23 July 2008

EnviroHint #1: Do Your Dishes Right!

A few weeks ago, I promised to start talking a little bit more about simple ways to live a healthier and more environmentally sensitive life. I'm going to be taking cues from various outside sources and trying to integrate them with my own experiences and the experiences of friends and family. I have the tendency to lean towards the vague in my own general writing, but for the purposes of these posts, I will be as specific as possible.

For my first "hint", I will reference a tiny booklet from Vanity Fair magazine called A Green Guide to Life and its list of "50 Ways to Help Save the Planet." Today's discussion addresses #3 on that list and something that ALL of us have to deal with: doing the dishes. According to Consumer Reports,
"pre-rinsing dishes does not necessarily improve a dishwasher's ability to clean them. By skipping the wash before the wash, you can save up to 20 gallons of water per dishload."
Interesting and I did not know that. But what if you don't have a dishwasher? Then you have to hand wash your dishes in the sink. Well my suggestion to you, whether you wash your dishes in the sink or the dishwasher, is not to pre-rinse but to let them soak before washing. Basically it's like all those dish soap commercials say....they are concentrated to "cut through the grease"..... but no matter what type of dish soap you use, all you need is a little dollop and then some water to soak on the soiled area of the dish. To give you an example, I find that this works particularly well with dishes that have had oatmeal in them. Oatmeal gets crusty quickly and is hard to wash off. If you stand there and scrape at it by hand for 30 seconds or more, you are wasting more water than if you fill the dish with a little water, let it stand and let the crusty bits soften for a while, and then go back and wash it properly in just a few seconds (when the old food presumably washes away).

This is kind of gross and not terribly "wonder-full", but I've found that it does save a little bit of water and that's the gist of the discussion. Also to my Mother, who for many years has thought I was trying to avoid doing the dishes entirely....this is what I was doing! Soaking them!

1 comment:

Clair said...

You could always adopt the hiker-dishwashing system. No soap, just a strong stomach. And water to the dirty pot (your only dish), scrap down the sides with your spoon or o-so-clean fingers. slosh it around... and then drink it.

Clean dishes and stay hydrated! Yay!