Green Washing at the Dry Cleaners

Green Washing at the Dry Cleaners

Amber Byfield
Jan 12, 2009

1_12_0913clean650.jpgWhen it comes to dry-cleaning, we've gone over it before. Traditional dry cleaning is not the eco way to go; but now, we're wondering just how eco-minded the all-natural/organic-touting cleaners are.

Here's one problem: like we pointed out here on Re-Nest, the word organic has a small handful of meanings and use of the word is left unregulated--not just regarding food, but also regarding dry cleaning practices.

Jump below for more about why you should be wary of marketing in dry cleaning...

Take a look at this article from the New York Times--they point out that some "organic" cleaners still use solvents in the non-toxic dry cleaning that they advertise.

There are, in fact, truly non-toxic alternatives to dry cleaning--including wet cleaning and liquid CO2 (be sure to check out NYT's sidebar)--but if you're dropping things off to be dry-cleaned be sure you double check that your cleaner is sticking with the approved green methods and not dipping into the toxic solvent concoctions to get that stain out of your favorite jacket.

Someday, hopefully very soon, there will be an environmental safety rating for dry cleaners from the National Cleaners Association. This takes into account whether they recycle hangers, use biodegradable plastics, dispose of hazardous waste correctly, etc.

Of course, the article points out, one way to avoid any worrisome chemical compounds is to simply steer clear of clothing that's tag request it be dry cleaned only.

Photo: Keith Bedford for The New York Times

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