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Spiffy Green: Our Commitment to Eco-Friendly Car Washing

posted 19 September, 2019 by Jackson Balling
Education, Car Care
 
When Spiffy started in 2014, we wanted to revolutionize the car wash industry. In addition to the technology innovations, convenience, professionalism, and quality we envisioned, our team had a passion for the earth and the environment. We recognized the opportunity to take eco-friendly car care to a new level, and named this tenet of our culture and company "Spiffy Green."
 
To us, Spiffy Green means more than just being eco-friendly and minimizing our impact on the environment. It's an ongoing commitment to push the boundaries of how eco-friendly a car wash can be. Our commitment at Spiffy is that as long as this company exists, we will continue to evaluate, innovate, and push the boundaries of environmentally conscious car washing.
 
While we want to build the world's largest on-demand car wash company, we also want to pass a legacy of doing right by our environment for generations to come.
 
According to the 2019 U.S. Consumer Sustainability Survey published by Computer Generated Systems (CGS), more than 66% of consumers consider sustainability when making a purchase and are willing to pay more for sustainable products. It shows that our team at Spiffy isn't alone in our desire to minimize our impact on the environment.
 
One of the toughest aspects of being eco-friendly with Spiffy Green is that just 'being green' isn't enough. We will not accept an option that delivers anything but the best possible wash quality for your vehicle. Also, we will not accept any trade-off that reduces the life of your vehicle's condition and refuse to compromise on the quality or vehicle impact to be Spiffy Green. While it can be challenging to find the right processes and products, we believe we have achieved this goal of being eco-friendly without compromising the quality of our services.
 
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Three Components of the Spiffy Green System

There are three elements to the Spiffy Green system that this blog will focus on:
  1. Water Conservation – Water is one of our most precious resources, and Spiffy Green uses technology to reduce the amount of water needed for a service to an amount much lower than alternative car washing methods.
  2. Water Reclamation – Since we believe a great car wash can't be completely waterless, the small amount of water we do use is always recycled.
  3. Eco-Friendly Chemicals and Supplies – Hydrochloric acid and sulfuric acid, commonly used by traditional car washes and detailers are toxic, non-biodegradable high-impact chemicals. Why? Well, it's the easy way. Time is money, and harsh chemicals can clean a car in less than half the time. But what about the impact on the environment and the vehicle?
Each of these topics is important to understand our investment in new proprietary hardware, systems, processes, and supplies that are all part of Spiffy Green.
 

The Importance of Water Conservation

Did you know that 97% of the world's water is not fresh? And of the remaining 3%, 2% is frozen in glaciers and the ice caps, leaving 1% of the world's water that is fresh and available for human consumption?
 
Many areas of the US and the world are suffering from severe droughts due to changing weather patterns and warmer temperatures. It's clear that water is a precious resource to us and future generations. We must begin to use this resource more carefully and efficiently to ensure a long-term supply of clean, fresh water.
 

Spiffy and Water Conservation

To break down the benefits of our Spiffy Green approach, we must start by looking at how much water it takes to wash your car.
The least conservative use of water is when you wash your car at home.
 
According to the Maryland Department of the Environment, an average home car wash uses 100 gallons of water in 10 minutes. A 2018 study conducted by the International Carwash Association (ICA), found a fixed-site car wash, also known as a tunnel or automatic car wash, more efficient than washing at home, with an average 30-45 gallons of water per use.
 
How about Spiffy? At Spiffy, we use a unique foaming soap application with eco-friendly chemicals that together utilize 5-15 gallons per vehicle. Spiffy uses about 5% of the water a home wash uses and less than half the water used at a traditional fixed-site car wash. This has resulted in us saving over 8 million gallons of water since day 1!
 
If water conservation is important to you, Spiffy Green is the clear winner, utilizing a minimal amount of water compared to similar service-quality options. On top of that, you'll find that our hand wash by professional W2 technicians yields quality results that can't be matched by a typical fixed-site car wash.
 

"What about water-free washes?"

