As Earth Day approaches and the nation’s attention is focused on the green initiatives incorporated into President Obama’s Stimulus Package,

dry cleaners can rightfully claim to be a “green” cleaner.

While the federal government is instituting programs to help make America greener, the Green Cleaners Council recognizes the tremendous investment of time and money being made by individual dry cleaners to become greener without government subsidies. According to Ann Hargrove, Past Director of the Professional Wetcleaners Network and Board Member of the Green Cleaners Council, a dry cleaner’s impact on the environment goes far beyond what kind of cleaning processes they use. “We’ve been concerned about lack of government oversight in environmental claims regarding dry cleaning, and the resulting greenwashing by many cleaners. We knew it was time to focus on all the areas of environmental sustainability and to give consumers a way to judge how genuine and wide reaching their cleaner’s commitment was to creating a greener world.

“This certification is not only an important step for individual dry cleaners, but for our entire industry,”

The Green Cleaners Council performs an in-depth analysis of cleaner’s operating practices, from the front of the store to the back, including products, water use, electricity, delivery vehicles, alternative energy sources, energy conservation, hanger recycling and the use of recyclable bags, to name just a few. The Council verifies the information, adds up the “eco-points” associated with each issue and rates the cleaner, which demonstrates the environmental sustainability of their business.

Applicants are rated on their total commitment to environmental sustainability programs, responsible solvent use, recycling efforts and smart energy and water conservation as it is practiced throughout their entire operation. Evaluating every facet of the operation including cleaning technologies, the Council set defined environmental sustainability benchmarks, as well as ethical standards regarding green marketing and green cleaning in the dry cleaning industry.

The Green Cleaners Council, counting the many ways a professional cleaner can be green, is comprised of a broad cross-section of disciplines with an interest in environmental sustainability in the dry cleaning industry. Among those represented are dry cleaning customers, attorneys, engineers and waste management experts, as well as the National Cleaners Association, who in cooperation with concerned consumers, was instrumental in its formation. The Green Cleaners Council website (www.greencleanerscouncil.com) explains the program and the rating system and identifies participating green cleaners as well as the requirements to receive the different ratings. The website also features a blog that encourages consumers and cleaners to explore drycleaners’ green initiatives and serves as a resource for media outlets interested in pursuing stories about environmental sustainability in professional cleaning.