Doing the Dishes
There are ways to conserve energy and help the environment while doing the dishes — and you don't have to sacrifice your dishwasher to do it. Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany determined that using a dishwasher not only cleaned the dishes better, it saved energy and time. Now you can sit back after dinner and relax, guilt-free.
If you are a diehard for washing dishes by hand or if you do not have a dishwasher, the folks in Bonn have recommendations for getting the most out of hand-washing your dishes:
Remove large pieces of food left on the dishes.
Don't rinse any of the dishes before washing. This is also true if you are using an automatic dishwasher.
Use two sinks — one with hot soapy water to wash and one filled with cooler water to rinse.
Do not go overboard with the soap or detergent. Use only what's needed; it will conserve cleanser and won't over-suds the rinse water.
Phosphorus, an ingredient in many dish detergents, works its way through a wastewater treatment plant, ending up in surface waters and other effluent disposal locations.
In the Chesapeake Bay, lawmakers are working to reduce the concentration of phosphorus from the currently allowed 7 percent to 3 percent. It is hoped that the reduction of phosphorus in the detergent will correspond with a similar reduction in the bay's phosphorus levels, improving water quality and avoiding algae outbreaks. If you are in the market for a new dishwasher, check for Energy Star labels to ensure the model you purchase uses energy efficiently.