PLANO, Texas — Sure, if you’re in the laundry industry – you’ve got the linen. Who in this industry doesn’t? But what do you do with that linen when it’s torn or stained? While ragging out linen is a common practice for laundry facilities, Lori Birdsong, director of Linens for Animals and her husband Dr. Mark Bussan, have a ‘greener’ idea that is catching on like wildfire.
Birdsong and Bussan are co-founders of Linens for Animals, a 501(c) (3) non-profit that supplies donated used linens to animals in need. In less than 6 years, the organization has dispersed over 2 million pounds of donated sanitized linens to over 2000 rescue groups, wildlife rehabilitation facilities and shelters in 24 states – helping hundreds of thousands of animals.
Until now, most donations have been received from North Texas Healthcare Laundry, HCA North Texas Division Laundry, Crothall, and Angelica. However, Birdsong and her husband are now branching out to accept linens directly from hospitals and hotels.
“It’s a win-win situation for the animals and our donors,” Birdsong says. “We receive donated goods that have been washed and sanitized but have been determined to be unfit for reuse due to stains or tears. Of course the animals don’t care if a towel or underpad is stained. They’re just happy to be snuggling up on something warm instead of on dirt or concrete. And we’re a tax deduction for linen facilities. One facility alone wrote off almost a half a million dollars a few years back based on their donations to us.”
Birdsong explains how her unique calling evolved. “I was playing tennis with a friend one day and I saw the tennis pro tossing balls into a garbage bin. I thought it was wasteful so I told him that I’d take the balls. I brought them to animal shelters so that when dogs get adopted they can go home with a new toy.”
Birdsong’s donations were met gratefully by the first two shelters she approached. However, at the next shelter she was told, “We don’t need balls. If you want to do something for us, we need towels, blankets and linens.” Determined to meet that need Birdsong learned about central laundries and linen facilities through a contact at Baylor Hospital in Dallas. Then she contacted HCA North Texas Division Laundry.
“HCA agreed to allow me to pick up some of their linens that they were ragging out – everything that you could imagine for a hospital bed: blankets, flat and fitted sheets, pillowcases, baby blankets and underpads,” Birdsong says. “Then I found North Texas Healthcare Laundry. SCORE!! Initially they were ragging out everything except the underpads. They couldn’t be ragged out so they were paying people to take them to the dump. Essentially, the underpads were costing them money to dispose of so they were happy to give them to us!”
“They immediately began donating underpads to us,” she said. The sanitized underpads are in high demand at Shelters and Animal Rescues. They’re worth their weight in gold because they are used for so many different things. Once, we picked up 18 bins that had approximately 300 underpads in each. They were distributed to five different local shelters and numerous animal rescue organizations.
As Birdsong’s linen requests from animal shelters grew, so did her donations. She began fielding phone calls from prospective donors looking for a greener alternative than ragging out textiles which would eventually end up in landfills. “Linda Rayne, division director of support services for HCA Far West Division has been instrumental in helping us get the word out to the industry – and we are very grateful to her for all she has done,” says Bridsong.
Birdsong wasn’t the only one asking for help. She also fielded calls from like-minded people concerned about waste and the environment. “I recieved a call once from a woman who had just witnessed 15 bins of sheets loaded for a trip to the local dump because the hotel logo was incorrect. It sickened her to think of the waste and she called me and asked if I could help in the future. I said you bet! I will just need to find the shelters and rescues in your area that are in need of linens.”
It doesn’t happen often, but Linens for Animals has also received requests that they have fulfilled outside of the United States. “Crothall in Los Angeles, is one of the few facilities that donates all of the different items that we need, like the products we get in Texas,” Birdsong said. ”In addition to underpads, they give us blankets, towels, baby blankets and sheets. Just this week we facilitated a load of their donated linens to the Philippines. An organization there took down a pit bull dog fighting ring and they are currently housing approximately 250 pit bulls that are in dire need of linens for bathing and bedding and wound care.”
