J&P Cleaners Aims to Be Greenest Local Laundry — With Help From Neighbors

Myra Vargas of J&P Cleaners paused for a photo at Tres Gatos on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.

Chris Helms

Myra Vargas of J&P Cleaners paused for a photo at Tres Gatos on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.

The last time entrepreneur Myra Vargas was pregnant, she had to keep away from her family’s dry cleaning business to avoid a chemical that probably causes cancer.

And when her children were young, they couldn’t spend time at the family place of business.

But Vargas is hoping that won’t be the case if her niece and coworker, Diana Vargas, decides to have another baby. J&P Cleaners is hoping to become one of the first cleaners in Massachusetts to stop using tetrachloroethylene, better known as perc, and instead use a method called “wet cleaning.”

“We can be the first. We can be a good example,” Vargas said in a Wednesday interview. “Why not?”

But ditching the old dry cleaning technology to go green isn’t cheap. The change figures to cost about $80,000. The Vargas family won a $15,000 state grant. To get the rest of the way, with the help of the community group Jamaica Plain New Economy Transition, they’ve set up a Kickstarter campaign. It’s raised $2,405 so far.

The Vargas family is moving their cleaning plant from 4166 Washington St. in Roslindale Square to 300B Centre St. in Jackson Square. They’ll keep the Rozzie Square location open, but only as a drop-off point, not a location where the cleaning is actually done.

JP’s Chuck Collins told a neighborhood business group on Wednesday that JP New Economy Transition has been reaching out to several local businesses to help them move away from dangerous solvents. For instance, they’re working with Keegan’s Service Station.

And he said JP is a great neighborhood to put its money where its mouth is for a less toxic local environment by participating in fundraising campaigns like the one for J&P Cleaners.

“We think crowd sourcing is a model for any local business,” Collins told the JP Business & Professional Association during its Wednesday meeting at Tres Gatos.

As a business decision, Vargas said the switchover would put her family’s business ahead of the curve. California has already banned perc, and Massachusetts could follow suit.

Even if you don’t get your cleaning done at J&P, the following local laundries use the J&P facilities:

For more information on the Kickstarter campaign, follow this link or view the video embedded below.