We needed a dry cleaner to help us press Papa Joe’s (grandfather’s) shirts. We obviously didn’t want to choose a place that was too expensive, but honestly it came down to the recycling program they offered. We tried out quite a few places and we knew we had hit nirvana, when we saw all the clothes spinning around on the conveyor on mismatched hangers. We loved it!
The dry cleaning industry uses about 3.3 billion wire hangers each year totaling to 312,000 pounds of steel that just ends up in landfills!
First off, try to avoid dry cleaning when you can; most of them use chemicals that the EPA has deemed both a health and environmental hazard. In our case, we really just needed help keeping up with ironing, but we still got a hanger with each of the shirts that came back. Of course these hangers could all be reused at home, but most of us already have better hangers for our clothes, and the metal ones from the dry cleaners just keep piling up. After a few trips to the dry cleaners, people get frustrated with the pile of hangers, and off to the landfill they go. Steel used once and thrown away; we can definitely do better!
There are a few cities that accept hangers in their recycling program, but they are few and far between and Dallas isn't one of them. The odd shape of hangers with the hook creates a sorting hazard and often jams and damages the recycling machinery. However, because hangers are made of steel they are definitely recyclable; TerraCycle is a great resource to help you find a specialty recycler in your area that will take your metal hangers. If you do choose to go the recycling route, make sure to remove any cardboard, paper, or foam before you drop them off.
We chose the easier (and in our opinion, slightly more sustainable) route of just taking them back to the dry cleaners so our hangers could continue living the purposeful life they were made for. Remember: reduce, reuse, and then recycle. We try to think of how something can be reused before sending it off to be recycled, and in this case the answer was easy and obvious. So, find a dry cleaners that will take your hangers back and do your part to keep all of that perfectly good steel (that took significant amounts of energy and resources to make) out of the landfill.