But Birdsong’s work and donations extend past four legged recipients. “When the tornado in Joplin hit, a Church called us because they needed help for the families and animals that had lost their homes and were living in the Church basement. Then we got calls from a shelter in Oklahoma that was decimated. PetSmart Charities donated a 52-foot trailer that we stocked up with goods from North Texas Healthcare Laundry and HCA North Texas Laundry. To our delight both facilities gave us manpower to bag and load that enormous truck! The truck left Dallas, went to Joplin, dropped product there and then went to Oklahoma to give them some linens and then… on to the flood victims in N. and S. Dakota, and ended its trip in Arizona for the fire victims.”
“Our mission statement is to provide comfort for animals in need,” Birdsong says. And that she continues to do. “When we were called to a puppy mill bust, there were 500 dogs that were served. Some just used blankets for comfort and bedding, others used the sterile underpads for surgical procedures, towels were used for bath time and others just enjoyed not laying on the cold ground. Imagine how it felt to them to be laying on a blanket for the first time in their life!”
Birdsong is committed to grow her non-profit until Linens for Animals touches needy animals nationwide. “My goal is to have Linens for Animals in every city and state of the United States because it’s ridiculous that all of these linens are either getting ragged or out ending up in a dump. It’s not only good for the animals – it’s good for the environment,” she says.
ORLANDO, Fla. — When developer Orange Lake Resorts, operator of seven Holiday Inn Club Vacations® resort destinations, announced that they were taking steps towards minimizing the impact of the company’s carbon footprint, they began in the laundry.
For nearly 30 years, Orange Lake Resorts operated the laundry facility for their Orlando resort using three 600-pound washer extractors and six 200- pound dryers. They would process 1,800 pounds of laundry per hour with 3 gallons of water used per pound. The day’s work which consisted of 28,800 pounds of laundry was completed over two shifts.
“We had a facility that was configured when this was a much smaller resort,” said Scott Hedrick, VP, Rooms Division, Orange Lake Resorts. “And when you look at it, if you were to design a laundry for the size we are now, you wouldn’t have installed the equipment that was in there.”
Prior to laundry’s installation of new equipment, team members were using 600-pound washers to process goods. It was extremely manual work since the Orange Lake staff would have to sort goods by type, manually load soiled goods in the washer, and manually unload heavier, damp goods from the washer.
Then the team members would manually split the goods up among three 200-pound dryers and send other items to the flatwork aisle. “That type of processing goods was not ergonomically friendly,” says Hendrick. “And it just didn’t make sense. So we began to seek out a proposal that would not only make the laundry ergonomically friendly, it would save money on utilities.”
With the help of Bill Bell of Steiner-Atlantic, a local equipment distributor, the wheels were set in motion for a redesign of the existing resort’s laundry.
At the center of the 30,000 square foot re-designed laundry is the Milnor 76039-07 Pulse Flow 150lb CBW system with single stage press, shuttle, four double cake system dryers, and a four compartment weighing loading conveyor. This replaced five of the 200-pound dryers and three 600-pound washers.
Aside from the ergonomic benefits of the tunnel over large openpocket washers, the tunnel’s process times are shorter and quality of linens and towels are enhanced, now enjoying a longer lifespan. In addition, Orange Lake has doubled their hourly production, eliminating the need for a costly second shift. The new Milnor CBW has joined a Speed Check Cart dump and soil conveyor, two smaller Milnor washers, 275- and 140-pound, and a 60-pound Unimac Washer. There is a 200-pound ADC dryer that was retained for the smaller washers. The laundry also has a Fulton 50 hp steam boiler with a Lochnvar steam bundler tank for hot water storage.
The new equipment processes 4,000 pounds of laundry per hour, using only 0.3 to 0.4 gallons of fresh water per pound, with the day’s work of 30,000 pounds of laundry finishing in just one shift. Prior to installing the CBW, the laundry’s water consumption was three gallons per pound.
