There's a growing movement that aims to sharply reduce (and ideally eliminate) the excess packaging that is standard when you buy packaged goods. Although primarily concerned with the plastic packaging that comes with food, such an idea can be applied to other goods and services. When you pick up your clothes from your dry cleaners, it's not only your clothes that are brought home. You also bring the wire hanger that the garment has been hung on, as well as the plastic cover that has been used to protect the item. Is this dry cleaning packaging truly necessary? How can you have your clothes dry cleaned while still minimising waste?
The late Hollywood legend Joan Crawford wasn't a fan of wire hangers, if you believe her violent response to them in the book written by her adopted daughter (and its subsequent film adaptation, starring Faye Dunaway as Crawford). Unless you happen to have a similarly volatile response to wire hangers, why not just reuse them? They don't have to be waste if they're reused again and again. They might not be able to support the weight of particularly bulky items, but they can be perfect for hanging shirts, blouses, and other lightweight garments. But even the most avid of shoppers will have a finite number of garments that need to be hung up. What about when there are simply too many wire hangers that have been collected from your dry cleaners?
- Ask your dry cleaning service if they want the hangers back. Hangers in good condition could be reused for another customer, or your dry cleaner might recycle them.
- You could also just dump the hangers in your own recycling bin, since they're metal and can easily be recycled into something else.
But what about those plastic covers?
Although the plastic covers that your clothes are returned in can be recycled, it can be more environmentally friendly to do away with these altogether. If you regularly have your clothes dry cleaned, consider investing in a number of reusable garment bags. While these are made of synthetic fibres, they will be used again and again, essentially indefinitely until they break. Be sure to inform your dry cleaner that the garment bag is not merely a cover that you used to deliver your clothes, but is also the only covering you want them to be returned with.
Reducing excess packaging might be most obvious with food, but it's an idea that can be applied to many goods and services, and this is definitely the case with dry cleaning.