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Washing dishes by hand wastes water

I’m confused when I hear people say they’re saving water by washing their dishes by hand because when I bought my first dishwasher two years ago, I did my research and found that by buying a AAA-rated machine I would be saving not only time, but water and electricity too. Still, the myth that dishwashers are water-gobbling evils prevails, and so I was grateful and relieved to read in The Guardian that it’s now official, get a dishwasher and save water.

A study by Waterwise, an NGO dedicated to reducing water wastage, shows that washing dishes by hand is wasting millions of litres of water every day in the UK. This supports research at the University of Bonn that shows that by using a dishwasher, households could save up to 11,000 litres of water annually. That’s a lot of water!

While dishwashers back in the 1970’s used on average 50 litres per wash, modern appliances use as little as 9 litres per cycle. I’m guessing the average sink holds around 20 litres at least, and that’s not taking into account changing the water when it gets greasy, or rinsing dishes.

So, if you’ve been holding back on a dishwasher purchase for environmental reasons, think again. And don’t stop there, take water conservation seriously with these simple tips from Waterwise:

At Home
  • Healthy teeth healthy rivers: Remember to turn off the tap while brushing your teeth-a running tap wastes over 6 litres per minute. If the entire adult population of England and Wales remembered to do this, we could save 180 mega litres a day-enough to supply nearly 500,000 homes.
  • Drop a hippo in your cistern: About a quarter of all the clean, drinkable water we use in our homes is flushed down a toilet. If you’re in the market for a new loo, consider buying a water efficient toilet or one with a dual flush. If your loo is still as good as new, put a hippo or other displacement device into the cistern to save some water. Give your water company a ring; they can give you one of these devices for free.
  • Stop those drips: A dripping tap wastes at least 5,500 litres of water a year: that’s enough water wasted to fill a paddling pool every week for the whole summer. Mending your dripping tap washer could save you over £18 a year.
  • Fill up those dishwashers: Hand-washing dishes typically uses about 63 litres per session; if those dishes are rinsed off under a running tap the total water used averages 150 litres-in comparison, a modern dishwasher can use as little as 15 litres of water per cycle. But make sure you fill the dishwasher or you’ll be wasting even more than if you were to wash up by hand. And if you’re in the market for a new dishwasher, look for the energy efficiency ‘A’ rated machines since these usually waste the least amount of water. If you take a closer look at the energy label, it actually does tell you how much water the machine uses.
  • Bathers beware: A bath can use up a lot of water (over 100 litres!), while a shower only uses a third of that amount. But beware since many power-showers actually use more than a bath if you shower for more than five minutes. If you’re the die-hard tub-type, you can minimise your water use by reusing your bathwater to water your houseplants or garden.
  • Wishy-washy machines: Before starting your washing machine, wait for a full load-a full load uses less water than two half loads; so, you’ll be able to save money on energy and water. And just like dishwashers, washing machines labelled ‘A’ on energy efficiency tend to be more water efficient.
  • Frigid water: Fill a jug with tap water and leave it to cool in your fridge. This way you don’t have to run the tap for ages just to get a cold drink.
  • Burst pipe preparedness: Check out where your main stop valve is and make sure that you can turn it on and off. If ever a pipe bursts, you’ll know how to cut off the flow.
  • Sparkling asparagus: By washing your fruits and veg in a bowl rather than under a running tap, you could cut down on water waste effortlessly. And as an added bonus, you can use the leftover water to feed your houseplants.
  • Rubbish for rubbish bins: Try to avoid flushing away cotton balls, make-up tissues, and those pesky spiders-throwing them in the bin will cut down on the amount of water that is wasted by every flush.
And Outside
  • Be sprinkler savvy: We all love our gardens, but sprinklers can use as much as 1,000 litres of water per hour-that’s more than a family of four can use in a whole day. Using your sprinkler early in the morning or late in the evening will mean less water will evaporate from your garden and more will get to the roots, where you actually want it to go.
  • You can with a watering can: Your hosepipe can spew as much as 18 litres of water a minute. By using a watering can in your garden you can significantly reduce the amount of water wasted; or consider fitting it with a trigger gun to control the flow (although during a hosepipe ban you will need to use a watering can).
  • Invest in a butt: Your roof collects about 85,000 litres of rain each year which then just runs straight into the sewers. This could fill 450 water butts with free water: you could water your garden, your houseplants, or wash your car for free! To get a butt, call your local water company.
  • The bucket and sponge approach: Rather than washing your car with a running hosepipe, try using a bucket and sponge instead. (Better still: fill the bucket up with water from the water butt). Just 30 minutes with a hosepipe will use more water than the average family uses in a day. And, using a bucket will give your car a much more precise wash.
  • Magnificent mulch: Mulching is one of the greatest things you can do for your garden. Mulches such as pebbles, gravel, cocoa shell, chipped bark, and grass clippings should be applied as a five to eight centimetre layer; but do avoid mulching too close to plant stems as this can lead to rotting in winter. Mulching will not only keep away water-loving weeds, but it will also keep the soil cool, decrease evaporation, and reduce soil compaction.
  • Soak, don’t sprinkle: Giving your plants’ roots a good soaking once or twice a week in dry weather is much better than lightly watering them every day because most of that water just evaporates away. Do remember, though, that new plantlings do need regular watering until they are established.

Via: Guardian Unlimited