Solvent supports dry cleaner's eco-friendly views

Solvent supports dry cleaner's eco-friendly views

December 18th, 2010 by Brittany Cofer in Green

Staff Photo by Allison Carter/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Dec 10, 2010 - At Preferred Cleaners, a dry cleaning business in Hixson, Christine Bentley, a silk presser, steam irons a green silk dress. Prior to the steam cleaning, it was dry cleaned using Rynex, an eco-friendly solvent.

* What: Environmentally friendly cleaning solvents used in dry cleaning.

* Company: Preferred Cleaners

* Location: 1150 Hixson Pike

* How it's green: Rick Strickland, owner of Preferred Cleaners, said the eco-friendly Rynex solvent he uses is non-carcinogenic, biodegradable and has a low toxicity, unlike traditional solvents long used in the industry. In addition to the solvents being easy on the Earth, a special machine is able to reclaim 99 percent of the solvent used. "My solvent won't hurt the land, water or air, and it won't adversely affect my employees," he said. The outfit is also "almost a zero waste company" because it reuses or recycles just about all of its finished product, including hangers and cardboard, Strickland said.

* How long will it last? The eco-friendly solvent cleans clothing just as any other solvent would.

* Why do it this way? Strickland said the financial liabilities involved with using toxic solvents outweigh the slight increased expense of buying the eco-friendly product. He said it's more reasonable to use a product that is safer for the environment and his employees. "And to the customer, it's a peace of mind issue," he said. "They know we're not doing anything that can hurt them."

* Advice for others considering green initiatives: "Make sure it's the fiscally responsible thing to do for your business," he said.

* Is environmentalism an essential part of the business and why? Environmentalism is a large part of Strickland's decision to use an eco-friendly solvent, but he said the decision also had to be justified from a financial point of view. "The green movement is to the point where doing good is not enough, you have to make money doing it," he said. "At the core, we're a dry cleaner, first and foremost."

- Compiled by staff writer Brittany Cofer, bcofer@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/brittanycofer.