Dry-cleaning has always been a dirty business, but a host of new green dry cleaners are springing up around the country that offer a non-toxic and environmentally friendly alternative to keeping your clothes clean. At green cleaners such as Boston’s Ecoluxe, Chicago’s A Greener Cleaner, and Honolulu’s Clean Living Hawaii, business entrepreneurs and earth-conscious consumers are kissing the toxic chemicals associated with dry cleaning goodbye. Dry cleaners have typically used the chemical perchlorethlyene (known as PERC), which is harmful to both humans and the environment. Today’s generation of green cleaners, like GreenEarth Cleaning, a national dry cleaning company based in Kansas City, uses a silicone-based solvent that degrades into sand, water, and carbon dioxide. The upsides are many: your clothes won’t smell of chlorine, the dry-cleaning is environmentally safe, and the prices are competitive with traditional dry cleaners. In addition, some green cleaners are re-using or recycling plastic bags and hangers to further reduce waste. To find a green dry cleaner in your area, look for local chains or consult GreenEarth Cleaning’s national directory at www.greenearthcleaning.com
You don’t have to leave the house to make your laundry routine green, try switching to eco-friendly laundry detergent, like Ecover’s liquid or powder detergents. Ecover makes high-quality, plant-based, biodegradable detergents and other laundry care products, like non-chlorine bleach and fabric softener. Ecover can be found in stores nationwide. Other nontoxic alternatives are small plastic ‘cleaning capsules’ that use natural enzymes to clean fabrics. Enzyme capsules are sold at www.realgoods.com and are easy to use, just toss them in with your load of laundry and refill periodically with enzyme liquid.
With modern green technology like state-of-the-art, energy-efficient washers and dryers, there’s no need to resort to a washboard and tub to be green. For product-ratings and recommendations on water saving, energy-efficient washers and dryers, check out the new, authoritative guide from Consumer Reports, available at www.greenerchoices.org