Issue Date: February 21, 2011
Dishwashing: Back To The Future
The article on alternative chemistries for removing phosphates from automatic dishwashing products was excellent and quite interesting (C&EN, Jan. 24, page 12). I would like to see more coverage of this and other down-to-earth applications of “consumer” chemistry in a changing world.
I got to thinking about the use of polymers and other substitutes for phosphates that aid in the washing process but do not have complete biodegradability in the water reclamation process. Although these are a substitute for phosphates and perhaps a good intermediary until something truly green can be developed and integrated into these products (as some manufacturers are striving for), it seems to me that all this whining and lambasting manufacturers for spots on stemware smacks of a persistent sense of entitlement now firmly hard-coded in the American consumer’s DNA.
I suggest that those who couldn’t possibly live without their dishwashers return to using good old soap and hot water as our parents and grandparents did. Doing the dishes by hand after a meal is quick, a good way to spend quality time with a spouse, uses less water and fossil-fuel energy than automated dishwashing, and doesn’t require the use of chemical cocktails to get clean and spot-free dishes. It requires only a little discipline, and the overall reduction to one’s carbon footprint is greater than all the effort of trying to find a truly green automatic dishwasher product.
Better living doesn’t necessarily come from modern chemistry.
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