13 July 2016

#GoneGreen2016 | Day 143 | Sustainable Switch: Eco Friendly Dry Cleaner

eco ethical dry cleaner

I'd been meaning to write a post about eco-friendly dry cleaners but had yet to get to it, as I prepared to leave for my three week trip to Costa Rica I called out to my fellow eco + ethical bloggers for help with guestposts and syndication posts, and amongst the kind souls who responded, was a Unicorn of the Ethical variety.

I met Francesca, the author of Ethical Unicorn in London a few weeks back and she's an inspiring person. She's super passionate about the eco + ethical movement and has focused any spare time she has hero-ing companies and products which are being the change us gals wish to see in the world.

She wrote an awesome post about eco-friendly dry cleaners (focusing on one in London where she lives) which I'm pumped to share with you.

Be sure to check out Francesca's blog, Ethical Unicorn or follow her on Instagram HERE.

Below are her words:
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Day 143 / 365

You have to be pretty confident about an idea to quit a high-powered job in a world-renowned company to go after it. This was exactly what Ludovic Blanc did in 2011 to start an eco-friendly dry cleaners. The result, BLANC, is truly brilliant. I stumbled into BLANC a few weeks ago whilst wandering through Notting Hill and, in the process of learning who they are, have completely fallen in love. In fact, I’d go as far as saying they’re my favourite business in London. And so, my little unicorns, I am going to tell you Ludovic’s story, and on the way show you the wonder that is BLANC and the eco-friendly garment care movement.

The Backstory
Ludovic Blanc was a French native and grew up in an especially green family: they only shopped organic and local, they recycled everything, they even made sure their car was always the greenest possible option. He was always close to nature and mindful of the environment. Skip forward a few years to 2011 and Ludovic is now a London local, having been here for nearly a decade, and is in a top position at JP Morgan (the world’s 6th largest bank). He’d always wanted to set up his own business that had some sort of positive impact on the world, but wasn’t yet sure what that could look like.

Until one day, he reads an article.

And in this article, he learns about dry cleaning. And you know what he learns? That dry cleaning (wait for it…) is terrible. In fact, the article is detailing new legislation in France in regards to the toxicity of dry cleaning. As a frequent user of dry cleaners he thinks, surely there’s a better alternative out there somewhere, right?

But before we move forward, let’s pause a moment to learn about…

Why Dry Cleaning is AWFUL:
Traditional dry cleaning relies on soaking your clothes in a petroleum-based solvent called Perchloroethylene, or “Perc”as it’s often known. Perc is highly toxic, a well-known carcinogen and a renowned air, soil and water pollutant. Fun fact, this solvent is currently being banned in the US and many European countries such as France and Denmark. And we’ve all been soaking our clothes in it. In fact, when Ludovic started hiring workers, of those who had previously worked in other dry cleaners many had completely lost their sense of smell because of the solvents, and many ended up literally high by the end of a working day because of the amount of chemicals they were exposed too. Horrific.

(Don’t worry guys, this story is about the wonderful alternative that is BLANC and therefore this story has a happy ending)

Sustainable SOLUTION: 
Back to the story. So Ludovic obviously doesn’t want to use his old dry cleaners anymore, he figures what’s the point of him buying organic and trying to be environmentally conscious if he’s getting his clothes cleaned with these chemicals, so he begins to do his research. But he can’t find an eco-friendly alternative anywhere in London. This seems crazy to him because he’s learned that there are alternatives out there: in California, these other methods have been in use for 20 years, with other stores mainly found across France and the Netherlands. This is a problem with a solution, but there’s no one to fill this need in the UK. And there’s more he starts to notice. He remembers how often when he has used dry cleaners he hasn’t really received great service: his favourite suit has come back with an unstylish shine, his shirts have come back missing buttons, his clothes have come back with stains that haven’t really been removed. In fact, he hasn’t been a particularly satisfied customer at all, he just hasn’t had another option. He realises that there are so many elements of the dry cleaning industry that could be improved and modernised, and the BLANC dream is born: a fully natural alternative, where clothes – from basic items to the most delicate – would be cared for to the highest standards, which would be kind to the environment, to people’s skins and to its own staff. Ludovic figures Apple revolutionised the computer industry, why couldn’t he do the same for dry cleaning?

So Ludovic took the next logical step that we would all choose in that position. He saved up his holiday time from work, took holidays and went to intern at an eco-friendly dry cleaners in France. Ok so maybe this isn’t the step we would all take, but it is one that proved to be incredibly important. Ludovic worked on developing his concept for two years, left JP Morgan, and the first BLANC store opened in Marylebone in 2013 at 79 George Street.

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