Eco Obsession

As I read Dan’s post on the MOM’s blog, it got me to thinking of how being a devout eco-warrior can become an obsession.

One of the things that I am TOTALLY obsessive about is loading the dishwasher for maximum efficiency (see picture snapped this morning).

My poor wife.   Sometimes she’ll forget about my obsession and *attempt* to load it herself.  When she’s not looking, I sneak into the kitchen and reload.  I just can’t help myself- and I need help!

Do you live with an obsessive eco-warrior – or are you one?!?

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21 Responses to Eco Obsession

  1. Christine says:

    There is a funny scene in “Rachel Getting Married” where some family members have a dishwasher-loading competition. You are not alone. My problem is that it takes me too long to load the dishwasher that full, as in it would take 3+ days, and I need some of my dishes to be clean every day. Do you run your dishwasher every day?

    • Cindy says:

      Christine, You are right. If there is only 1 or 2 in a household, the d/w seldom is loaded to capacity. When I notice that my husband is ready to run the d/w and it isn’t full or as full as I like it, I grab things to toss in there like the drip pans to the stove, some of my kitchen crocks, and our glass coasters from the living room. This saves time and water when I clean these other rooms since they were already ‘dusted’, so to speak. I’ve put all kinds of things in there to fill it up like the glass globes from our ceiling fan (they are sturdy), the s and p shakers and more.

  2. Thanks for starting the blog, Scott!

    I heard that you are writing a rebuttal to Joel Salatin’s remarks in last months FLAVOR.

    Can’t wait to see what you have to say!!

    Farmer Allan in Shepherdstown

  3. I am a total warrior.

    In regards to dishwashers I hate them! The lady and I have a constant debate going about their efficiency. I say use less dishes and wash them by hand. She says that uses more water than a full dishwasher.

    It’s a never ending debate and I mostly cave in so as not to upset things (after all she does let me have worms for compost in the house). But I do have a master plan which is getting our water use way down.

    For years I have been focusing on food, waste, and energy while ignoring water. Now I am starting to do all sorts of crazy things with water. Like I keep a large jug next to the sink for the used water. I use that to water the plants and need no virgin water for them. Then there is turning of the water mid-shower to soap up.

    Yeah im pretty crazy too!


  4. Scott says:

    Allan- great to hear from you! Joel responded to my response. I still stand by my point, but I’m not happy with the tone I took in that letter- too disrespectful on my part. It’s a “hot button” issue for me. Lesson learned.

    btw- I love how you spell your name. I spell my son’s name the same way.

  5. Scott says:

    Back to the dishwasher… I know that my brother-in-law and wife spar over the loading of the dishwasher. He thinks only smaller items should be put in- and he washes pots and pans by hand. I do that too.

    My good buddy takes the side of your wife, Steve- he thinks it takes more water to hand-wash dishes than in the dishwasher.

    In the summer, I turn the heated dry function off.

    In the winter, when my kids take baths, I don’t drain the water when they’re done so the heat dissipates into the air.

    Any other eco-obsessive tips are greatly appreciated!

    • Beth says:

      We don’t own a dishwasher–yet (if my husband finds out about them using less water he’ll push even harder for one!) But if we did, I’d load it to maximum, the same way I pack suitcases.

      There’s no doubt I’m an eco-warrior. I fish empty toilet-paper rolls out of the trash and put them into the recycling bin. I put paper printed on only one side into my computer printer when I don’t require a clean copy (note: wrinkled or bent pages may jam the printer–use them for scrap paper or for the kids to draw on). And yes, I go around turning off lights and the TV.

      Oh, and I highly recommend a cat as a small-area biofuel warming device, a stress reducer, and entertainment.

  6. bullwinkle says:

    Yay! Love that you started a blog!

    My husband says that if I give up dish washing duties, I am not allowed to reload the dishwasher to my standard of maximun efficiency. (He’s good. I’m a perfectionist.)

    Really. That’s a tough choice. 😉

    p.s. We never use the heated dry feature – just open the dishwasher when done and let them air dry. The heated dry doesn’t work on plastics anyway – and we have those from packed lunches.

  7. Heather says:

    I do simple things around the house like washing my clothes on cold and using the ecowash setting on my dishwasher. I also follow my roommates around apartment turning off his lights and recycling his plastic shopping bags!

  8. I am typically to running a blog and i really respect your content. The article has really peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and maintain checking for brand spanking new information.

  9. Michael says:

    We are eco-obsessive about eliminating all things plastic and petrol-based–from dust pans to toothbrushes, I’ve found that if you search for it (and pay just a few $ extra) you can find quality permanent and/or sustainable alternatives.

    Sure, “mining” the raw materials (metals/glass/wood, etc) and manufacturing the item has an impact, but once produced will last many lifetimes and still be permanently recyclable after that. No matter how ‘recyclable’ plastics are in some community programs, it is not remotely close to being a closed system.

  10. Michael says:

    Well, the quirkiest eco-obsessive task that comes to mind:

    when flushing solid pet waste (which I believe is widely regarded as the most environmentally responsible method of disposal–though local water authorities often disapprove of this presumably on their own financial grounds), I always make sure it goes with some form of human waste as well, so no extra water has been required for the pet’s maintenance.

