Going Green 15 Jun 2018


Janice Raycroft looks at a diverse range of practical ways to improve the green credentials of any laundry or drycleaning business.

Where are you likely to find what used to be the village and town gossips who always know the best trades people to recommend, restaurants with special offers or even the nearest launderette with machines that can take a couple of king-sized duvets or a cleaner to trust with a grubby beaded designer dress? 

You’ll find them online, mostly, unless you catch these knowledge banks in the supermarket car park or outside the school gates. They are, almost to a woman, the ‘yummy mummies’ (and sometimes glamorous grans who can pass for ‘yummy mummies’) who now run thriving local social media groups which help to bind communities together. 

When they’re not tweeting they are acting as super-efficient admin on Facebook groups. I live in what is nearly a town but is digging in hard to retain its village status with nearly 8,000 residents in a prime commuter spot. 

This means we can support two drycleaning operations and a launderette alongside restaurants, pubs, beauty parlours and hairdressers around the Waitrose. And our local Facebook group overseen by four local ladies has 4,600 members and is visited by thousands more passing through. So when someone asks: ‘Where’s a good pub with a garden?’ the answers come flying in. ‘The yummy mummy network’ is one of the most powerful modern mediums and, particularly with the increasing focus on going green initiatives, drycleaners and laundries need to cosy up to it. 

While the drive towards more environmentally-friendly lifestyles is regularly trumpeted on the national and international stage, local campaigns by movers and shakers are making it happen on the ground. 

A good example is Henley, the prosperous Oxfordshire market town where Refill was launched last autumn by town councillor Sarah Miller and environmental campaigner Julia Carey (the latter is not shy about going into local businesses to ask that they remove or cut back on use of plastic in their wrapping). Refill is the scheme whereby businesses willing to offer free tap water to those with their own drinking containers receive a window sticker as well as a pat on the back to announce their involvement. 

reids of henley drycleaning going green laundry news
Reids of Henley has been running some trial initiatives to encourage customers to use less plastic.

One man who spotted all this activity in the town was drycleaner Ian Reid from Reids of Henley (he’s from the third generation of the family to stand behind the counter there and they recently opened a new shop in similarly upmarket Marlow, just over the border in Buckinghamshire). Being someone instinctively against unnecessary waste, he decided to find ways his own business might join in – and benefit, of course. “I can see Henley setting out to become a ‘zero plastics’ town eventually, but in the meantime there are plenty of ways we can take part,” he says. “We’ve been running a trial scheme with reusable covers which customers bring back to the shop the next time they drop in cleaning. 

It’s been a success, so we’ll continue to roll it out. We spend perhaps £5,000 a year on plastic packaging, so even if it costs us a little more at first I see this as a very good financial investment for the future.” Organic growth, sounds perfect. Reid has already spotted that his scheme is generating new custom – and he’s not having to spend on advertising or extra leaflets locally as word of mouth in the likes of cafes and school PTAs is doing the trick. What’s more, the local newspaper highlighted his green credentials, right down to the fact that he’d invested in greener machinery. 

Reid tells Laundry & Cleaning Today that this includes energy efficient washers from JLA and new drycleaning equipment from Renzacci. These names so familiar to us mean nothing (sorry!) to his customers, but when they hear about water being recycled to the max before going down the drain they are delighted. 

For some time he’s also run a hanger recycling corner: “Some of the people who pop in to leave hangers are not bringing in cleaning – at least that time. But they are sharing in a feel good factor associated with out business.” At Reids they’ve made sure that their green endeavours are well publicised on the local grapevine and it’s one of the cheapest and least time-consuming efforts you can make. A good example of such marketing is provided by Connoisseur in Swiss Cottage, London, where they stress their eco-friendly credentials in all kinds of ways. 

Winners of our LADA Green Impact award last year, we in the industry know they ‘walk the walk’. On top of offering ‘greener’ cleaning methods, they recycle everything they can, including packaging, bags, hangers, safety pins and clips, and use an electric van with zero emissions. So we come to ‘talking the talk’. Phone them, and before you have reached the ‘Press 1 for…’ bit the pleasant answerphone voice informs you that this is a green-friendly cleaners. 

Go to the website and the front page opens to a lovely green field view and the LADAS winner’s logo proudly displayed. Like Reids, they’ve engaged with the right local lobbying groups and so have gained ‘Going Green’ and ‘Cutting Carbon’ marks of achievement from Camden Climate Change Alliance. They also make donations to World Land Trust, which buys threatened wildlife and forests, and to date have raised enough to protect a whopping 56 acres. While Camden may be busy, noisy and densely packed, Connoisseur clearly know their market very well.

Counter intuition

Graham warren of Caraselle believes that drycleaners should accept that not everything they do or use can be 100 per cent environmentally friendly, but that they should shout about all the areas where they are making a difference. 

“Anything that is recyclable is excellent, but in some cases it could be best to stress that what you are using is easily biodegradable so won’t be around damaging the environment for centuries,” he says. “And then there are loyalty schemes – cleaners should build in recyclable garment covers to these, and tell customers. Polyester and nylon are not environmentally friendly, but something durable which can be used again and again without being thrown away after single use has its merits. Stressing lifespan and use of recyclable hangers is the way forward.” At Caraselle they are currently working on a new set of garment carriers that definitely fit the bill so keep an eye on their website. 

ideal fill recycle going green drycleaning laundryNew on the block at Ideal Manufacturing is FILL, a range of refillable eco cleaning and laundry products supplied in trendy glass bottles, so cutting plastic usage and upping the biodegradable ingredients. They tick all the boxes, courtesy of no harsh chemicals, only natural scents or unscented, being dye free, cruelty-free and even vegan. 

In the right markets FILL will go down a storm. High street cleaners, health stores, farm shops and textile care professionals are among the first users and it’s easy to become a stockist, and you can start with a single 10L bag in box and 10 screen printed glass refill bottles. The range includes fabric conditioner and all-purpose cleaners and those for bathrooms, windows and floors. Phillip Kalli, MD at Ideal, says: “The laundry liquid (available as Neroli or unscented) contains mild sugar surfactants and agents from soy and chicory root. It’s been getting great feedback from our early adopters. The other most popular products include FILL ginger scented wash up and FILL fig leaf scented hand soap, which is in the bathrooms of some cool restaurants in London, including the amazing Monty’s Deli.” Ideal recently appointed OxWash as their distributor in the Oxford area, who have been delivering refillable eco products by electric bike since the beginning of May.


For some thing very eye-catching – and new – to please your greenest customers, take a look at the Bamboo tissue range from The Cheeky Panda – facial tissues of course, plus loo rolls, all made from fast-growing bamboo, which has anti-bacterial, anti fungal and hypo allergic qualities to pamper skin with a luxury quality associated with the best premium brands. With the hayfever season peaking, this in your window might draw in new customers, who you can then tell how bamboo absorbs 35 per cent more carbon than trees, helping to keep the world’s air clean, while introducing them to you other green initiatives.

cheeky panda going green drycleaning laundry

...continued in magazine.

You’ll find a full hard copy of this article in the June edition of Laundry and Cleaning Today. Subscribe here for your copy: http://bit.ly/LCTsubscribe

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