Archive for August, 2009
We’ve had quite the week this past week. First, Jeremy had a flat tire and had to have all of his tires and struts replaced on his car. The next day we had our dishwasher break and leak water all over our Purgo floor, resulting in us needing a new dishwasher AND floor. And a couple of days later our air conditioner went out. All of this has resulted in us having to make a bunch of repairs and purchase some new things. Between having to buy a new dishwasher and having to hand wash a bunch of dishes I started wondering – is it greener to hand wash dishes or to have a dishwasher do it for you?
Well, according to Treehugger.com the answer is actually to use a dishwasher. According to their website the average dishwasher uses 6 gallons of water, whereas if you hand wash your dishes every minute you have the water running you are using 2 gallons of water. And, if you have an Energy Star rated dishwasher the average cycle only uses 4 gallons of water. The amount of energy your dishwasher uses to run and heat the water is usually less than what your hot water heater would use to heat the water if you are hand washing the dishes. As far as I can tell however, their calculations do not take in to consideration the actual manufacturing of the dishwasher or environmental impact of disposing of it when it breaks (and if you have our luck that is way sooner that it should be). So, you are saving water and energy by running a dishwasher as opposed to hand washing, and most homes and apartments come with a dishwasher anyway, so if you have a working one, it is more energy efficient to use it. The manufacturing and disposal piece of the equation really only comes in to play when your dishwasher breaks and you are trying to decide whether to buy a new one or go back to hand washing.
We however, still opted to buy a dishwasher, but did get the consumer reports #1 rated dishwasher this time (a Kenmore), which is an Energy Star rated appliance. Hopefully, this will last longer than our last one and use less energy as well.
If you are looking for other ways to save water and energy in washing your dishes, try these tips:
For a dishwasher -
Try running your dishwasher on a “light” load cycle if you have one, you may find that it does the job just fine and will run for shorter and save you in water and electricity, especially if you don’t have any caked on food.
Skip the “heated dry” cycle and just let your dishes air dry to save on energy.
Only run full loads of dishes.
Use environmentally friendly dishwashing soap without phosphates in them. We’ve tried both 7th Generation and Palmolive’s Eco environmentally friendly option and liked the Palmolive version better. But try a few before you give up on the idea completely if you are not getting the clean you like.
For hand washing -
Turn off the water when you are not using it. I have to remind myself to do this or I tend to just leave the water going, and at 2 gallons a minute that is quite a bit off water!
Reuse dishes and water glasses, etc. more than once before washing them.
Again, use an environmentally friendly dishwashing soap.
If you have a pressure sprayer along with your faucet use it to rinse dishes and you will probably use less water.
We have been doing some serious summer cleaning at our house this week. I finally went through all my pre-Jacob clothes to figure out what still fit and what was never going to fit again, which was the majority of it. I reorganized our closet, got rid of worn out shoes, a computer we were no longer using, and books that we have already read and no longer need. Due to all of this we had a boatload of stuff to dump. We took the clothes to donate, the books to a bookstore and sold the ones worth money online, and took the computer and all of our leftover old metal hangers to Boulder’s Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (CHARM).
I had never been there before and was kind of dreading going with the baby because I thought it would be a pain to take the computer in along with Jacob but was hoping someone there could help me. It turned out to be much easier than i thought. You pull up to a drive up booth, tell them what you have to donate. Some items they charge you for due to the recession and less demand for recycled products. It cost $25 to dispose of the computer and the hangers I had were free to recycle. Once you pay at the booth for what you are recycling you pull around to drive up bins that are set up for all of the different items they take. It worked great for me because Jacob was asleep in the car, and I just pulled up, put my stuff in the bin and was able to drive off. Now I’m really excited I have a place to take things I no longer need and I don’t have to worry about how to manage it all with a baby.
CHARM takes a large number of items, which is nice because if you are cleaning things out you don’t have to make multiple stops to get rid of your stuff.
Books – Children’s books are donated, books in good condition are resold, and the rest are recycled.
Computers – Donated to Jared Polis Foundation or recycled if they are in poor condition.
Cell Phones – Refurbished or donated depending on the condition.
Plastic Bags – Recycled into wood alternatives for decks.
Printer Cartridges – Most brands are refilled and reused.
Textiles – Donated if in good condition or recycled into rags.
Worn Tennis Shoes – Recycled into materials for resurfacing tracks and playgrounds.
Cooking Oil – Recycled into biodiesel.
Big #2 Plastic Items (for example plastic furniture) – Recycled into railroad ties.
Toilets, Sinks and Urinals – Recycled into road surfacing material.
You can find a more extensive list on their website and they also list other places in the area that will take your items, for example many dry cleaners in the area will take wire hangers you no longer need. I’ll be going back next week already because our dishwasher just broke and they will recycle dishwashers as well, so I don’t have to figure out what on earth to do with our broken dishwasher.
You are currently browsing the Becoming Green blog archives for August, 2009.