Tips of the Month
Go Green With Your Dry Clean
We all have some clothes that say “dry clean only.” When it’s time to clean them, make sure you go to a cleaner that is using cleaning processes that are safer for you, store workers, and the planet.
Dry cleaning is a misnomer – it’s not really dry. Instead of using water and detergent, traditional dry cleaners use a chemical called perchloroethylene (or perc, for short) as a solvent in the dry cleaning process.
While Perc can get your clothes clean, it’s a nasty chemical. Perc is a synthetic, volatile organic compound (VOC) that is harmful to human health. Minimal contact with perc can cause dizziness, headaches, drowsiness, nausea, and skin and respiratory irritation. Long term perc exposure is linked to liver and kidney damage, and even cancer.
Unfortunately, many dry cleaners still use Perc, so make sure to ask what process a dry cleaner is using before giving them your clothes. Increasingly, cleaners are realizing that customers want green options, and so advertise themselves as “green cleaners.” But don’t accept this blanket assurance. Ask them which process they are using and try to choose the best green practices, which are:
· Wet Cleaning – which is a much gentler version of using a clothes washer like you have at home. The machines can be programmed based on the fabric to ensure that it is not damaged. Wet cleaners do not use any harmful VOCs, so they are safe for your health and the health of workers and the planet. Most dry clean only clothes can be wet cleaned.
· Liquid CO2 – your clothes are placed in a specialized machine, which is emptied of air. The pressure in the chamber is raised by injecting gaseous CO2, and then liquid CO2 is pumped into the mix. The liquid CO2 dissolves dirt, fats, and oils in the clothing. At the end of the cleaning cycle, the liquid CO2 is pumped back into the storage tank, to be reused again.
· Less green options include DF-2000 hydrocarbon solvents, which are made from petroleum, and silicone based solvents, which create dioxins when produced, although they are nontoxic to us. So try to avoid these since they are not as good for the environment.
And you can save money and the planet by trying to buy less “dry clean only” clothes in the future.
From the City's Committee for a Better Environment
Tips for Driving Safely with a Pet
Pets riding in cars should always be secured in a crate or wearing a seatbelt harness designed especially for them. Loose pets inside vehicles can become a deadly distraction for drivers. Unrestrained pets can become hazards themselves during an accident. Never allow pets to sit on your lap or remain in the front seat while you drive.
Dogs love to stick their heads out open windows. This is very risky because your pet is not properly restrained. It puts your pet at risk of eye, ear, face and mouth injury from airborne objects when its face is hanging out the window. Letting your pet hang any part of his/her body out the window puts the pet at risk of being thrown out of the vehicle during a collision. Also if a pet sees something interesting he/she may just decide to jump out the window.
Never leash your pet in the bed of a pickup truck. Your pet could be seriously injured or be killed or could even cause an accident and harm someone else. Truck beds do not provide protection from the weather. The hot sun can heat the metal flour of the truck bed and burn a pet’s paws.
Most cats are not comfortable traveling in cars. It is best to keep them in a carrier that is secured by a seat belt around the front of the carrier.
For longer trips carry water for your pet. Pets get thirsty just like humans. Plan for stops to allow your pet to exercise and eliminate. Make sure your pet is microchipped and wears a collar and tag imprinted with your name and contact information. Never leave a pet alone in a car. Cars can heat up quickly.
For more information, visit the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
From the City's Animal Welfare Committee