is not as hard as you might think. Simply opening a few windows and bringing in some air freshener from sprays to reed diffusers will make all the difference.
Invest in Some New Furniture
A fresh, new environment to work in deserves some brand new furniture to boot. Bringing in some light wooden furniture and open storage is a great way to give your newly renovated office a new lease of life and fresh feel to it.
Disinfect the Bathrooms
Somewhere that everyone is bound to end up at some point during the time that they spend in your office is the toilet, after all everyone needs to answer nature’s call at some point. When they do, having clean, fresh bathrooms makes it a much nicer experience!
Consider Hiring a Professional Cleaner
As much fun as cleaning around the office yourself can be, it can be quite time consuming. Sometimes the best thing is to call in a professional cleaner, and get them to clean out all the nooks and crannies when the renovations are over.
|Cleaning your office before the Christmas period||13/12/2017|
Before going away for the Christmas break, businesses often give their offices a deep clean, so that when the New Year comes, they are greeted with a clean, tidy and organised office.
For an effective clean, here are some top tips:
Give desks a deep clean
Keeping a clean and tidy office can help to reduce the likelihood of disease and infections spreading and contributes towards good hygiene practices.
The average desk is a prime breeding ground for infections and can have up to 10,000,000 of bacteria. Bacteria and viruses can multiply on hard surfaces, remaining infectious for up to 24 hours. So before offices are closed, it is important that this is wiped thoroughly.
Using a dry paper towel to wipe your desk is not enough as this simply will move germs around. It is best to wet a tissue or paper towel with a gentle disinfectant to eliminate germs and bacteria lingering on desks.
Other office equipment such as phones also need to be cleaned. Although this may look dirt free, studies have found as many as 25,000 germs per square inch on an office telephone. Many workers tend to forget about cleaning their phones despite using them regularly!
Anti-bacterial wipes are great for cleaning office equipment. The combination of chemicals and natural oils make them ideal for killing – or at least reducing – the number of harmful germs and bacteria on work surfaces and equipment.
Emptying food in the fridge is often overlooked. Nothing should be in the refrigerator past its expiration date. Take out all of the shelves and clean in hot soapy water, then dry with a disposable cloth or leave to air dry.
The next stage is to spray the inside of the fridge with a detergent and wipe down. Don’t forget to use an anti-bacterial detergent to disinfect door handles and door seals since these come into regular contact with hands.
For a tidy desk and environment, declutter any paper or items that you no longer need. Have separate bin bags for waste, paper, and recycling, and sort items as you go. Sorting out the waste as you declutter will get two jobs done at once, leaving you with a much clearer looking office already.
Don’t forget the toilet!
Cleaning the toilet is one of the things that you definitely don’t want to do on your first day back at work. Pour some heavy duty cleaner into the toilet bowl and let it do its magic. Also ensure that disposable hand towels, hand soaps and toilet tissues are topped up, if you’re using a hand towel swap this for a new one.
Shut everything down
Whether you have a laptop, PC and other electrical items, make sure when you leave they are all closed and shut down. Not only will this help you to forget about work for a few weeks and become refreshed ready for January, this will save power!
|England’s natural disasters: who cleans up?||27/11/2017|
Large-scale natural disasters hit the headlines in an instant, but are forgotten just as quickly by those not affected. Once the TV cameras and news reporters have left the scene, the real work starts in earnest. Who cleans up when the rest of the world looks away?
Fortunately, there are teams of experts who can be drafted in to help with disaster recovery. So what is required when disaster strikes?
As well as the initial emergency response, central government and local authorities have a pre-planned disaster recovery protocol. While the logistics of emergency recovery, including re-instating infrastructure, will have been planned out, many of the clean-up requirements aren’t as clear-cut. Most situations require heavy-duty equipment to clear debris and possibly even to seek out survivors.
This autumn was the 30th anniversary of the great storm. It’s a great example to look at in terms of a recovery operation because it was so widespread and unexpected.
The great storm and its effects
In October 1987, Michael Fish famously forecast "very windy" weather mainly over France. The weather turned out to be unusually strong, with wind speeds along the south coast of England reaching over 100 mph. The great storm killed eighteen people, and caused substantial damage, downing an estimated 15 million trees (including six of the seven eponymous oaks in Sevenoaks).
