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  • Writer's pictureRichard

Versus Series - Handwashing vs Dishwasher

In the debate over washing dishes, the decision between handwashing and using a dishwasher is often framed in terms of convenience and personal preference. However, when viewed through the lens of reducing environmental footprint, the choice becomes more nuanced. Both methods have their advantages and drawbacks, but which one is truly better for the environment?

Let's start with handwashing. At first glance, handwashing dishes may seem like the more eco-friendly option. After all, it requires no electricity and typically uses less water than a dishwasher. However, the reality is more complex. Handwashing often involves leaving the tap running continuously, which can waste significant amounts of water. Additionally, many people use hot water to wash dishes by hand, which requires energy to heat and can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions.

Moreover, the detergents and solvents commonly used for handwashing dishes can have environmental implications. Traditional dish soaps may contain chemicals that are harmful to aquatic life and ecosystems when they are washed down the drain. While there are eco-friendly alternatives available, they may not always be accessible or affordable for everyone.

On the other hand, dishwashers have made strides in improving their environmental performance in recent years. Modern dishwashers are designed to be more energy and water-efficient than ever before. They use sensors to optimize water usage and energy consumption, reducing waste while still delivering sparkling clean dishes.

When it comes to energy use, dishwashers may initially seem like the less sustainable option. However, their energy efficiency has improved significantly with advancements in technology. Many newer models are ENERGY STAR certified, meaning they meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These dishwashers use less water and energy per cycle compared to handwashing, especially when washing full loads.

Furthermore, using a dishwasher can help to reduce the use of harmful chemicals. Most dishwashers utilize detergent more efficiently than handwashing, requiring smaller amounts of soap to achieve the same level of cleanliness. Additionally, some dishwashers offer options for eco-friendly detergents, further minimizing their environmental impact.

In terms of water usage, dishwashers can be more efficient when used properly. While handwashing dishes may seem like it conserves water, the reality is that a dishwasher can use as little as 13 litres of water per cycle, whereas handwashing can consume much more if the tap is left running continuously. For comparison, even a water-waving shower head uses 9 litres of water per minute, thus a 5-minute shower uses at least 45 litres of water - and most people shower for far longer.

In conclusion, when considering the environmental footprint of washing dishes, it's clear that dishwashers have the potential to be the more sustainable option. While handwashing may seem intuitive and eco-friendly, it can actually be wasteful in terms of water and energy usage, as well as the use of potentially harmful chemicals. By investing in a modern, energy-efficient dishwasher and using it responsibly, individuals can significantly reduce their environmental impact while still enjoying the convenience of clean dishes.



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