Olive oil is one of the eco-friendly cleaning products used to maintain the Sydney Opera House, as part of its environmental policy which includes “green cleaning” practices.

The website of this iconic building in Australia’s biggest city shares its green cleaning secrets by revealing that it uses “low corrosive non toxic cleaning practices to preserve the building fabric including olive oil for bronze fittings, clay for cleaning untreated wood and baking soda for concrete.”

In a BBC News video, Steve Tsoukalas, a special advisor at the Sydney Opera House who has been employed there since 1968, demonstrates how he uses a cleaning mixture containing olive oil to clean and polish the building’s bronze railings.

While Tsoukalas polishes the railings, he talks about the significance of olive oil in his native Greece: “Olive oil for the Greeks means a lot of things,” he says. “The Greeks used olive oil in the Olympic Games to rub on the body. That’s why they used to call them the “bronze bodies”. [This was] a thousand years ago. Olive oil protects from the sun.”

In the video interview, Tsoukalas also makes a touching and sentimental tribute to the building where he has been working for over 45 years, which he calls his “beautiful lady.” “I reject in my mind the word retirement,” he says. “Of course one day the time is going to come. It’s going to be very hard for me to leave this beautiful lady because I’m in love with this lady… the feelings, they are very strong about this building, no one can remove this strong love I have in my heart for this beautiful building.”

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