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Adding green to dry cleaning

Business is urging customers to use biodegradable plastic bags, or no bags at all.

February 08, 2011|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com

Flair Cleaners in Burbank has over the past year successfully asked customers to get their clothes naked — that is without all the plastic wrapping and other packaging.

In an effort to reduce waste, more than 30% of the customers at Flair now ask for their clothes naked, said store manager Ron Roscoe.

Flair Cleaners at 337 N. Pass Ave. already uses biodegradable plastic bags to hang freshly cleaned garments, but it wants customers to ditch plastic completely. Last week the store gave away a free reusable dry-cleaning bag to everyone who came in with two or more items to be cleaned.

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Now, the bag’s manufacturer, the Green Garmento, uses Flair Cleaners as a mentor program for other dry cleaners that want to begin replacing plastic bags.

“They’ve shown they are ready to make a positive change for the environment,” said Green Garmento President Jennie Nigrosh. “They’ve really grasped the program, and we’re thrilled at how successful Flair has been.”

The company helped customize the Flair Better Bag for the dry-cleaning business and hopes to make an impact on the estimated 300 million pounds of single-use plastic dry-cleaning wrapping that fills landfills, Nigrosh added.

The family-owned business began eliminating solvent with carcinogens more than 10 years ago, Roscoe said.

“We already use biodegradable bags, recyclable hangers and paper, and we try to reuse everything we can,” Roscoe said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to keep it green.”

The California Recycling Program has honored Flair with nine consecutive Waste Reduction Awards.

In the beginning, keeping it green proved to be difficult financially, but it is now slowly yielding positive effects and paying off, Roscoe said.

The event Friday included more than free dry-cleaning bags. Winner of Food Network’s Great Food Truck Race Grill ‘Em All and purveyors of unique ice cream sandwiches Coolhaus were also there to possibly dirty some clothes.

Longtime Flair Cleaners customer Leba Marquez, of North Hollywood, unexpectedly received her first reusable dry-cleaning bag on Friday when she brought in her laundry.

“I had no idea these were an option,” she said. “But if it helps the environment, why not?”

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