The Mark Of Zero

The Official Blog of the Zero Waste Network

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Region 6 Focus: Hats Off to Local Green Companies

By Michelle Vattano, Pollution Prevention Coordinator, NMED

Typically when we think about dry cleaning, we think about the chemical smell when we first walk in the door, the chemical smell on our clothes after they’ve been dry-cleaned. I personally gave up dry-cleaning my clothes three years ago because I couldn’t’ stand the smell anymore. The chemical is perchloroethylene (PERC). This hazardous solvent can contaminate ground water, contribute to smog, and is a suspected carcinogen at sufficient high levels. While giving your clothes that dry-cleaner scent, PERC typically gives drycleaner staff headaches, skin irritations and other various health issues.. That seems so be changing nationwide. More and more dry cleaners are abandoning PERC and turning to more Earth-friendly cleansers. The nationwide demand for PERC, as it is known, has declined 82 percent from 1985 to 2002, according to the Textile Care Allied Trades Association; in Southern California, it has been banned altogether.

The New Mexico Environment Department’s Green Zia Environmental Excellence Program is a voluntary recognition program designed to recognize businesses that are reducing their environmental impacts and footprints. Last month One Hour GreenEarth Martinizing received the Commitment Level recognition for its’ environmental stewardship and overall process improvement. One Hour GreenEarth has been in business in Santa Fe and Albuquerque for 40 years, and Bruce Squires, owner and manager has taken a turn for an alternative method called silicon-based cleaning. This is a new technology that is just being introduced in some cleaning chain stores. This is a clear, odorless, non-toxic silicone-based solvent (known as a siloxane) rather than PERC. Accidental silicone solution spills decompose into sand, water and carbon dioxide and do not release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) which are deleterious to the ozone layer. The silicone cleaning solution does not require regulation under any of the hazardous waste laws and it does not present the health risks that PERC and other petroleum-based cleaning solvents pose. People with chemical sensitivities to dry cleaning are reported to be able to use the silicon-based Green Earth Cleaning system without problems. Hats off to One Hour GreenEarth Martinizing for their efforts to reduce their environmental impacts.

Other companies that received recognition are Hall Environmental Analysis Lab, Inc, of Albuquerque, New Mexico and Bandelier Trading Company and White Sands Trading Company.

To recognize your business or receive additional information on the New Mexico Environment Department Pollution Prevention Program contact Michelle Vattano at (505) 827-0677 or click on http://www.nmenv.state.nm.us/P2_Web/.

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