The south was paralysed with flying debris and collapsed buildings. Trees fell on roads causing major transport problems. A ship capsized at Dover and a Channel ferry was driven ashore near Folkestone. Damage to electricity and telephone lines meant thousands of homes were left without power for more than 24 hours.
The clean-up operation cost £1billion. A recent BBC report of the great storm’s anniversary told of the clean: "It was all hands to the pump, by everyone who could help. Builders, people, emergency services, it was the Dunkirk spirit." The biggest recovery tasks included clearing, removing and disposing of items like trees, parts of buildings, wreckage, vehicles, personal property, dirt and mud.
If ever there was a calling for the use of cherry pickers, MC Property Maintenance claimed in an interview with the author that the clear up following the great storm was one of them.
Other machinery called into action included cranes, chainsaws, and diggers. At the time, local authorities were expected to organise their own clean ups and told by central government to apply for an increase in grants when they had drawn up their bills. While local authorities dealt with the highways and infrastructure, such as transport routes and rail, private property owners were left to hire tradesmen to help with property damage and downed trees.
The aftermath of the Selsey Tornado: a surprising turn of events
Another disaster, which had far-reaching consequences into the quality of services offered by trades people in post-disaster clean ups, was that of the Selsey twister. In January 1998, the small West Sussex town of Selsey woke up to millions of pounds of damage caused by a freak tornado. The town’s most famous resident, the late Sir Patrick Moore, had one of his observatories obliterated.
At the time, The Independent reported that cowboy roofers, glaziers and builders began arriving in the village soon after daybreak. Although many local firms were present, others had come from London and as far away as Norfolk. Some locals were being asked for up to £60 per roof tile for repairs. The police drew up a leaflet with a caricature of a cowboy and it was circulated to all the damaged homes. It warned: "Watch out, there's a cowboy about. If in doubt call your local police station." Chief Inspector Harrison said: "We have uniformed officers out investigating the bona fides of some of these people."
Kevin Byrne, founder of Checkatrade, created his business as a direct result of the Selsey twister. In an interview with The Times Byrne explained, “Rogue traders came from all over, offering dodgy quick-fixes to damaged buildings. I wondered what trading standards was doing to protect people from dubious workers. It was doing nothing.” Byrne set out to do something about it and in September 1998 he published a directory of tradesmen willing to be vetted. This was the start of Checkatrade, which many tradespeople now sign up to ensure their business is seen as being trustworthy.
There is nothing we can do to tame the weather and when nature unleashes its destructive power, all we can do is ensure that we prepare for the worst and work hard to repair any damage. It is when we face a disaster that the human spirit kicks in. And as Kevin Byrne demonstrates, good things can come out of adversity.
Written by Mike James on behalf of MC Property Maintenance
|Preventing occupational lung disease||09/11/2017|
Lung disease remains a serious problem in the workplace. This years’ Workplace Healthy Lungs Summit, taking place on 22 November 2017, will describe what the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is doing about it, what you can do, and what science and evidence can tell us. Here, Summit speaker Lauren Kyle (Head of Cleaning UK & Ireland, Sodexo) speaks about the problem of work-related lung disease and what Sodexo is doing to prevent it.
Sodexo is a world-leading services provider, delivering a wide range of quality of life services to clients in the public and the private sector and in many markets including healthcare, education, corporate, defence, sports & leisure and justice. In the UK and Ireland alone Sodexo employs 34,000 people at some 1,850 locations.
At the heart of our business is the health, safety and wellbeing of those we serve and our employees.
Here in the UK and Ireland our HSEQ teams and subject matter experts work closely together with our frontline colleagues to identify improvements we can make in all areas of health and safety.
One of these areas is lung health. When we changed our cleaning chemical supplier we set up a working group of subject matter experts for cleaning and representatives from our health and safety team. They worked together to agree a range of products, which were not only suitable for our activities, but were also the safest products possible.
Within our business there are a number of services we provide and activities we undertake where lung health and pollution is an area of concern and, at Sodexo, we not only consider the health of our employees but we also recognise we have a responsibility to consider the communities we operate in and our environmental impact.
By the mere nature of our horticultural services business we have to consider changes we can make which positively impact the wellbeing of our teams and the environment. An obvious example is the regular use of chemicals in the form of pesticides; to address this we are actively working to reduce chemical weed control usage by increasing cultivation as opposed to spraying, reducing application frequencies and trialling alternatives such as hot foam weed control. Another is the use of equipment such as battery powered blowers and strimmers which reduce air (and noise) pollution.
