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Dirty laundry: Dry cleaners greenwash

Most city dry cleaners tout themselves as “green” or “organic” eventhough their claims are unregulated and don’t actually mean they’re notusing potentially harmful chemicals.

Most city dry cleaners tout themselves as “green” or “organic” even though their claims are unregulated and don’t actually mean they’re not using potentially harmful chemicals.


A City Council hearing today will discuss possible guidelines to define “eco-friendly” for dry cleaners, but a bill proposed by Councilmember Jessica Lappin, would let a business use an “eco-friendly” sign even if it uses perchloroethylene (known as perc), which is linked to cancer and neurological problems. To gain the “eco” label, the business only have to recycle hangers and buy wind power, for instance.


“It looks like official green-washing of the industry,” said David Kistner, CEO of Green Apple Cleaners, which uses nontoxic practices. “In reality, I don’t know a single cleaner that could not meet the eco-designation.”


Any cleaner using hydrocarbon solvents, a petroleum-based product that scientifically qualifies as “organic” since it has a carbon in it — as does perc — even though environmentalists say it’s not green.


The National Cleaners Association’s Nora Nealis thinks the bill would penalize companies that invested in plants here as opposed to those who ship clothes to New Jersey where regulators wouldn’t likely visit. She simply wants City Council to outlaw the “misleading” organic label.

 
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