Are you better washing your dishes by hand or machine? Listen to find out!
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Music by Richie Colosimo - @parmageddon_
Artwork by Bronson Lockwood - @bronson.lockwood
Hi, everyone. Welcome to Eco Go Go. I'm your host, Elyse Kardos. Thanks so much for joining me, guys. This is my first episode, and I'm so excited that you're all excited about sustainability too. I wanted to start this podcast because being sustainable on an individual level isn't very clear. There's a lot of conflicting information out there, and it's hard to know if you're actually making good choices. Also there seems to be, and I think we all know this, a stigma surrounding this topic that you need to be a tree hugger to live a greener life. And that can't be the case. We need to stop having that expectation. If we all did a little bit, it would go such a long way. It's 2020, and I get that we like our conveniences and luxuries. So this is about finding what works in your lifestyle and making reasonable sacrifices at your desired pace. So don't feel guilted or shamed that you need to adopt all of these suggestions right away. Find what works for you. The exciting thing about this, you'll find that there are multiple things you can try and adopt into your everyday practices. And it can be as simple as pressing a button. So onto the topic this week on our first episode, the thing that got me most excited and passionate about starting this podcast is the dirty dish dilemma. Are you better off washing your dishes by hand or using a dishwasher? And if you have no choice, but to hand wash your dishes, how can you be most sustainable with your practices? So get excited! Some terms that we'll need to cover.:
Life cycle emissions. This is the total greenhouse gas emissions of a product from what we call cradle to grave. So this factors in all of the emissions from resource extraction to manufacturing, using the product yourself as the consumer and disposing of the product. Use phase emissions are total greenhouse gas emissions of a product while it's being used by the consumer CO2e. If I refer to that at all in this episode that refers to the carbon dioxide equivalent. This is the standard unit of greenhouse gas measurement on the basis of their global warming potential potential. And it's measured in parts per million per volume, which is a handful. But all you need to know is CO2e is the way that we measure the carbon footprint of something. GHG, if I say this acronym at all in the episode, I might be referring to greenhouse gases. While we're at it, we might as well explain that greenhouse gases absorb and emit radiant energy, which makes things nice and warm for humans. If we didn't have it, it would be way too cold. But when we have an excess of it, we see that we have heavy warming effect, and it's really freaking hot in so many places right now for a number of reasons, but there are many different kinds of greenhouse gases, mostly carbon dioxide and methane are probably two of a few that you've heard. A couple of fun facts. I wanted to start out with 80% of households with dishwashers do not use their dishwasher regularly, 80%, that's staggering. They could reduce their life cycle emissions by 65% and use phase emissions by 70% just by switching to machine washing of these people who are polled . Some of them believed it was more sustainable to wash by hand and some believe it's more sanitary. When it comes to manual washing or hand washing , I'll refer to it both interchangeably throughout the episode, you can emit 18% less than a machine with recommended practices, but when you break it down by typical practices, it ends up being much, much more. We have to factor in the processes. The resource uses accessibility, health and cleanliness, and the efficiency of the two. So let's start with processes when it comes to a machine I'm just going to go through the recommended use.Speaker 1:
Since there's a number of varieties that you could load your machine dishwasher. So it's recommended to load the dishwasher at maximum capacity, scrape the food waste from the dishes, no pre-rinse needed. This is typically the case for most modern dishwashers, turn the heat of dry setting off and use the normal setting. We'll get to that more later because that's really cool. I didn't know about it. The processes for manual dishwashing , uh, we'll , we'll cover three here. They're the most common, all three of them have different levels of waste and greenhouse gas emissions. So the first and probably most common practice is the running water method. And this is by far the worst practice it's emits the most greenhouse gases, and it it's essentially leaving your tap running for the duration of washing dishes. The two tub method is recommended. This is the optimal way and the way that you will effectively use less energy by hand-washing . Um, so with the two tub method, you have one tub filled with soapy water and the dishes soak in this tub and are scrubbed out of this tub followed by soaking the dishes in the rinsing top , or rather rinsing them as the name implies. Um, you're rinsing them in this top, then you let them air dry. The third manual dishwashing method is the combination method that's using a combination of the two running water and tub method could be better and it could be worse. So now let's talk about resource uses. So the two main types of uses we want to look at is water use. And when we look at water use, speaking of water, pause for a quick water break, thank you for bearing with me there , dishwasher is much more water efficient than standard hand-washing . Even with suboptimal dishwasher habits like pre rinsing hand-washing on average uses 3.5 times more water than a dishwasher on average. So it can be much more than that or less. And , uh, like I said before, if done correctly, hand-washing can actually save more water than dishwashing. This is very interesting information. It was recently published in a study that Whirlpool funded , um, and that was, that came out a couple of months ago. So it's very interesting how much new information is constantly coming out in that one. They evaluated the life