Seven years ago, we teamed up with mom and entrepreneur Karen Smoots to provide EcoDryers (originally called Green Glove Dryers) to schools in more than 70 counties across Michigan.
The Green Glove Dryer was initially created as a solution to a problem Smoots was having at home; a problem many Michigan parents deal with in the winter. Wet gloves, hats and other winter gear shoved in a backpack with artwork, homework and important papers that were supposed to be signed and returned to school.
After trying the typical (and often unsuccessful) methods of propping boots up on heat vents at home and throwing hats and gloves in the dryer, Smoots realized there had to be a better way. So, she did what moms do, she created a solution.
Smoots created the EcoDryer which successfully dried her kids’ winter gear once they got home from school, but that didn’t necessarily solve the wet papers and ruined artwork problem. For that, the items would need to be dried at school – enter Consumers Energy. After a successful pilot in Jackson in 2016, we provided EcoDryers to schools in several counties across the state in 2018-2019 and in 2021 we added nine more counties to the list.
EcoDryers Hit the Slopes
In 2023, we teamed up with Smoots and Boyne Highlands to place 100 dryers in the main eating areas so visitors could dry their gear while they dined or took a break from the slopes. Visitors were very appreciative, and it was so successful there are plans to put additional dryers in other high visibility areas.
So, why is a utility company interested in a product with no obvious connection to electricity or natural gas? That’s one of the reasons why we support it. The Green Glove Dryers use energy from an existing source and don’t require additional energy sources. It is also made in Michigan, and it’s important to us to support local businesses.
Here are a few quick facts about Karen Smoots and the EcoDryer:
MOTHER OF INVENTION: Smoots invented the Green Glove Dryer at her home in Portage, Mich., where she lives with her husband and two sons. The plastic device directs air from heat registers through a series of nozzles to dry gloves, mittens, boots and other items from the inside out.
FOCUS ON HEALTH & WELLNESS: The units help inhibit 99% of bacteria and fungi growth in wet gear with Sanafor® technology. This works to reduce the spread of germs and help reduce cold and flu symptoms.
MADE IN MICHIGAN: These units were all manufactured in Michigan by Diversified Engineering & Plastics, LLC in Jackson, Mich. DEP is a certified woman- and Hispanic-owned company, led by president and CEO Anita-Maria Quillen. Karen and Anita first connected at a Michigan Women Forward pitch competition.
CLEAN ENERGY TRANSFORMATION: We are working with Michigan homes and businesses to use energy more efficiently, go coal-free and use more renewable energy. The Green Glove Dryers use energy/air from a heating vent and do not require an additional energy source. By taking small steps for the betterment of Michigan, we can protect our planet, boost our state’s local economies and lower energy use. Together, we can become a?Force of Change. Learn more at www.ConsumersEnergy.com/change.
For more information on how the invention came to be, the school project and the link to order your own dryer check out this blog: