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Dry Cleaning Consumer Education

Project Details

Year: 2013
Location: Boston, Statewide
Project Manager: Darylle Sheehan, Campaign Organizer - Clean Water Fund
Partners: Jobs with Justice of Massachusetts, Community Labor United, Massachusetts Association of Health Boards, Winthrop Cable Access Television, and Friends of Belle Isle Marsh

Overview

In partnership with collaborating organizations, Clean Water Fund (CWF) educated consumers across the state on the health and safety of different types of dry cleaning options - including the most widely used toxic chemical, perchloroethylene, and safer alternatives such as professional wet cleaning, hydrocarbons and Green Earth. By understanding the health effects of each option, consumers were able to accurately evaluate their local dry cleaning shops and avoid being swayed by "greenwashing". The team conducted a survey to identify cleaners using professional wet cleaning, an advanced technology that allows "dry-clean-only" clothes to be effectively washed with water in computer-controlled machines, and promoted these cleaners to consumers. 

Results

The plan to educate Massachusetts citizens about the impact of their choice in garment cleaners and "greenwashing" marketing techniques was a success. Consumers of garment cleaning and non-consumers alike learned that this issue affects not only the health of workers but also the health of their families and communities. Consumers were reached through in-person workshops; email newsletters from CWF, the Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow, and 15 other organizations; and, fact sheets distributed by other organizations. There were 13 workshops held across the state with an overall total of 100 attendees. 42% pledged and followed through and spoke to their local garment cleaner about wet cleaning and its benefits.



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