The glasses in our sink are stuffed as tightly as a Japanese subway car during rush hour. “These are not clean,” my 16-year-old daughter sniffs as she removes yet another tumbler from the dishwasher to add to the mass.
“Oh, yes they are,” I chirp.
“No…..They’re definitely not.” She holds the glass up to the light. “There are fingerprints and a gritty film on them.”
“That’s green-clean,” I say brightly. “We’re going green.”
“You see, our energy efficient dishwasher takes twice as long to run as our old cheap one, but it saves energy because the water isn’t as hot. It doesn’t get all the grease off the dishes, but after I register it with our utility company, we’ll save 17 cents a month!”
“But what if I want the glasses to be as clear and sparkling as they were before?” she whines.
“Hmmm.” I think a minute. “We could hand wash them with hot water and then put them in the dishwasher.”
“But doesn’t that waste water AND energy….not to mention time?” She waves the grimy glass in my face. “I thought the whole point of having a dishwasher was that you didn’t have to wash the dishes?”
“Well, that’s all in the past now,” I assure her. “Besides it won’t be that much extra work to wash the glasses because now we have to rinse the plates too.”
“Why?” she sighs.
“They used to put tiny little disposals in dishwashers to grind up food scraps so they would flow down the drain. But the disposals used WAAAAAAY too much energy, so the manufacturers took them out. Now food particles clog the drain until the dishwasher dumps water all over the floor. That’s when we’ll know the drain’s clogged.”
“Aren’t there any other options?”
“I called the appliance store to see if they had any suggestions. They told me to add a second detergent to get the dishes cleaner. When I stopped by to pick it up, I asked the store manager to tell me the magic ingredient. He said, ‘phosphates.’”
“Weren’t phosphates banned because they were bad for the environment and caused algae to grow in streams?” asks my daughter, a card-carrying member of the high school environmental club.
“Well, yes, but that was when they were IN detergents. Apparently if you repackage them and call them a finishing rinse, they’re perfectly legal.”
Just as she opens her mouth to reply, we hear a loud “AAARRRRGH” from the basement. Moments later my husband emerges with a squashed X-box control. As he hands it to me he says, “Why is the basement hall so dark? I nearly sprained my ankle when I stepped on this contraption.”
“LED lights,” I answer crisply, “they use one-fourth as much energy as our big ole incandescent flood lights.”
“But they put out about 10 percent as much light,” he complains.
“No matter,” I say, kissing him on the cheek, “We’re going green.”