It's not easy being green
Folks in Spokane County in Washington state are singing along with Kermit the Frog "It's not easy being green." The county passed a law banning the sale of dishwasher detergent containing phosphates with the intention that residents would use the ecologically correct brands. Well, they did and didn't like them; it seems they leave dishes dirty, not removing grease, stains and small pieces of food. Yech! Detergents with phosphates do that but
Phosphates — the main cleaning agent in many detergents and household cleaners — break down grease and remove stains. However, the chemicals are difficult to remove in wastewater treatment plants and often wind up in rivers and lakes, where they promote the growth of algae. And algae gobble up oxygen in the water that fish need to survive.
Phosphates have been banned nationwide in laundry detergents since 1993.
So how do Spokane County residents solve the problem? Preferring foodless, greaseless and clean dishes to being ecologically correct, they hop into their cars and drive at least 10 extra miles--yes, you got it, using more gas--to a phosphate allowing neighborhood and load up. Or, do as Ken Beck, one opponent of the ban, does.
Beck has taken to washing his dishes on his machine's pots-and-pans cycle, which takes longer and uses five gallons more water. Beck wonders if that isn't as tough on the environment as phosphates.
"How much is this really costing us?" Beck said. "Aren't we transferring the environmental consequences to something else?"
Good observation. After all, those ecologically correct light bulbs which cost more for a harsher, more aggravating light, contain mercury, making them more difficult to dispose safely.
Listen to Kermit.