cycle of multiple types of dishwashers , um , both manual and machine. And they came to determine that the dishwasher is by far most effective when it comes to typical practice it. Um, and we'll get more into that later. It makes a lot more sense recommended use it , uh, recommended dishwashing practices, excuse me, by hand, it just takes a lot more time using two tubs and you could see how that might get tricky if you've heavily soiled dishes, but we'll talk more later about that. So energy use , uh , obviously the dishwasher, this ends up being much more, depending on how you're using it for a dishwasher, the energy is required to heat the water, run the machine when the machine's not in use it's on standby. And if you use that heated dry cycle, that's also going to be a lot of energy use. So we're looking at overall and interesting tidbit here. Your express cycle on your dishwasher uses more energy than the tough cycle or the normal cycle. So in total dishwashers, we're looking at a total energy use of 2090 CO2e let's talk about hand-washing . As I said before, if you're using recommended practices, you can actually emit 18% less than using a machine dishwasher because when you're hand washing, the only energy that's required is for heating the water. That's it, you know, ideally you'd be emitting less energy, but on average, a typical dishwasher by hand emits about 5,620 CO2e that's significantly more double than what a machine dishwasher user emits. Uh , and so within the, the water and the energy, we do have some varying factors, the type of water heater that you have will impact how much output you are using. So gas or electric , uh, and the carbon grid intensity of your region because of the carbon grid intensity in most of the US gas heaters actually tend to be more efficient than electric. So let's now talk about accessibility. This one's pretty quick. Obviously cost is a huge factor. Not everyone can afford a dishwasher renting versus home owning. I don't know too many people that rent and can or do take a dishwasher with them, but if your apartment place you're renting have a dishwasher, you know, you might not be able to get one until you move or otherwise. Um, and also water resources in your area because droughts and water scarcity may make using a dishwasher. Impossible. Let's talk about health and cleanliness. Both can actually yield exceptional results. This is scientifically proven. Uh , however , uh , machine washer yields more consistent sanitary results. Studies did show that manual dishwashing practices can be more than acceptable to sanitize dishes and sterilize them properly. Big thing with health and cleanliness, sponges sponges are the second highest carriers of bacteria in the home next to drain traps next to drain traps. That means that this is even more bacteria ridden than your toilet, which is disgusting. I knew sponges were bad, but I never knew how gross they were. One little thing I did want to mention here. I don't think really impacts what we're trying to accomplish, but I thought it was interesting. I wanted to talk about it, that there was a study in Sweden that showed that hand-washing might reduce instances of allergies in children. Obviously the kids are exposed to the bacteria at a young age and might be building up a resistance to it. But there's also other things at stake here, like their diet and fermented foods that they were regularly consuming. So please don't hear that one statement and think that you can cure your or your children's allergies. Because that's not what is intended here. And let's talk about efficiency. This one's pretty straightforward as well. How much time is this taking from your busy life? How long are you left without plates for ? So effort wise dishwashers, much less effort. Even if you like hand washing dishes, I'm sorry. It takes so much less time. So that all being said, how can you be effective with both? Like I said, I want this to be useful to everyone. And I don't want to exclude people who don't have a dishwasher or access to one. So let's start with the dishwasher. The following suggestions that I'm about to give to you can reduce your emissions by a little over 11%. And this is where I'm getting into. It might be as simple as pressing a button for you. Biggest, most important tip. And I know this is crappy to say, but read your dishwasher, make and model user guide. Um, I know it's 2020. I'm telling you to read a manual that came with your electrical appliance, but there's some really important info in there. Like all dishwashers are unique and they have optimal loading styles that are proven. If you ever have those weird slots in your racks. And you're like, what the heck fits in there? Nothing fits in there. That might be an interesting place to figure out what the intended spot in that dishwasher rack is for. Not saying it needs to be used for that, but find some cool info in there. Your dishwasher might also have unique dish soap recommendations. So if you're using a cheap dish, so it's not unacceptable, it's just that you're going to have much better results. Pre-treatment recommendations. Your manual will also have suggestions on how you can wash your dishes the best way. Most of them only require scraping off food scraps, no pre-rinse. Even if you have something that you're like, "It might dry on there," don't rinse it. That can cut down up to 3% of your emissions. Some guy, I don't know the validity of this, but he suggested that maybe using a stronger cycle in place of pre-rinsing for caked on dishes might be more efficient. I'm not really sure if anyone's done research on that yet. I'm not sure if there's any merit in that. So I'd like to touch on that in a later episode, avoid putting plastics on the bottom shelf of your dishwasher. Not only does this lead to deterioration of your plastic, but it also will deteriorate the inside of your machine. If you're purchasing a new dishwasher, choose your make and model wisely on normal settings. Most plastic models actually emit less waste than stainless steel. And the biggest thing here, I think if you're purchasing a new dishwasher is find an appliance recycling program and