Reducing Our Impact on the Planet by Going Green
We have always believed that beautifully cleaned clothes should never come at the cost of the planet.
We’re documenting our endeavours to cut down our negative impact on the environment and lead the way to a plastic-reduced – and hopefully plastic-free – world of dry cleaning.
“20,000 bags of single-use plastic saved”
As of April 2022, we were able to save around 20,000 bags of single-use plastic from being used by providing our alternative premium reusable covers.
But how, and more importantly why, did our green initiatives start? And can they actually have a significant impact on the environment?
The issue of plastic waste in the dry cleaning industry
In an industry like ours, it’s impossible to turn a blind eye to the amount of plastic waste generated on a daily basis. And most of it comes from packaging.
Single-use plastic packaging is an affordable and age-old method of protecting garments to make sure they remain fresh and clean.
However, plastic isn’t biodegradable, and it’s estimated that plastic bags can take around two decades to decompose in a landfill, while other plastic items may require up to 450 years.
Plastic also makes up 80% of all marine debris, creating a dangerous and uninhabitable atmosphere for marine species who ingest or become entangled in the pollution. It also comes back full circle into the food we eat and the environments we live in.
The adverse effects of plastic on the environment, particularly to the oceans and marine ecology, have become an undeniable fact on a worldwide scale.
So why isn’t more being done?
The truth of the matter is that many dry cleaners feel uncomfortable with the amount of single-use plastic covers they need to go through on a regular basis.
The problem is that they aren’t aware of any feasible alternatives that they can turn to.
“We needed a solution that was both cost effective and sustainable”
CEO and founder Matt Connelly addresses the issue with plastic management in the dry cleaning industry:
“Plastic management is an issue that dry cleaners across the globe are struggling with – and it’s not out of carelessness. It’s an issue of staying afloat and economic practicality.
For small businesses, cost is an incredibly important factor in being able to continue functioning, and the plastic alternatives out there have a significantly higher production cost which makes them unviable for many cleaners.”
Making sure the work being done is financially sustainable is key: without the funds to keep going, small businesses won’t be able to do good for their environment or their community.
We knew we needed a solution that was both cost effective and sustainable.
How our eco initiatives started
When we first founded ihateironing in 2014, we had three clear goals in mind: improving life for our customers, our dry cleaning partners, and our staff. At the start, when our company was made up of only a couple of members and a handful of dry cleaning partners, the impact we had on the wider community and environment was quite small.
Yet as our London dry cleaners network started growing, our responsibility towards our community became ever clearer.
“I thought it was important for us to not only think about customers, partners, and our staff, but also think about the wider impact we have on the community and the environment.” Matt explains when asked about how the idea behind the eco initiatives came to life.
“We were aware of some other companies in other industries who were doing great things in that area, and we wondered what positive steps forward we can start taking as well.”
So we started developing ideas both on the environment side as well as the community side.
How are we reducing single-use plastic waste?
We were able to come up with a process that is cost efficient, both on the cleaners’ end as well as the customers’.
Our reusable covers renting strategy allows customers to place a deposit of £3.00 for each luxury reusable cover used. The customer can then return the reusable bag with their next order, and they’ll get their deposit refunded. Each reusable cover can fit around 5 garments at a time.
We initially proposed a trial to a small segment of our South East London customers, before expanding to include all of our delivery locations in 2020.
The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, with both customers and dry cleaners enjoying the idea of a reusable cover which can be rented, returned, and reused – eliminating unnecessary waste and replacing the need for plastic covers.
Furthermore, instead of separating folded items with plastic film, we’ve switched to tissue paper. Our FSC certified tissue paper is made from recycled materials, and can be reused for a variety of purposes or recycled once again.
We hope that plastic replacements such as reusable covers and tissue paper can one day become an industry norm.
By finding this cost-effective and sustainable alternative to single-use plastic, we hope to have found a financially feasible endeavour that any dry cleaner can adopt.
Many of our customers were happy with this initiative, and chose to opt-in to our reusable covers scheme. Together, we’re making a difference: one less single-use plastic at a time.
ihateironing is a network of professional dry cleaners providing the finest dry cleaning and laundry service with convenient collection and delivery at any times that suit you. We operate in London, New York, Brighton, Edinburgh, Oxford, and beyond.