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Nov 072008

By John DeFore
Green Right Now

Now that bringing your own shopping bag to buy groceries is no longer seen as aberrant behavior, and is inching in some places toward the norm, foes of throwaway plastic bags can open new fronts in their war: the dry-cleaner bag, for one, which reportedly accounts for three hundred million pounds of landfill-clogging waste each year.

Last month, dry cleaning and laundry professionals at an Atlantic City convention were introduced to a new product designed to do away with those single-use bags: The Green Garmento, a more durable polypropylene bag that shifts forms as needed for continual reuse. At home, it’s a duffel bag for collecting dirty clothes and taking them to the cleaner; at the cleaner, it can be reconfigured as a zippered garment bag, keeping items fresh until customers pick them up.

Keeping up with those morphing bags may sound like a bit of a headache for folks in the laundry business, but company co-owner Jennie Nigrosh (a former show-biz professional who launched Green Garmento a few months ago with her husband) says the response so far has been good. “We’ve been to two dry cleaning conventions,” she reports, “and they get it. We thought we’d come up against a lot of resistance.”

Nigrosh notes that switching to reusable bags would save cleaners the expense of buying disposable ones, and could even present a way to make a profit — dry cleaners could sell the bags to customers (for a suggested price of $9.99, around twice the wholesale cost) just as grocers now sell reusable shopping bags. Alternatively, they could take a deposit for bags that would remain their property; those of us who rarely use dry cleaners (freelance journalists, say, who go to work in shorts and a ten year-old t-shirt) may not realize this, but many cleaners already take deposits for VIP laundry bags intended to promote customer loyalty.

Nigrosh says she’s already in talks with a store owner who wants to put his own logo on the bag (alongside the Green Garmento brand, of course) for just that purpose.

In these early days, the Green Garmento is only being used by cleaners in a few cities. Nigrosh points to such clients as Brentwood Royal Cleaners in Brentwood, CA, Urban Life Cleaners in Los Angeles (2 locations), and Commuter Cleaners in Connecticut and New York (7 locations). She hopes to spread the word via consumers with a program offering free bags to folks in exchange for referrals.

If and when the product takes off, Green Garmento has planned to clean up after itself. At the end of a bag’s useful life, the company promises to recycle them and even make pick-ups at clients’ stores, giving participating recyclers a discount toward new bags.

Copyright © 2008 Green Right Now | Distributed by Noofangle Media