resource the materials from your old dishwasher. There might not be one in your area. Um, and that's unfortunate, but it's certainly worth looking up and seeing what it would be like to get it picked up and resourced. So this is another suggestion where it's literally the touch of a button. Turn off your heated dry cycle. That's going to cut up to 11% of your emissions over the machine life cycle, 11%. That's so easy. I've done this for awhile. If I find that my dishes aren't fully dry, I'll just leave the dishwasher open and let them air dry a little, or if needed, put them on my drying rack, but overall small sacrifice to make for 11% of emission reduction. And another big one, just the button press, using the normal function strictly can cut up to 4% emissions. That's right. So like I said earlier, surprisingly, using the express function is more energy required than using the tough cycle using the normal cycle. Normal function should get you where you need to go. All right, let's talk about hand-washing because you might not have a dishwasher or you might have some stuff that requires you to hand wash it. I know I do. And I'd like to be better about how I'm hand-washing . So the suggestions I'm about to give to you here for hand-washing can reduce your emissions by up to 249%. It does take a lot more effort though. So using the two tubs, soaking method is the most extreme way to make your hand washing practice greener. Um, so what else can you do? You can, if you can't do the two tub soaking method that maybe that's not for, you use the spray function on your tap, and if your tap is too old for the spray function, you can easily install one that adapts to your tap. This uses less water than a steady stream. Let things air dry when possible. So if you're not using towels to manually dry things, then you're both using less laundry and using less waste if you're using paper towels. So let things air dry. If you're using any tub methods to top or a combination method, soak and wash the less soil dishes first, that way you'll have to replace your water less frequently or not at all while washing dishes. Another thing you can do to be more efficient with hand-washing is, if possible, invest in some greener cleaning products like some bamboo scrubbing brushes, reusable kitchen sponges, which need washed often we'll get into that next. Buy some maybe highly absorbent towels instead of paper towels for drying. Eco-friendly dish soap. Maybe you can buy two tubs to accomplish the two tub soaking method. And you know, maybe you don't use the two tub soaking method every time you wash dishes. But like I said, a little bit goes a long way here in this podcast. So last but not least clean your cleaning products, sanitize them. This may be either a shocker or a no-brainer to you, but this is huge. Sponges, like I said before, make the kitchen one of the dirtiest places in your home and even dirtier than your bathroom. So rinse and sanitize your sponges one time a week. You can put them, if you have a dishwasher, you can put it in the dishwasher with detergent. If you don't have a dishwasher, you can thoroughly soak your reusable sponge with water and microwave it for one minute. But disclaimer here full disclaimer, please do not do this if you have any sort of metal abrasive in your sponge. That will not be a fun experience if you've ever had a fire in the microwave. It's terrifying. So please avoid this if there's any metal in the scoring part of your sponge. Or you can put your reusable sponge in the clothes washer with detergent and if possible bleach as well. So all of these things are effective, pretty highly effective, and some of the most effective ways that you can sanitize your sponges. And they all kind of vary a little bit. So obviously if you are putting it in the clothes washer with just detergent, it's still going to be effective, but slightly less effective than bleach. Kitchen brushes are a great alternative to sponges, but they still need to be sanitized on a weekly basis. So if you have a dishwasher, some might be able to go in there. If not, or if it can not go into the dishwasher, you can just do a simple soak and vinegar for, I believe it was 15 minutes, rinse with hot water, and it will make all the difference. You'll have a much cleaner kitchen brush. Great. So those are some tips on how you can be better with your dishwashing, whether that be through machine or manual. I'd like to start something that we kind of do at the end of each week called the weekly eco activity. And this may or may not be related to this topic this week. And it most likely will give you a hint on what we might talk about next week, but it's also a way for me to update you all on maybe small things that I'm taking initiative on to be better with be greener with in my life. So this week we started a battery bag in my house. Everyone in my household will put all of their old and dead batteries in this bag. So we can safely dispose of them all. Believe it or not, your batteries don't belong in the trash bin or your recycling bin. I know that here in the U S they make it really hard for us to just dispose of these properly and responsibly. But as long as you have the patience, energy, and one of those like throw away drawers that you don't care what you throw in there, it's super easy to do so more on that or related things next week.:
Thank you all so much for listening and sticking with me through this episode. I really hope that this was useful for you. This is a learning experience for both of us. I want to know also how I can be better each day. So let me know send me an email at [email protected] You know, shoot me a message on social media. You can find me at Eco Go Go podcast for Facebook and Instagram. I'd really like your feedback. I'd like to know what you want to learn. So this can be useful for both of us. And a special thanks to Richie for providing the awesome tunes that you're hearing in this podcast and Bronson for making my amazing logo from a pretty lame prototype. I'll provide their handles to Instagram and my bio, if you want to check them out. Thanks so much for joining me and I'll see you again next time!Speaker 2: