Silverthorne company wins state award for ‘green’ dry cleaning |

Silverthorne company wins state award for ‘green’ dry cleaning

Summit Daily file photo/Reid Williams Silverthorne-based Colorado Mountain Cleaners' green technology has won the company an environmental award.

SILVERTHORNE – Heather and Tom Rowland and their business partner Don Parks received an award from the state last week recognizing their efforts to protect the environment at their dry cleaning operations in Silverthorne.They were one of 26 companies – and the only dry cleaner in the state – awarded this year.”We’re in good company,” Tom said. “Seldom has the word environmental leadership and dry cleaning been used in the same sentence.”The three own Colorado Mountain Cleaners at 268 Summit Place Shopping Center and use a product called GreenEarth in their cleaning process – the only dry cleaners in the mountain area that does so.

GreenEarth, developed by General Electric and Proctor & Gamble, uses silicone rather than perchlorethylene, or “perc,” a commonly used dry cleaning solvent listed as a harmful chemical by the Environmental Protection Agency.”You still can use it,” Heather said. “But it’s harder and harder for dry cleaners because it has to be hauled away; it has to be dealt with very carefully. If it were to go on concrete, it’s so strong it goes down into the ground.”Silicone, on the other hand, is chemically inert and doesn’t interact with clothing. It carries the detergent to the clothes and rinses oil and dirt. Because it doesn’t interact with clothing, the Rowlands are comfortable cleaning such delicate items as suede and silk.The byproduct of the cleaning operation is so benign, they could toss it in their backyard if they wanted to, Heather said. Instead, they used to have Waste Management pick it up; now that they’ve earned state approvals, they are permitted to place the material in containers and haul it to the landfill.

It was easy for the Rowlands to make the decision to use GreenEarth instead of perc for a variety of reasons, Tom said.The Rowland’s realize the gradual increase in the use of GreenEarth could increase competition for them.”I hope it does change,” Tom said, adding that his GreenEarth dealer would consult him before allowing another “green” dry cleaner to use the product in the immediate area. “It’s better for everybody.”GreenEarth is comparable in price to perc – and in some states, including California and Texas where lawmakers have implemented stricter environmental regulations regarding perc, it’s up to 25 percent less expensive.

The silver award came about when the Rowlands asked the state Department of Public Health and Environment to conduct an inspection on the plant’s operations in Silverthorne to ensure they were in compliance with state laws. Inspectors then nominated Colorado Mountain Cleaners under the Hazardous Materials and Waste Management division’s environmental leadership program for its use of alternative, non-toxic dry cleaning solvent.Once the company has been open for a year – the Rowlands opened it in February – they will be eligible for the gold award.Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or at

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