Not Your Typical Greenwashing: Wash Cycle Laundry’s Bike-Centric Business Model

A new wash-and-fold laundry service, Wash Cycle Laundry, avoids the three big (and not-so-sustainable) components of the delivery and manufacturing industry: trucks, parking lots and loading docks. As a result, the bike-centric delivery model is far less harmful to the environment than its conventional counterparts.

The small Philadelphia-based start-up uses what a huge logistics company like FedEx would call “the right vehicle for the right route,” says Gabe Mandujano, founder of the company and former manager of strategic alliances at the Center for Sustainable Transport in Mexico (CTS-México), a member of the EMBARQ Network, the producer of this blog. By orienting his “social enterprise” around his view of Philadelphia’s downtown urban landscape, Mandujano has created a business model perfectly suited to the bike.

We profiled Wash Cycle Laundry a few months ago when the business was still in its nascent stages. For the past eight weeks, the company’s two part-time bicyclists have been picking up items in need of washing from a handful of businesses in West Philadelphia and Center City. Beyond using bikes, the company also reduces its carbon footprint by depositing laundry, such as dirty gym towels and table cloths, at downtown laundromats, as opposed to driving out to suburban facilities. “This changes the entire configuration of laundry set-up by providing better service and reducing distances traveled,” Mandujano says.