Friday, April 3, 2009

Greaseless in Seattle

I'm sure many have heard now about the absurdity of the Dishwashing Detergent ban that took effect in Washington state Jan 1, 2008. You can't buy any dishwashing detergent that includes more than .5% phosphate-- which is every non-environmentally labeled product on the market.

Residents in border towns are now smuggling in illegal dishwashing detergent (i.e. Cascade) to get their dishes clean. (It's not illegal to use the detergent- but it's illegal to sell it in the state).

The idea is that phosphates end up in our lakes and rivers and cause algae- so we must ban the use of phosphates. Apparently if everyone in Minnesota used phosphate-free dishwashing detergent, we'd have a 1.9% reduction in the amount of phophates in the water. There's only one problem- the enviro-soaps don't work. People in Washington are now running longer wash cycles to get their dishes equally clean- or resorting to hand-washing their dishes- both methods use more water- oops!

This great consumer products review site features reviews from women- only 1/9 thought the enviro-soap did the job-- funny enough the one positive review is the one featured on the search page. The other 8 gave it a big thumbs down. Not only doesn't the product clean your dishes, it leaves such a bad "white gunk" on them that one woman said she thought about throwing out her glassware-- at least it's recyclable- right? Eco-Palmolive garners 1.67 of 5 stars while old-fashioned polluting Cascade gets 4.5 out of 5.

A quick glance at Target the other day and I learned that the eco-product is actually LESS expensive than the regular stuff. In a free market- a less expensive product that works moderately well- should outsell the other products without any laws, legislators or government intervention. But this product- doesn't work- so there goes that logic.

Alas, that the exact same legislation was proposed here in Minnesota less than 2 years ago- the ban would have been in effect by 2010.

Minnesota HF1382 is sponsored by NCEL participants Representatives Kelliher, Abeler, Bly, Eken, Hornstein, and Kahn. SF1109 is sponsored by NCEL participants Senator Higgins and Senator Frederickson.

Actually there were more authors than that:

Thissen ; Eken ; Hoppe ; McNamara ; Kelliher ; Lenczewski ; Hornstein ; Scalze ; Bly ; Brynaert ; Kahn ; Abeler ; Slocum ; Morrow

They're all Democrats with the exception of Republicans Joe Hoppe 34B Chaska and Denny McNamara 57B Hastings and Jim Abeler 48B Anoka.

I made a call to the Capitol and from what I can figure out- the ban was never passed here in MN (contrary to the national news reports). It went to committee and it looks like a compromise was made to instead spend $2Million on phosphorus management in wastewater plants.

But don't worry- the same legislation has been proposed nationally for a federal ban. (I'm waiting for the U.S. Congressman who introduced the bill to let me know the status).

Start stockpiling that Electrosol, ladies.

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