Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Big (Green) Apple

I have a distinct memory growing up of my mom coming home from the dry cleaners with my hunter green wool toggle coat one day, and insisting that it could not be brought into the house.  She took the dry cleaner's plastic off and hung the coat on the porch for SEVERAL DAYS to give the toxins a chance to escape.  At the time, I thought she was ridiculous.  Although why I didn't see an issue with the fact that I even owned the coat in the first place given that temperatures in the Bay Area rarely drop below fifty-five degrees I'm not sure.  I guess even then I wanted to move to the east coast and was practicing my outfits or something.

Anyway, now I find that I seem to have inherited her neurosis.  If I can avoid dry cleaning at all, even by hand washing, I do.  I have always made a conscious choice not to live in a building with a dry cleaner (apparently your chance of getting cancer and neurological diseases if you live above a dry cleaner is like ten times normal or something horrifying like that), and for the longest time I was scouring New York to find an ecologically friendly dry cleaner.  Well, finally, after an afternoon cream tea at Tea & Sympathy, I stumbled across one.

Green Apple Cleaners uses CO2 technology to clean clothes.  As far as I can tell, they use liquid CO2 (sort of like club soda I guess?) and pass it through your clothes at a high pressure.  I have no idea how it works, but let me tell you, it does.  They're gentle on my clothes, no buttons are discolored in the process, and my whites actually come out looking, well, white (I took in a fairly heavily stained white blazer a few months ago and I was practically blinded by it's whiteness when I picked it up...a far cry from the faintly yellow cast that seems to be the result at most dry cleaners).  Apparently Consumer Reports shares my enthusiasm.  In a 2003 study, the publication voted CO2 as the best overall cleaning method out there.  Funnily enough, perc, the standard, extremely toxic, dry cleaning method, came out close to the bottom of the list.

The prices are a bit higher than at a standard cheapo dry cleaner, but they're certainly fair.  Maybe like a dollar more than my guy down the street would charge.  And they are WAY more reasonable than the high end places like Meurice and Madame Paulette's. (I had a particularly traumatic experience years ago with one of these establishments, I won't say which, when they charged me $75 to clean three pairs of pants).  Besides, I'd prefer to spend the extra dollar than to end up with a giant tumor someday.  

Here's the CEO, David Kistner, who started the business because he didn't want his kids exposed to toxic chemicals:

One of Green Apples environmentally friendly pick-up and delivery vehicles:

Green Apple currently has two other locations in addition to the one in the West Village--one on the Upper East Side and one one the Upper West Side.  But fear not if these are not convenient options for you.  Sign up here for pick up and delivery.  They'll get you started with a kit that includes reuseable garment bags (no more drowning in endless sheets of plastic), spot stickers, a hanger recycling bin and a garment checklist and you'll be all set to be clean and green!


Anonymous said...

"as far as you can tell" they use CO2??????. They are not realy truthful about their process. They use the solvair cleaning process http://www.solvaircleaningsystem.com/Solvair%20Home.html They wash your clothes with propylene glycol ether. I wonder if it is safe enough to drink. There are some cleaners in this country that use just CO2 but Green Apple is not one of them. Solvair is very vague on their website as too what this cleaning stuff is but I dont think I would want to drink it......would you? I would consider this Greenwashing.

Laura said...

In the future, if you plan to spew baseless claims on this blog (or really, on any blog) identifying yourself as something other than "anonymous" would lend a bit more credence to your comment. And in response to your question about whether I'd like to drink the cleaning fluid you mention, the answer is no. I make it a rule not to drink any cleaning fluid, no matter how organic it might be. Call me crazy, but it just doesn't sound appealing.

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