Dry cleaners and laundromats are better for the environment.
“Buy less. Choose well. Make it last. Quality, not quantity. Everybody’s buying far too many clothes.”
Vivienne Westwood said these words a few years back. The message has only gotten firmer with the launch of the documentary “True Cost” last year. Our eyes were opened with regards to our buying behavior. Purchasing cheap clothing is good for our wallet, but most of the time not good for our planet and the people making these clothes.
Grease does not dissolve in water
Cheaper clothing are mostly made out of synthetic materials. These materials are not good for your skin. They’re not breathable, which makes you sweat more and smell after a while. If you spend long hours at the office, that is the last thing you would want. That’s why you probably wear shirts made out of cotton, blouses made out of silk, and pants made out of wool, linen, or leather. If grease, sauces, makeup or any other type of oil based substances find their way on to your clothes, it’s best to have your dry cleaner take care of them for you. Oil does not dissolve in water, no matter what detergent makers try to tell you these days.
Professional fabric cleaning is 2x more environmentally friendly than doing your own laundry at home.
Steam is often associated with dry cleaning but water isn’t actually used in the cleaning process. Steam is only used in the ironing / pressing stage. To wash your clothes, the dry cleaner uses a chemical liquid perchloroethylene (PERC). PERC is bad for the environment, but not more than washing at home is. Your domestic washing machine uses a lot of water (52,9 liters per wash) and electricity (1000 watt for the washing machine and 2400 watt for the dryer). Because the laundromat uses larger machines, more clothes can fit per load. When the same amount of clothes are washed in multiple cycles at home, more water, soap, and electricity is used. In this sense, the laundromat is more efficient and thus more environmentally friendly.
Dry cleaned clothes last longer
You shouldn’t be afraid that the dry cleaning process wears out your clothes. Because of the careful treatment and handling of professionals, they actually last much longer! That is also good for the environment, because you wouldn’t have to buy new clothes as often. Hold on.. how did this blog start again? The point that we’re slowly trying to make is that dry cleaners and laundromats (shoe repair services too!) contribute to overall sustainable development. Nowadays, a tear in your blouse or stain on your dress probably means a trip to the city centre for some shopping. Am I right or am I right? This habit is becoming increasingly dangerous for the sustainability of our planet and the factory workers making your “affordable” clothes. Clothing and accessories have become so “accessible” that we don’t even think before making purchases anymore. We think we’re making a wise choice for our bank accounts, but we never think about everything else involved with the purchases we make. Where did they come from? Why are they so “affordable”? How long will they actually last? Your wise choice is probably going to cost you, other people, and our planet more than you know.
What does it mean to be sustainable?
This is the definition of sustainable development according to the World Commission on Environment & World Development of the United Nations’ report “Our Common Future”:
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
In short: Meet the needs of people on earth without endangering other people, the environment, or the economy. Yes, we want to earn money and prosper, but it’s also our responsibility to leave world in a good state for future generations.
Planet & people friendly
So yes, dry cleaners and laundromats contribute to sustainability. Every dry cleaner keeps tightly to the strict environmental laws, so even with the use of PERC, little negative effects are present at the bottom line. Washing at home uses a lot of water and electricity, while the laundromat can do this with less. On top of that, your clothes last longer with professional cleaning (and in-between clothing & shoe repairs), so you have to buy new clothes & shoes less often. Pay attention to the clothes you buy. Make sure they are made out of natural materials, and made in good working conditions. Invest a little more in good, lasting pieces, instead of buying cheaper alternatives that cost our people & planet much more than money. This way we can all be more people and planet friendly.
Nowadays, taking care of your clothes & shoes is easier. Making them last longer is easier. Your life can be easier. Don’t just buy clothes because they’re easily accessible and cheap. Each item you buy adds to the positive or negative effects of our behavior towards our people, our economy, and our planet. Make conscious choices. Be the change.