Among the signs advertising two-hour dry cleaning service and tailoring on the outside of Milt & Edie’s Dry Cleaners is a slogan, “If we were any more environmentally friendly, we’d be beating your clothes on a rock.”
Since opening its doors 20 years ago, owners Milt Chortkoff and his nephew Michael Shader have found ways to make their dry-cleaning business more eco-friendly.
A month ago, Chortkoff and Shader unveiled their newest addition: using biodegradable poly bags to cover garments.
“I am an environmentalist by nature, so it was a stretch for me to even get into this business because a lot of the practices were old school,” Shader said. “But as soon as we started this business we started finding ways to become environmentally friendly. . . all green things we can do is a must from our perspective.”
Making the switch to poly bags has many significant environmental benefits, said Luis Cabrales, senior campaign and outreach associate for the Coalition for Clean Air.
“Using biodegradable bags is important for many reasons. First, it reduces the amount of trash we have in our landfills and, second, plastic takes hundreds of years to break down and leeches toxins into the environment,” Cabrales said. “So any effort to change that situation is very helpful.”
The new poly bags add to the laundry list of green measures the company has implemented, such as recycling hangers, switching from paper gift certificates to reusable gift cards, installing energy-saving light bulbs as well as cutting back on the use of paper-based bar coding.
General Manager Robert Shapiro, who has worked in the cleaning business for several years, came to work at Milt & Edie’s partly because of its environmental policies.
“I have seen an evolution of philosophy in the management team in terms of becoming as green as possible,” Shapiro said. “It is something that we talk about frequently here and it was one of the major attractions for me to come to work for this company.”
The environmental-saving actions the company has taken on is a huge bonus to customer Lauren Craniotes.
“I think it is so great that they are now using the poly bags and that they are doing their part,” said Craniotes, as she dropped off khaki trousers to be hemmed. “It makes me want to continue going here.”
The poly bags and other environmental ventures do not come cheap, Shrader said. The poly bags are about 30 percent more than traditional plastic garment bags.
“It is very much worth the expense, it is just part of our business,” he said.