printable article

Originally published June 30 2009

Avoid Plastic Dry Cleaner Bags

by Natalie June

(NaturalNews) A form of plastic was first introduced at London's Great International Exhibition in 1862. It was not the same as the plastics we see today; these became popular after WWI when petroleum became more readily available. Plastics have changed lives and have many uses. They are used in hospitals, airplanes, cars, and for prosthetic limbs. At some point, though, for the sake of convenience rather than necessity plastics have become abused.

Although it is hard to get an exact number on how many plastic bags are used per year worldwide, environmental groups have estimated that the number is between 500 billion to one trillion and it takes about 60-100 million barrels of oil to make the world's plastic bags each year. It can also take anywhere from 400-1000 years for these bags to biodegrade. Why such a rough estimate? Well, no one has been here long enough to see it happen.

Are these plastic bags really necessary and at what point do people decide that sheer convenience is not worth the environmental impact? Many have begun to carry cloth bags with them when they go grocery shopping, but not enough people have looked to their dry cleaner. Not only are those giant strips of plastic a suffocation risk for children and animals, but most people only use their bags to take the clothes home and then toss them out.

One drycleaner estimated that his one dry cleaning store used between 50,000 to 100,000 plastic bags a year. This concerned business owner decided to make a difference. One Earth Day he passed out cloth garment bags to his customers free of charge. Not only would he get free advertising when customers carried the bag, but he was doing something good for the environment. About 300 million pounds of dry cleaning bags are thrown out annually. To his amazement 60% of his customers have been returning with their bags. Although making the switch is about seven times the price of plastic bags at some point his cost will go down and he can feel good about what he is doing.

Dry cleaners cover the clothes after cleaning to keep them free of dust. It is a necessity for them to do their job properly, but unfortunately not all business owners can or will make the switch to cloth garment bags. If change is to happen customers need to make it happen. It can be as simple as bringing a garment bag from a department store and convincing your dry cleaner to use the bag. Many companies are now selling cloth bags that convert to garment bags. It is the lack of convenience that may make some cleaners as well as patrons frown. They will actually have to match up the bag to the clothes and their customers will have to remember to bring the bag. In the end, though, this little extra effort can make a big difference in our world.

About the author

Natalie June is a teacher and mother dedicated to living as naturally as possible.

All content posted on this site is commentary or opinion and is protected under Free Speech. Truth Publishing LLC takes sole responsibility for all content. Truth Publishing sells no hard products and earns no money from the recommendation of products. is presented for educational and commentary purposes only and should not be construed as professional advice from any licensed practitioner. Truth Publishing assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. For the full terms of usage of this material, visit