SPOKANE, Wash. – 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.
Real estate agent Patti Marcotte of Spokane stocks up on detergent at a Costco in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, and doesn't care who knows it.
"Yes, I am a smuggler," she said. "I'm taking my chances because dirty dishes I cannot live with."
There's more hilarity by following the link, but if the ecoweenies get the ban imposed everywhere, what can the average person do besides rewashing by hand?
For his part, Beck has taken to washing his dishes on his machine's pots-and-pans cycle, which takes longer and uses five gallons more water. Beck wonders if that isn't as tough on the environment as phosphates.
"How much is this really costing us?" Beck said. "Aren't we transferring the environmental consequences to something else?"
Welcome to liberal land where goofy gestures prevail. As for me, my latest get rich quick scheme is to fill up a storage unit with dishwasher detergent - I can sell it along with the incandescent light bulbs I have tucked away. By the way, that investment is looking mighty good since compact fluorescent bulbs (CFL) are still crap.