Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Gwen and Lindsey of The Laundress

From www.thehaystackneedleonline.com

I love The Laundress. And sure it's nice that their green detergents are packaged in chic black + white striped recyclable bottles, but it's how their dye-free detergents work that's made me a Laundress devotee for years. I won't use anything else to wash my cashmere + wool sweaters and my two pair of jeans (that cost a fortune but fit great) still have their prime dark finish as I wash them with The Laundress Denim Wash (then hang dry.) The Laundress line is green beyond what's in the bottle: recyclable bottle 1 (most recyclable), plant-based ingredients, and 3x concentrated for a smaller carbon footprint with freight.

Gwen and Lindsey started The Laundress five years ago — both coming from a background in the apparel world (Gwen worked at Ralph Lauren and Lindsey worked at Chanel.) Their cashmere was getting ruined at the dry cleaners. Woolite was the only alternative, and it's not made of the best ingredients (in fact sometimes Woolite can strip cashmere of color.) Gwen and Lindsey were educated in textiles at Cornell, and they found the proper way to care for textiles is through handwashing or machine-washing. In the process of trying to find the best ingredients for their detergents, they found that plant-based ingredients are better than the synthetic petroleum-based ingredients most often used in laundry detergents. (In fact, many people think they're allergic to the fragrance in their laundry detergent but it's often a reaction to the cheap artificial ingredients found in standard laundry detergents.)

Why do The Laundress detergents work so well? Gwen + Lindsey have put a higher concentration of active ingredients in their line. They use four different enzymes in their main detergents. Enzymes break down food on clothing, but they're expensive to buy — Woolite doesn't have any enzymes. Their Wool + Cashmere shampoo was their first product, and it's still their bestseller. The label on your cashmere likely says "dry clean only", but you can care for your cashmere at home. Their Cashmere shampoo is shampoo-based, so it's very gentle on the hair or yarn of the cashmere and brings out the natural oils of the cashmere. (Dry cleaning strips your cashmere of its oils so it never comes back feeling as soft.) There are no enzymes in the Wool and Cashmere shampoo because that can be damaging to cashmere.

Their Denim Wash works so well because it has a softener and color guard. The softener prevents stiffness for when you hang dry and the color guard helps preserve the dye. The Laundress — and other green detergents— use canola oil or other plant-based oils. One of the most disturbing things I learned in doing laundry research was that traditional fabric softeners, like Snuggle, use animal fat (tallow) as their softening agent. Ick!!

Here's more from Gwen + Lindsey on how they've made green changes in their lifestyle.

1. Three simple ways you've gone greener in your everyday life:
-We recycle all our boxes here at the Laundress
- We use a water cooler to cut down the usage of plastic bottles
- We also use hand towels and not paper towels
- We use real dishes and cutlery when we eat here to cut down on the use of plastic cups, forks and plates.

2. Last green purchase:
Reusable water bottles

3. One green initiative you'd like to see enacted in your own community:
More commercial and office buildings having recycle programs available to their tenants. Most NYC buildings don't have this in place and we need a recycling resource. Also, a more user friendly and efficient way to get filtered water in your home to reduce the plastic bottles we all buy in NY.

4. Best green gift you've given, received, or coveted:
Laundress Wool and Cashmere Shampoo has been given, received and coveted by many including Gwen and myself. This product is helping towards eliminating our exposure to harsh chemicals from the dry cleaning and creating less waste by preserving your item overtime. [more on dry cleaning and green alternatives later this week!]

5. Hardest habit to break to be more eco-friendly:
When you adopt a greener lifestyle, it is easy to accept over time. It becomes part of your nature. I guess, keeping to our no bottled water rule. It is very tempting on a hot day just to stop somewhere and buy it, but the penalty is much worse than the quick water fix.

6. How you want to be greener this year:
Use less plastic bags, always remember my reusable Laundress shoppers with grocery shopping.
Thanks so much to Gwen + Lindsey for being a part of Green Swap!!

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