When you think of a dry cleaner, you don’t typically think of a green business, but French Cleaners, a business based in West Hartford, Connecticut, will change your mind. This innovative company is committed to sustainability and showing what’s possible when you prioritize being green to save the environment and protect your customers and employees.
French Cleaners Inc. was started in 1911, and has served the greater Hartford area in the same location since 1925. The family owned business, which specializes in couture fashion, bridal care, and restoration has eliminated dangerous chemicals, reduced plastic, put hanger recycling in place, embraced LED lighting and solar power, and rolled out leading edge technologies and processes that are safer and more sustainable.
“We value and are committed to sustainability and green initiatives because we care about our customers, community, and families,” said Mark Hatch, Manager at French Cleaners Inc. These initiatives are not only good for people’s health and the health of the environment, but they almost always have a financial benefit that we can use as savings to pass along to our customers and employees.”
French Cleaners recently joined the Green Business Bureau to better inform the public and community of their green commitment. Company staff have found that communicating the green aspect of a dry cleaning business can be a challenge, as the majority of customers are not educated on how drycleaners operate. French Cleaners Inc.’s green certification and GBB seal will help to promote their green initiatives and remind their employees and customers every day that sustainability and the well-being of their customers and employees is a top priority.
The dry cleaner industry is no stranger to chemicals despite the harm they may cause to their employees and customers, but French Cleaners Inc. is not one of those dry cleaners having eliminated all dangerous chemicals from their business. The company does not use perc like most cleaners and instead uses 100 percent environmentally neutral solvents K4 and Intense Hydrocarbon. These organic cleaning fluids are non-toxic and safer for both people and the environment. In addition, they have implemented wet cleaning, a more eco-friendly cleaning system that uses highly-efficient technology to monitor water and detergent use to minimize waste and protect the environment. Other sustainable and eco-friendly practices at French Cleaners include:
- Using dry cleaning distillation chill water reuse for laundry;
- Launching a LED light bulb transition initiative;
- Undertaking an apollo steam trap audit and installation;
- Providing a hanger and plastic recycling program to customers;
- Using SPOT customer interfacing technology to reduce route mileage. This texting system lets customers to respond “no” if they don’t want service, allowing drivers to skip certain legs of their routes to save on gas.
- Phasing out the use of trichloroethylene, a spotting chemical; and
- Reducing the gauge of the company’s plastic film so it is more efficient (for example, they are able to create around 20 percent more bags per pound of plastic).
In 2019, the company has focused on installing solar panels to offset electricity usage and upgrading to a white EDPM rubber for roofing to reflect sunlight and cool the building naturally. This has allowed French Cleaners Inc. to eliminate utilities needed for air conditioning and other cooling.
As the company approaches the second half of the year, they are scoping out costs and plans to begin using a chilled glycol loop for drycleaning cooling and laundry rinse reuse. They are also in the process of installing an efficient high velocity spot cooling system for employees, having already eliminated large, inefficient evaporative coolers to cool the pressroom. This new system will send chilled air to specific locations to provide maximum comfort without using so much energy to inefficiently cool a large space.
At French Cleaners, they know that green business is good business and that they can protect the planet while protecting the bottom line. They take their commitment to the environment seriously, and strive every day to leave a healthier environment for their employees and customers, their children and their children’s children. They strive to make green changes even before they become popular.
Being a green business is a journey. French Cleaners found that basic projects, like installing LED light bulbs, can be easy to undertake and provide a quick payback. But larger projects can make a bigger impact and really set you apart from the competition. The company voluntarily made a change to using K4 Solvent after reviewing industry trends and understanding how cleaning chemicals impact the environment and their employees. Despite the expense, it made this change before all its competitors, because it was important to stay true to the company’s core green business values.
Want to see what else French Cleaners is doing to be green? Click on the Green Business Bureau seal at the bottom of this page to see a complete list of all the French Cleaner’s green activities and practices.
To learn more about French Cleaners Inc., visit: https://www.thefrenchcleaner.com