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April 1, 2009

When dish detergents are outlawed, only outlaws will have clean dishes

Eco-nannies in Spokane County, Washington thought they had scored a major victory when the county banned the sale of detergents containing more than 0.5% phosphates. This eliminated popular brands like Cascade and Electrasol, and left consumers with brands that supposedly are more eco-friendly but are not so popular.

The reason these eco-friendly brands aren't popular is....

...wait for it....

...they don't actually clean your dishes.

This flies in the face of altogether reasonable customer expectations about dishwasher detergents. The outcome was predictable. Associated Press, March 28:
The quest for squeaky-clean dishes has turned some law-abiding people in Spokane into dishwater-detergent smugglers. They are bringing Cascade or Electrasol in from out of state because the eco-friendly varieties required under Washington state law don't work as well. Spokane County became the launch pad last July for the nation's strictest ban on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates, a measure aimed at reducing water pollution. The ban will be expanded statewide in July 2010, the same time similar laws take effect in several other states.

But it's not easy to get sparkling dishes when you go green.

Many people were shocked to find that products like Seventh Generation, Ecover and Trader Joe's left their dishes encrusted with food, smeared with grease and too gross to use without rewashing them by hand. The culprit was hard water, which is mineral-rich and resistant to soap.

As a result, there has been a quiet rush of Spokane-area shoppers heading east on Interstate 90 into Idaho in search of old-school suds.
The ban will be expanded to the entire state next year, so look for a thriving black market to develop, thanks to entrepreneurs who are willing (for a small fee, natch) to save people the inconvenience of having to drive to Idaho.

This law has a loophole big enough to drive a contraband-laden truck through it: only the sale of such detergents is banned. It's still legal to drive outside the ban zone, buy some Cascade, and bring it home.

The ban's chief proponents acknowledge that the law is easily and routinely bypassed. Easy prediction: Eco-nannies hate it when the general public doesn't take them seriously, so it won't be long before the loophole is closed.

Then, whenever you get invited to a dinner party in Washington, if your food is served on a clean plate, just wink at the host and keep your mouth shut.

"Psst! Did you see the plates and glasses? Do you think they...?"
, sweetheart. Don't ask, don't tell."

1 comment:

Rob said...

Phosphates in waterways are a serious problem. There is an ecological friendly dish soap called
Diamond Brite that works better than Cascade. Money back guaranteed. How do I know? I sell it. Proudly.
Eco-nannies? Please. Yeah, let's repeal the Clean Air and Water Act so corporations can trash the environment but add .25 to their dividend. What happened to Conservatives that wanted to "conserve " the environment for future generations? Like Barry Goldwater and Nixon who started the E.P.A.