Success Story: Beacon Cleaners & Laundry
Beacon Hill Drycleaners
4858 Beacon Ave S, Seattle, WA 98108
Beacon Cleaners & Laundry, owned by Hi Bum Kim in Spokane, upgraded its dry cleaning equipment from PERC to a less toxic solvent way back in the 90’s, then upgraded equipment again in 2010 - reducing the amount of solvent used by an additional 90 percent. They also give customers reusable garment bags, helping to reduce the over 300 million pounds of plastic garment bags that end up in America’s waste disposal sites and waterways each year.
Be a part of the Solution to Pollution: Choose EnviroStars certified Dry Cleaners
EnviroStars is a widely respected, environmental certification program that businesses can voluntarily qualify for. Customers who use EnviroStars certified dry cleaners can be confident that they are supporting environmentally responsible businesses whose practices have been reviewed by a local government technical advisor.
Eighty-nine percent of residents surveyed in Washington state say they are concerned about hazardous and toxic wastes in the environment, but many of them may not be thinking about clothes cleaning as being part of the problem.
Dry cleaners have been using perchloroethylene, or PERC, since the 1940s. This nonflammable solvent was thought to be safer than the previously used petroleum-based solvents. The problem is that when PERC is not carefully contained it can move quickly into the air and into groundwater; and the chemical poses serious health risks, particularly to those working with it most closely.
Why it matters
PERC emits vapors, and studies have found PERC particles in indoor air, drinking water supplies and fatty foods. The solvent is also found in soils where it is persistent, meaning it doesn’t break down readily, and in surface and ground water.
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, dry-cleaning workers’ chronic exposure to PERC causes various health conditions. Neurological impairments are a major risk, along with liver and kidney damage. PERC is also a suspected carcinogen and studies by the Centers for Disease Control found that occupational exposure to PERC is associated with increased risk of cancer and end-stage renal disease deaths.
While consumers are not generally considered to be at risk, one study found that PERC remains in the dry-cleaned fabric.
How EnviroStars help
EnviroStars-certified dry cleaners place a high value on environmentally responsible practices and they work with EnviroStars consultants to make their business operations greener.
Currently, 98 dry cleaners are EnviroStars certified in King, Kitsap, Jefferson, Pierce, Skagit, Spokane, and Whatcom counties. Many of the certified dry cleaners use alternatives to PERC, such as high-tech wet cleaning, CO2-based or hydrocarbon-based systems; and are eliminating chlorinated spot cleaners. Those that use PERC have implemented techniques to prevent emissions, monitor for and contain leaks and avoid spills, protecting against risks to their employees and the environment.
In addition to using safer products and equipment, these businesses invest in employee training, recycle hangers, and provide reusable garment bags.
Reach for the Stars: EnviroStars
Look for the EnviroStars decal in the windows of local businesses, or search our online directory to find a certified cleaner in your neighborhood. If your dry cleaner does not have an EnviroStars certification, don’t be afraid to ask the business about the practices it uses. Increased consumer interest serves as an incentive for businesses to consider safer alternatives.
For a complete list of EnviroStars businesses - for all kinds of services from car repair shops to dentists to landscapers to printers, or to find out more about certification for your business, see www.envirostars.org