The Latest Barometer of Gentrification: Eco-Friendly Dry Cleaners

"Green", "natural", or "organic" dry cleaning; if you live in TriBeCa or have visited an affluent neighborhood recently, you may have noticed this trend. Elizabeth A. Harris looks at the new sign that "your rent is about to rise."
February 19, 2013, 7am PST | Jonathan Nettler | @nettsj
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"Dry cleaners in the United States first began to avoid traditional chemicals and embrace words like 'green,' 'natural' and 'organic' about 15 years ago, and they have since blanketed the affluent sections of Manhattan, from the Upper East Side down to TriBeCa," notes Harris. "In recent years, they have crept farther afield, up to Harlem and out to places like Greenpoint and Bushwick in Brooklyn, joining the head-to-tail butchers and the boutique bike shops as an unofficial marker of gentrification in New York."

“'We’ve gone way beyond organic food, and Starbucks is passé,' Mitchell Moss, a professor of urban policy and planning at New York University, said of two prototypical signposts that your rent is about to rise. 'Organic cleaners have become a barometer.'”

"And though a dry cleaner may be more environmentally friendly than his brethren, industry experts say that popular buzzwords like organic' and 'natural' do not tell you anything specific about what is going on your clothes."

“'It’s not coming from the ground,' Alan Spielvogel, the technical director of the National Cleaners Association, said of any alternative solvent that is described as natural. 'It’s a chemical.'”

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Published on Monday, February 18, 2013 in The New York Times
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