Monday, January 12, 2009

Green Resolution: Laundering and Dry Cleaning

One area to focus on as you continue to evolve and resolve in 2009 is on your closet and how you get the clothes in there get clean.

Laundry may seem simple, but there are layers of eco-choices to consider as you go about the business of cleaning your wardrobe.

First, for regular washing, you can choose biodegradable, eco-friendly laundry soap. (We especially like natural, sustainable and unique Maggie's Soap Nuts.) You can then choose to wash in cool water to save energy.  For drying, opting for line drying outside saves major energy by skipping the machine dryer and has the added benefit of leaving you fresh, sunny clothes, towels and sheets. If you only have indoor space for a drying rack, leaving clothes inside to dry will help add some moisture to your indoor air.  (And for what you do machine-dry, definitely skip dryer sheets which are full of not-so-fresh chemicals.)

(As an aside, if you go to laundromat like I do, you can can still use natural soap, do some wash by hand and dry much of it in the sun when you get home.)

Next there's dry cleaning.  Traditional dry cleaning is notorious for using the chemical perchloroethylene (perc for short) that is a neurotoxin and carcinogen that pollutes air, earth and water.  So cutting back on dry cleaning or only buying garments that can be hand or machine-washed is a great way to go. If you want to know how to hand wash silk and wool (both lovely, natural fabrics) without shrinking or damaging it, here's a great article on the subject--I wash both with Dr. Bronner's with no trouble (and no cost). 

But don't worry--not all dry cleaners are equal and not all cleaners use perc.

You can find an environmentally friendly cleaner that uses wet cleaning or pressurizd or liquid CO2. Just make sure to ask or use Low Impact Living's handy search tool to find one near you.

Then comes the plastic problem.  Often even eco-cleaners use those plastic-covered wire hangers--a disposable mess that may stick around in landfills for hundreds of years.

So, for the final phase of laundry resolution comes The Clothesnik. Made for clothes hounds who still are passionate about reuse, this reusable cotton bag lets you take your clothes to the cleaners and pick them up in a reusable, functional, no plastic allowed bag. We've got some hanging on our racks for you to check out so you can never go back to plastic at the cleaners again.

Here's to a year of greener laundry!

And let us know in the comments if you have any tips to add or laundry-related resolutions of your own.

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