This area of the business is reliant on its vehicle fleet and we are well aware of the adverse effect emissions have on lung health and, for this reason, we have now purchased 100 new vehicles which have Euro6 engines, designed to reduce the levels of harmful exhaust emissions with smart regenerative charging, acceleration control and auto-start-stop. They also require the use of the additive Adblu to reduce particulates going into the environment from the exhaust.
A few years ago we introduced ‘engineered water’ solutions into the business primarily to reduce the environmental impact of using chemicals for cleaning, but the use of this has also had a noticeable effect in the reduction in upper respiratory tract symptoms. This technology is now often referred to by our on-site teams as ‘magic water’ - a compelling reason to continue with its use.
As a company that promises to improve the quality of life of people, corporate responsibility lies at the core of everything we do. I have talked about just some of the areas where Sodexo is taking action – we have a comprehensive strategy which outlines our ambition to create positive change for individuals, communities and the environment.
At November’s Workplace Healthy Lungs Summit I will discuss these areas and more as industry leaders come together to share best practice and show how we can lead the way in tackling workplace lung disease.
Lauren Kyle will speak at this years’ HSL Workplace Healthy Lungs Summit taking place on 22 November 2017. You can book your place here: https://www.hsl.gov.uk/health-and-safety-training-courses/workplace-healthy-lungs-summit-2017
|The easiest way to clean a bathroom||02/11/2017|
The bathroom is a vital part of a household or hotel room. However, while it is used for personal hygiene activities it can itself be neglected during cleaning time. To clean a bathroom can be an uphill task for some, but is easy when you have the right tools, explains walkinshowers.org
Have the right tools to clean a bathroom
Proper time allocation is also paramount for the task, ideally early morning or late evening when the bathroom is being least used. Averagely, to clean a bathroom can take 25-40 minutes when done well. Take your time in order to cover all areas.
|Save money, water and electricity by using environment-friendly wash systems||22/09/2017|
In any increasingly competitive industry, margins get slimmer and any advantage that helps your bottom line is vital. If your business involves cars, trucks, and vans that need to be cleaned regularly, you’ve seen quite a bit of your revenue go literally down the drain.
Installing eco friendly wash systems can help you save money while lowering your environmental impact, an increasingly important trait consumers consider. Not only can you save money, but you’ll also actively profit off of environmentally friendly systems.
All about the bubbles
While a few suds in a bucket may not make much of a difference, bubbling systems can save water, energy, and chemicals. Rather than a liquid spray that easily runs off of vehicles into drains, bubbles allow for optimal coverage with less waste. Bubbling devices are easily adjustable, unlike foam curtains, and bubble mixtures often require less water to thoroughly rinse off the vehicle.
Water so nice you use it twice
What if the water your facility drains away wasn’t wasted? A comprehensive water reclamation system recovers your waste water, then cleans and conditions it for reuse. This water is fed back into your system for reuse in the wash process. While this saves you money on your facility’s water bill, it also saves water, helping you to protect the environment.
Think efficient, not big
Modern wash facilities require less water, but the space and energy demands are also far less than in the past. As miniaturization continues to make waves in electronics and electrical engineering, today’s control systems and electric motors require less square footage, and electric motor efficiency allows smaller ½ hp motors to effectively drive brushes and other equipment. Brush technology allows for better chemical application with less chance of vehicle damage thanks to modern materials and coatings. Even wash frameworks have been improved using state-of-the-art materials and alloys that are strong and durable.
Improvement pays for itself
If you’re looking for a full vehicle wash system, the benefits of starting right with an environmentally friendly setup is apparent, but what if you have a system already in place? The good news is that there is a path forward towards saving money, water, and energy. While an entire system installation may be easier, it may not be within budget, however retrofitting your current system can be accomplished on a piecemeal basis, matching purchase priorities to financial situations. Water reclamation systems, bubbler devices, or better brushes can be upgraded at a pace you determine.
Your bottom line
Whether you’re a fleet manager keeping your cars in tip-top shape or a commercial car wash operator looking for a better margin, spending a little to save a lot makes good financial sense. The right system can lower your utility bills and become a basis for recruiting and retaining customers. Make the investment in an eco friendly wash system today.
Written by Ethan Smith – a former wash system operator based in Los Angeles who transitioned to freelance writing a few years ago. His experience of running a car wash in drought-ridden California has led him to write most of his articles about saving water and the environment.
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