Getting hung up on being green

Photo: istockphoto.com/Frances Twitty
How many wire hangers have you thrown out this month?

For many the ongoing debate over drycleaning has focused on the toxic solvents, while the lowly wire hanger has gone unnoticed.

But those hangers we bring back from the drycleaners are actually an environmental hazard. According to Bob Kantor, CEO of Hanger Network, about 3.5 billion wire hangers go into U.S. landfills every year. That's 88,450,512.15 kilograms (195 million pounds) of steel or the equivalent of 60,000 cars.

Kantor's New York-based company has developed an alternative to the traditional wire hanger.

EcoHanger is made from 100 percent recycled paper that has been folded, glued and laminated to produce a strong and flexible hanger. Since it's durable the hanger can be re-used and when worn out added to the compost pile or recycling bin instead of the landfill.

EcoHangers are also made in EPA-regulated plants conforming to the carbon emission standards and wastewater discharge standards.

The hangers are given free to drycleaners, who normally pay eight cents per wire hanger, adding up to $40 for a box of 500. The company has recently partnered with Cleaners' Supply Network to provide the hangers to a network of over 35,000 drycleaners.

To offset costs, Hanger Network sells ad space on the EcoHangers. Dunkin' Donuts, L'Oreal, Revlon Mitchum and Van Heusen are a few of the companies who have bought space.

Encourage your drycleaners to start recycling wire hangers and ask if they have plans to use something like EcoHangers. Find the proper recycling facility for your wire hangers by using the Earth 911 recycling directory in the U.S. or by contacting your local municipality in Canada. The most important thing is not to give into the temptation to chuck those pesky wire hangers when they start cluttering up your closet.

Anne Colvey is a regular contributor to Green Living Online. She hangs onto all her hangers for the dry cleaners.