My dishes get a helping hand (Day 118)…

June 26, 2007


Another appliance bites the dust today, as I unplug — at least figuratively speaking, I’m not sure I can actually reach the socket — my dishwasher.

Now, I know there’s a lot of debate in the green blogosphere about whether dishwashers use more water than handwashing or less, but it sort of depends on the unit itself, how modern and efficient it is, whether or not you’re using the appropriate cycle and/or the air-dry function, the quantity of dishes getting cleaned, etc.

All I know is that my dishwasher sucked to begin with, and after I switched to Seventh Gen detergent, things got worse; I kept having to rinse everything beforehand, then soak the spoons afterwards to get all the persistent oatmeal residue off. On top of this, because I have so much stuff that needs to be cleaned by hand anyway, like my French press and champagne flutes, it would end up that there’d be a massive pile of dishes in the sink every night and only a couple stinky bowls in the dishwasher.

So I figure as long as I’m careful about how much water I use, keep it cold or lukewarm rather than hot, and rinse sparingly, it’ll be best to do my dishes with old-fashioned elbow grease.

Photo courtesy of Wenspics at Flickr

I dare try to air dry (Day 45)…

April 14, 2007

No, not my hair, god forbid — my plates! The recommendation to switch the setting on my dishwasher from “heat dry” to “air dry” came from a helpful Thistle reader (I forget who it was, but feel free to take credit in the Comments section below). It was an idea that never would have crossed my mind, being yet another function on yet another appliance that doesn’t get noticed until something goes wrong.

Of course, something is going wrong … global warming! (OK, I don’t even think that made sense, but I can’t resist a classic CNN transition.)

Anyway, sure enough, I knelt down today to examine the control panel of my dishwasher and there it was: the button that really should have said, “To save the environment, press here” on it.

So from now on, because my dishes aren’t in a rush to go anywhere, they’ll be dried by nothing but gravity, time and air. Almost sounds poetic, doesn’t it?

I miss my toxic pouches (Day 14)…

March 14, 2007

Dishwasher Detergent

When it comes to eco-brand hierarchies, Seventh Generation is up there. It’s a bit like the financially-secure-but-Guatemalan-pants-wearing cousin of Proctor&Gamble — it may be based in perpetually inoffensive, NPR-loving Vermont, but it can also be found dominating the competition in the cleaning supplies aisle at every hippy store in North America.

If it weren’t such a wholesome company, it would probably be caught wearing an ironic T-shirt like this — in fact, it doesn’t wanna brag or anything, but one of its tissue boxes even scored a cameo in the upcoming Molly Shannon film Year of the Dog (IMDb forgot to list it in the credits, but that was probably just a technical glitch or something).

But while you can take Seventh Generation out of Vermont, it seems you can’t take the Vermont out of Seventh Generation. The company, which got its name from an Iroquois law, has a website that puts corporate press releases next to pictures of mothers holding babies, children holding puppies and seniors holding watering cans; you can either follow the link to supporting scientific data, or the link to a blog called The Inspired Protagonist, about “cutting the ties of negativity that bind us.”

But to the point: I needed some more dishwasher detergent, and figured I’d give this brand a try. Until now, I’ve been using these wicked gelatin pouches filled with neon goo and multi-coloured powder that really do the trick — they even come with extra bleach … and a “Fresh Rapids” scent! Still, I had high hopes for SG, because so far my green product switches have all been a success.

The final verdict — meh. It cleaned at least 90 to 95% of the dishes, but the almond butter residue on a few knives remained firmly in tact. Also, instead of that bleachy-clean smell that wafts up when you open the dishwasher door, there was more of a neutral-to-somewhat-stale-cheese odour. Maybe I just need to use more of it, but right now, I’m in phosphate withdrawal.