Some companies across the country offer water-free washes. Since we are always looking at reducing our eco-footprint at Spiffy, we have examined this as well. After testing and detailed research, we have decided NOT to offer water-free washes at this time.
Zero-water solutions have several issues, which cause us to be hesitant:
  • Not the most eco-friendly – In a water-free wash, water is replaced with much more concentrated chemicals. These harsh chemicals end up being a bad trade-off environmentally. It's better to use a small amount of water and reclaim it (more on that below) with eco-friendly chemicals, versus zero water and harsh chemicals.
  • Not the most vehicle-friendly – In addition to not being eco-friendly, these chemicals require forceful physical removal with a towel or cloth after application to your car. During our testing, we found some cars were cleaned safely, and others had micro-damage to the paint finish. Our normal Spiffy hand wash process is completely safe under all conditions.
  • Not the most customer-friendly – On top of the eco-friendly and vehicle safety issues, we have found that water-free washes do not have the quality results that our customers have come to expect with Spiffy. We've completed over 150,000 services over the last five years; many of those vehicles have asphalt, thick bug residue, tree sap, fungus, and mold on their exterior. In our testing, none of these common conditions can be adequately cleaned with a water-free solution.

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Spiffy Water Reclamation Mat

To maximize our use of water, we've introduced the Spiffy Water Reclamation Mat to change the way that car detailing is performed. We tested a couple of commercially available systems and realized they did not do a great job; they either weren't tough enough or prone to leaks. As a result, we developed a proprietary Water Reclamation Mat to capture all of the runoff water and soap generated from making the exterior of your vehicle look Spiffy!
 

"Where does the water go?"

Great question! In addition to the proprietary mat, we developed a reclamation system that gathers all the runoff and pumps it into a tank in our vehicles. At the end of each day, we treat the runoff water at our facility, separating the chemicals, and recycling the water for future services!
 

Eco-Friendly Chemicals and Supplies

Minimizing the amount of water we use, then reclaiming the water we do use and recycling it are two critical components to our Spiffy Green system. The third component is our suite of eco-friendly chemicals and supplies.
 
The typical wash at Spiffy uses ten different chemicals and compounds. Depending on the level of service and various situations we frequently run into, as many as twenty chemicals and compounds can come into play for both the interior and exterior of your vehicle.
 
The exterior items include wash, wax, wheel cleaner, compounds for removing bugs, mold, tree sap, and other contaminants that can harm your vehicle's finish. The interior items include carpet and upholstery shampoos, stain removers, air fresheners, interior cleaners, and pet hair removers.
 
When Spiffy was founded, we were fortunate to have over ten years of experience in the car wash industry. We knew we wanted to take things to the next level from an eco-friendly perspective, so we made a list of all the chemicals we would need to handle these situations, and we started testing.
 
For each chemical and compound, we tested:
  • Efficacy – How well does the candidate solution work? Does it work quickly? Does it leave a residue? Does it leave an odor? How does it compare to the competitive set?
  • Eco-impact – Every chemical and compound has a Material Safety Data Sheet that we compile to assess the environmental impact. Is the candidate bio-degradable? What are the ingredients?
  • Applications – Can a chemical or compound be used for multiple solutions? We scored each of the available solutions against these criteria and chose the best possible solution with the lowest environmental impact.
But it doesn't stop there, we continue to evaluate each and every solution for alternatives that are as effective, but even more eco-friendly. We believe we utilize the best combination of compounds and chemicals that not only deliver a sparkling result, but have a minimal impact on the environment. It is our commitment to you, our customers, to continue to innovate in the area of eco-friendly chemicals. We invest heavily in Spiffy Green because it's the right thing to do for our customers, our industry and the planet.
 
Check out how our Spiffy Green system can change how you wash or detail your car with $20 off your first Spiffy service!
 
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Posted in Education, Car Care

Written by Jackson Balling

As Spiffy's Content Marketing Specialist, Jackson produces our written content as well as the Vehicle 2.0 Podcast with Scot Wingo. As the lone Buffalo, NY native in the office, his woes as a sports fan are well-documented.