70% of all perc used by traditional dry cleaners ends up in the environment. That’s bad. The EPA and the International Agency for Research on Cancer have concluded that this toxic cleaning agent, formally named perchloroethylene, likely causes cancer. By 2023, perc will be illegal in the state of California.
When his daughter became sick from a dry cleaning facility near her home, EcoClean founder John Henderson did his homework. In 1996, he broke the mold for garment cleaning in Austin when he opened EcoClean and decided to use wet cleaning only.
Unlike traditional dry cleaning, wet cleaning uses only water, biodegradable detergent and computerized equipment. The results? No risks to employee or customer health, no groundwater contamination, and cleaner clothes!
EcoClean was one of the first companies in the nation to offer wet cleaning. The process was so rare that customers actually used to mail in their clothes for cleaning!
John Henderson sold the company in 2004, and current owners Mark Hess and Kevin Bonfield officially took over in November 2011. Today, EcoClean offers free, citywide pickup and delivery, serving the whole Austin metro area. By eliminating customer trips to the shop, this service helps to conserve a significant amount of gasoline. Not only that, but EcoClean’s delivery van gets 27 miles to the gallon.
EcoClean Takes Community Health a Step Further with PROPS
General Manager Kerstin Shoberg declares that EcoClean is trying to “change the whole paradigm of dry cleaning.”
But the company is doing even more than eliminating toxins, reusing hangers and providing multi-use garment bags. EcoClean just celebrated the one-year anniversary of its community giving program, PROPS. Every month, the company chooses to raise money for a local non-profit, and 5% of Wednesday sales go to that organization.
Though EcoClean has a heart for environmental causes, the criteria for selecting non-profits is broad. More than anything, PROPS aims to support local Austin groups that are not part of national organizations. Over the past year, PROPS has raised thousands of dollars for non-profits like Austin Pets Alive!, the Austin Film Society and Save Our Springs Alliance.
The PROPS non-profit for October 2012 is AIDS Services of Austin. From ASA’s website:
Our mission is to enhance the health and well-being of the community and people affected by HIV and AIDS.
To contribute to PROPS, pick up your clothes on any Wednesday of the month.
Fingers Crossed, Two New Locations Coming Soon
If all goes as planned, EcoClean will open two new locations by the end of the year. Though the paperwork hasn’t been finalized, co-owner Mark Hess wants customers in North and South Austin to benefit from a shorter drive-time. Convenience is a factor, but Mark and his team understand that more time in the car ultimately means the release of more pollutants.
The Austinot will keep you updated on the status of the new locations. But with free pickup and delivery, you have no excuse no matter where you live in Austin.
Check out EcoClean’s lovely new website. Not only can you find “normal” business info like hours of operation, EcoClean also presents indepth articles on the dangers of perc, the history of dry cleaning, and even this neat page on how to get rid of different kinds of stains!
This is just the sort of Austin business we love to tell you about. I hope you’ll take the time to check out EcoClean and let me know what you think!
Disclaimer: I received credit from EcoClean to test out their wet cleaning services.
What are your thoughts on traditional dry cleaning vs. wet cleaning?
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