The reduction in utilities and 90 percent water consumption were not the only benefits associated with the new equipment. The CBW’s four-compartment CONWA (loading conveyor) improves labor conditions because it requires less handling by the staff. Once sorted, the soiled goods are loaded on the conveyor to be discharged in the tunnel’s load chute. After the wash, goods are automatically discharged to an MP1604 40- Bar single stage press, which removes excess moisture from the goods. After extraction, an automatic cake shuttle transports the goods to waiting dryers. All of this automation has improved the working conditions in the laundry.
The Orlando resort, with 2,478 villas and an average of 511,853 annual guests, processes eight million pounds of laundry per year. The new equipment allows the company the ability to grow their laundry operation to process up to approximately 10.5 million pounds of laundry per year.
“In addition to the savings seen in natural gas and water, the laundry is processing approximately 30,000 pounds of goods in an 8-hour shift,” says Bell. “Before it would take 16 hours to process 30,000 pounds. Now they have the ability to grow another 2-3 million pounds a year without having to re-build or add to the laundry.”
“It’s a step towards reducing our impact on the environment on a daily basis and changing how we operate to create significant efficiencies and cost savings while positively impacting the guest experience through improved linen quality. It’s also a pleasure to improve the everyday workplace for our skilled laundry team members, who are truly the ‘heart of our house,’” says Hedrick
NEW YORK, N.Y. — New York’s Upper Westside residents can now say, ‘Life’s Good’ when doing laundry thanks to LG Electronics’ new Coinmach Laundry Lounge.
W. CONSHOHOCKEN, Pa. — Interested parties are invited to join in the development of a proposed new ASTM International standard that will identify and define sustainable best management practices that are used in commercial laundry facilities to reduce their impact on the environment.
ASTM WK35985, Practice for Sustainable Laundry Best Management Practices, is being developed by Subcommittee D13.40 on Sustainability of Textiles under the jurisdiction of ASTM International Committee D13 on Textiles.
According to Gary D. Gramp, Textile Rental Services Association, and chairman of the task group developing ASTM WK35985, the commercial laundry industry has made a commitment to sustainability. "We are looking to further reduce our carbon footprint and enhance our environmental stewardship by developing ASTM WK35985," says Gramp. "Our goal is to encourage the implementation of best management practices for sustainability at all commercial laundry facilities."
Gramp says that the methodology contained in ASTM WK35985 for assessing best management practices will be used in the commercial laundry industry to certify that the laundry process of a given establishment is sustainable and compliant to the standard. Areas to be covered in the proposed standard include:
- Water reuse technology;
- Boiler heat recovery;
- Wastewater heat recovery;
- Environmentally friendly low temperature detergents;
- Nonylphenol ethoxylate-free detergents;
- Wastewater pretreatment (mechanical);
- Advanced wastewater treatment;
- Energy audits;
- Energy-efficient lighting;
- Solar energy;
- Fleet optimization;
- Fleet vehicle alternative fuels;
- Spill prevention plan; and
- Preventative boiler maintenance.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently released an action plan addressing nonylphenol (NP) and nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs), used in a wide variety of industrial applications such as laundry detergents.
Quick Rinse - News From Around The World
Got Bedbugs? Help Is Here
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Ecolab Inc. and the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute (AHLEI) launched the www.bedbugtoolkit.com, a free online resource to help hotel owners and operators stop bed bugs before they spread. The kit features downloadable materials on how to train staff to detect bed bugs early and actions to take when they suspect a guest room is infested. The digital toolkit includes a fact sheet about how bed bugs spread, their life-cycle and where they like to hide; a poster on bed bug detection; an instructional video showing where to inspect for bed bugs and what signs to look for; and a convenient pocket card for housekeeping staff with directions on how to inspect a room and what to do if bed bugs are found.