Is it better to hand wash dishes or use my dishwasher? – Mike of Don Mills, Ont.
Let me ask you this; can you wash and rinse a dirty plate with a cup of water?
Researchers at the University of Bonn in Germany found that, compared to hand washing, dishwashers use only half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap.
The most careful of hand-washers just could not beat the dishwashers we are blessed with today.
The study also rated the level of cleanliness.
Once again, the dishwasher won.
Energy Star claims that using an efficient dishwasher instead of an older one will cut your utility bills by more than $40 a year.
An Energy Star-qualified dishwasher can save you more than 230 hours of time over the course of a year (almost 10 days).
Although, if you find washing dishes therapeutic, who am I to argue with the value of quality me time?
And as usual, there are qualifiers.
Run your machine full, on the light cycle and turn off the heated drying option.
And for the love of Pete, choose an eco-friendly dishwasher and/or dishwashing soap.
If a product doesn’t list ingredients, leave it on the shelf.
Look for products with eco-labels like Green Seal or Environmental Choice’s EcoLogo.
The bottom-line: It’s pretty tough to do a better job by hand than using an energy-efficient dishwasher.
But then there are the big pots (space hogs), knives (that get dull from clanking against dishes), and plastic containers (that release harmful chemicals when washed).
These should be hand-washed.
You can do a more efficient job by scraping food into the compost instead of wasting water rinsing.
Lindsay Coulter gives you the straight goods on living green. Send your questions to email@example.com. For more great tips, visit The David Suzuki Foundation at davidsuzuki.org.