You may have never given much attention to dry cleaning, or the environmental friendliness thereof. But perhaps it’s time you should. Even if you use dry cleaning only a couple of times a year, it is important to patronize a business that is good to the environment. But how can dry cleaning be bad for the environment, you might ask. I wondered the same thing, until I had a random conversation with a helpful staff member at Kitsilano Dry Cleaners where I got my answer.
Without getting too technical, old school dry cleaning was achieved by using strong chemicals to get tough stains and filth out of clothes, without water ever coming into contact with the delicate fabrics. Think about it, stains had to dissolve into something in order to get taken off of clothes. That “Something” was/is known as PERC, a highly toxic chemical. But toxic chemicals are used all over the world. What’s the problem. The problem is that for many years, PERC found its way out of many dry cleaning facilities through leaks and poor disposal, into the ground surrounding them.
This chemical accumulates in soil, and doesn’t really work its way out during the average person’s lifetime. It can get into the water table and is all around a very dangerous thing to have in a community. And even if dry cleaners handle it well when it is on their property, it isn’t uncommon for these chemicals to be poorly handled once in the hands of waste management. As you might expect, not every community in the United States has waste collection services trained in the proper handling of this specific chemical. For this and many other reasons, modern dry cleaners are moving to green alternatives that do just as good a job. But not all of them are there yet, and you have to look carefully to make sure that you are endorsing a green company when you go to the dry cleaners’.
So how do you know? Well, the easiest way is to ask. Dry cleaners who don’t use PERC use this as a marketing decision. After all, it is expensive to use alternatives, and to update old systems which depended upon this once industry-standard chemical. In most cases, you’ll be able to find the information you’re looking for right on a company’s website. But if you have any questions, just call the number and any employee who works there will be able to give you the information you are looking for.
In some limited cases, isolated dry cleaners have been found to claim PERC-free cleaning, while secretly using the chemicals that have plagued the industry for decades. If you have any question about this, independent internet reviews are usually enough to calm or confirm your suspicions. It is all but certain that PERC will be eliminated from the industry in the coming years, as green initiatives are driving away the remnants of old standards that no longer serve a healthy purpose.
Article submitted by community writer.