Let’s talk dish washing…

Being ecological and sustainable is not just about what we buy and use but also about the waste we generate. Continuing with the previous post, let’s see what we generate and how to make it eco friendly or as eco friendly as possible. Ready, Steady….

What else goes to make grey water in our homes?

Wastewater from your dishwasher and dishwashing: l_10100831_004Shall we make a list of all that goes into washing dishes, be it from hand washing or by using a dishwasher? Here we go: dish soap/gel/tablets, glass brightener, dish rinse, dishwasher salt, dishwasher cleaner…ARGH!!!! That’s quite a barrage of products that go into not just washing dishes but then down the drain! Oh My!

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just cut on needless, chemical products?

Some of the basic ingredients in dish soap include surfactants, preservatives, fragrance, color as well as active or inactive ingredients. This site has some eye popping info on the chemicals and their effect on our body. One particular chemical is worrying for its environmental effect:

220px-Triclosan.svgTriclosan:It is found in most liquid dishwashing detergents and hand soaps labeled “antibacterial.” It is an aggressive antibacterial agent that can promote the growth of drug-resistant bacteria. Studies have now found dangerous concentrations of triclosan in rivers and streams, where it is toxic to algae. Read all about it here.

So, what can we do?

  • Use simple detergents and soaps with short ingredient lists,
  • Avoid antibacterial products with triclosan for home use. See the Environmental Working Group’s site ,
  • Don’t go crazy buying needless products!
  • Use simple liquid castile soap,
  • Make your own!

Dishwashing and Dishwasher powder/liquid

Recipe 1: The Dishwasher powderSin título
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • ½ cup citric acid
  • ½ cup salt (for the scrubbing action)
  • Container

Mix all the ingredients in the container and use 1 Tbsp per load.

Recipe 2: The Old Fashioned liquid:
Ingredients:
  • About 500gms of soap flakes
  • 4.5 litres of water

Method:

Put everything in a pot and heat over medium until the liquid begins to boil. Keep stirring until all the soap has melted and then lower the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes. Let it cool and then pour into your chosen container. It takes only about a teaspoon of the liquid for each sink full of hot water.

Dishwasher Rinse and Cleaner:

Rinse:
  • Use vinegar as a rinse by filling the dishwasher compartment with it.
Cleaner:
  • Once in a while, run an empty dishwasher with vinegar: It’s the same concept as running a vinegarload in your washing machine. You simply toss a cup of white vinegar into the bottom of an empty dishwasher and run a normal cycle. It cleans out old food particles to keep your dishwasher smelling fresh
Dishwasher salt:
This is different to table salt as it additive-free and also comes in bigger granules/flakes and is used to soften the water. Here is some info. Have you ever thought what happens to it once it passes through our dishwasher? Salt is a major pollutant when discharged into the environment. When discharged with treated wastewater into rivers and lakes, chloride (Cl-) can harm aquatic life and damage agricultural crops by causing leaf burn or drying of leaf tissue, thus reducing crop yields. Over time, discharge from salt water softeners will lead to increasing levels of sodium in fresh water supplies, and excessive chloride levels in soil.
  • The best way to avoid discharging tons of salt into the sewers is to replace existing traditional salt-based water softeners with newer salt-free water softeners. Catalytic-conversion media can be used to neutralize calcium and magnesium and reduce scale buildup.

SIDE NOTE:

Scrubs/sponges/scourers:
Something else I worry about are the synthetic scrubs we use and throw away with our garbage as they get worn. Have you ever wondered what they are made of and how biodegradable they really are? You know the ones I am talking about:

scotch brite

I checked out the website of a very famous brand many people use and there was no mention of the composition of their scrub/scourer/sponge. I went on a livechat with one of their agents and was eventually told that they are made of aluminium oxide and plastic. Ugh. So what do I recommend? Happily, there are many options:

 

sponge
Wooden brush, sponge-scourer and luffa
  • Wire wool! See a comparative with the above here. It ain’t my favourite but sparing use will guaranty a long life.
  • I use a wooden brush wth natural bristles to scrub the worst away.
  • I usually have a small collection of loofahs or luffas – most people use them as a body scrub but they serve perfectly well to scrub dishes too. They are the dried out, fibrous husk of a very edible asian gourd.
  • An alternative for those of you who shy away from unfamiliar things is the eco sponge-scourer, made from recycled plastic, walnut shells and cellulose – looks exactly like its unfriendly cousin.
  • For more ideas, look here
Kitchen Wipes:
We all use a multiple of these in our homes, don’t we? Most are made from microfibers. You can find out all about how these are made and how they work here.
PrintFor those of you who are too darn lazy to check out the link, let me highlight an important aspect of microfibres – most microfiber cloths are made of polyester, polyamide or other polymers such as nylon. These compounds are derived mainly from crude oil or coal. Aside from the environmental issues associated with creating these plastics, burning of materials such as nylon can produce toxic smoke. Additionally, these materials aren’t readily degradable and will be with us for some time to come. But, did you know how truly  harmful micro fibers are to our environment? To waterbodies and the species which reside there?
In the summer of 2012, in collaboration with the 5 Gyres Institute, Dr. Sheri Mason, then the Associate Professor of Chemistry at SUNY-Fredonia and coordinator of its Environmental Sciences program, lead the first-ever study of plastic pollution focused solely on the Great Lakes in an effort to discover just how much plastic there is polluting the Great Lakes and at the same time raise local and regional awareness about this issue. Her research was shocking as we found that microfibers from our clothes etc have ended up contaminating water bodies ( Here is a link to a video) and worse, as per her research a few years later, the Great Lakes fish are swallowing micro-plastic fibers that have found their way into the waste stream from washing machines. And the fish that ingest them include species sought after by Great Lakes anglers, among them: brown trout, cisco—also known as “lake herring”—and perch. You really should read this article.
UGH UGH UGH
More to come in the next post.
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s