dry-cleaningD.BLAWG SAYS: Like so many trends and fads, “going green” is what all the cool kids are into these days. I’m into that. I like the environment. I’m cool…

Unfortunately, for many people, this simply means adhering to the fad and buying whatever has a flower on the label or embedded in the logo.

And now the word is out:

DRY CLEANING = BAD!

Most of us, myself included, are not entirely sure why dry cleaning is so bad for the environment but we DO know it has something to do with chemicals… So we choose to support our local “green cleaner” and we take our business to the guy with ORGANIC written across his dry cleaner’s awning… BUT:

excerpts from the New York Times article:

Is Your Cleaner Really Greener?

… In New York and around the country, dry-cleaning stores have increasingly sprouted signs reading “organic” or “green,” as environmentally conscious consumers look for alternatives to traditional dry cleaning and its use of the solvent

perchloroethylene.

D.Blawg: Ah-Ha! The bad chemical has a name: Click Here to Look it up on Wikipedia.

Prolonged contact with that solvent, known as PCE or perc, has been linked in some studies to cancer and neurological troubles like vision problems, and its use is strictly regulated.

…But marketing claims for the alternatives are not regulated at all…And sometimes the cleaning methods advertised as environmentally sound are anything but.

Government and environmental watchdogs say many cleaners are turning to methods that are only slightly less toxic than perc. The National Cleaners Association, a trade group, says SOME BUSINESSES ARE USING THE TERM “ORGANIC” IN A BLATANTLY MISLEADING WAY — not in the sense of a chemical-free peach, but in the chemistry-class sense of containing carbon, the element found in all organic compounds, including perc.

Although there are government standards for organic food and energy-saving appliances, there is no such certification of what makes a dry cleaner green. But environmental experts say technology is readily available to replace toxic chemicals in dry cleaning. And while about 85 percent of the nation’s estimated 36,000 dry-cleaning shops still use perc as their primary solvent, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, many cleaners have started to embrace the NEW METHODS:

WET CLEANING:

…garments are washed with water and biodegradable detergents in computerized machines that carefully control variables like agitation… D.Blawg Asks: can’t we just do this at home in the sink??

…Cleaners who use wet cleaning say it does a better job of removing some stains than traditional dry cleaning — which, despite its name, is actually a wet method that immerses clothes in a liquid solvent… But wet cleaning has been a tough sell among cleaners because it requires training on new equipment and because of the potential liability cleaners face for defying the “dry clean only” label D.Blawg Asks: what the hell is “dry cleaning” anyway?!?!

LIQUID CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2):

Used as a replacement for solvents like perc.

…But the method is rarely used because the equipment is too costly — up to $150,000 per machine — for the typical mom-and-pop dry cleaner… But Judith S. Schreiber, the chief scientist for the Environmental Protection Bureau of the New York State attorney general’s office, said the solvent, which is petroleum-based, was “a cleaned-up version of gasoline” and only slightly less toxic than perc…

HERE’S THE THING:

“…Most customers…do not care what method is used as long as their clothes come back clean and undamaged…”

So as customers, it is our job to CARE and to ASK QUESTIONS!
…Mr. Spielvogel of the National Cleaners Association said customers who cared about environmental practices should look beyond particular methods and question the cleaners:

  • Do they dispose of hazardous waste safely?

  • Do they recycle hangers?

  • Do they use biodegradable plastic and packaging, or fuel-efficient vehicles?

“This shirt is “dry-clean only”…which means it’s dirty.”

– Comedian Mitch Hedberg

The other thing we could do is avoid the hassle and the expense altogether by simply NOT purchasing clothes with a “dry clean only” label! – D.Blawg

Advertisements