    • Scott says:

      I’ve frequently wondered how important it is to pick up pet waste? We have herds of deer, packs of foxes, raccoons and opossums, dozens of squirrels per acre, 100’s of birds, etc. Is it really that harmful to let the occasional dog poop stay on grass or in woods and simply degrade?

      Anyway, I like the combo-flush idea, Michael. That’s getting creative!

      • Michael says:

        I think I would agree for outdoor pets when it’s feasible, but for indoor cats with litter boxes or those in housing complexes with shared grounds that are obligated to pick droppings up–they have to do something with it. I don’t know the science behind why processing it through the waste water system would be more environmentally sound than the solid household waste system, but if anyone out there knows the rationale or knows it to be incorrect I’d like to hear about it.

  11. Hey, Scott (and everyone!)

    I live in a college town.

    It’s become the cool thing for students to jaywalk in front of cars, often without looking, and to use the typical driver’s total fear of crosswalk tickets to bring cars to a dead stop so they, the students, can cross at will. That is, instead of waiting for a break in the traffic and then crossing, they just step out into the crosswalk and stop cars that may be going 50mph. (Yes, here in the country drivers do stop for pedestrians. I think the fine is a minimum $100 for driving through a crosswalk if a pedestrian is even considering crossing the street) My question to you (and everyone ) is: what is the environmental impact of stopping a moving car and of that car having to start moving again from a dead stop? My recollection is that it is substantial, not just in wasted gas (initial movement of the car is the most fuel thirsty) but in tires and brakes and heaven knows what else. I’d like to express this in dollars and sense in a letter to the editor of the student newspaper. I think that at least some students would think twice about forcing cars to a stop when they could just wait a few seconds and cross the street without wasting auto energy. (Don’t get me wrong: once someone is in the x-walk, I think they should be stopped for! It’s this anti-eco-“entitlement” that concerns me.)

    -Allan in WV

    • Scott says:

      Allan- I think about that ALL the time. How every time a car puts on the brakes, all of the energy taken to move a multi-ton vehicle goes to waste. I can’t tell you how many times cars behind me speed up to pass me only to press on the brakes at the obvious red light I was coasting to. And there are those poorly timed lights that make dozens of cars stop every 1/4 mile or so (I especially notice this on Rockville Pike). And the traffic jams on the beltway every day- that’s just a collosal waste of fuel (which I’m REALLY hoping the ICC helps to alleviate). Rubber-necking on accidents- probably is a waste of thousands of gallons of gasoline if it causes a long backup.

  12. Cindy says:

    Wow, Where is there a posted speed limit sign of 50 mph with street crossings?
    That may be the real issue. But, Allan (no disrespect intended), I have written your congressmen 10-20-30 x each, and not one has shown a flicker of interest in the environment. Byrd did before passing, and he was your only hope. Manchin, Rahall, Rockefeller and crew couldn’t give a rat’s a**. If ‘they’ cared, ‘they’ would end MTR and not allow fracking to happen without meaningful laws on the books.
    So, life is not much different in the city. I drive route 26 into Baltimore, and route 97 into DC and people walk in front of cars frequently, even if there is a crosswalk a block away. It seems to be a phenomenon that is crossing this country…’just walk, and they will stop’ attitude. I meet folks that stand in the median and act with jerky movements pretending as if they are going to step out in front of you, simply to see if you are going to allow them a break to cross.
    This is not relegated to cross roads in college towns. Have you noticed recently what it is like to back out of a grocery store parking lot? Everyone seems to fall under the adage :YOU Have to watch for me”. When I was young,w e were taught to look for cars, and not walk behind them, let them go and so on. Not today, each person I speak with knows that the law is on the side of the pedestrian and that you , the driver must watch for them. In the meantime we have mothers walking their little ones, right by parked car tail lights shining in reverse mode, with a smirk on their face saying “I dare you”. I think our trouble is that these unwritten rules we grew up with have now changed, literally and figuratively.
    Certainly if you have an area with a posted 50 mph speed limit sign and cross walks, that does need to be addressed. It seems 35 mph with blinking lights as a warning, would be a speed fast enough for these areas.
    Good luck with your congressmen.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, Cindy. I think I overstated the posted speed limit for effect, although cars are certainly often going that fast on one of the state highways I’m thinking of. But my real concern is finding out how to quantify the environmental impact of pedestrians chosing to ‘stop moving cars’ rather than waiting a few moments and crossing without necessarily stopping cars. Incidentally, I totally support a pedestrian’s right to the crosswalk once they’ve entered it. I just think it’s a careless error for people who otherwise are probably very conscientious about their carbon footprint and whatnot to be forcing automobiles into unnecessary stopping and re-starting. How do we quantify this wasted energy and increased pollution? (You are sure right about the non-enviro attitude of WV politicians!) -Allan in WV

  13. Hey Scott,
    No worries, man, I think you’re on-track!
    As a LEED AP (US Green Building Council type), it’s become second nature for me to extrapolate and wonder about a thousand people or more doing the same things I do, i.e. Not letting water run while brushing, using low-flow shower heads and dual-flush toilets, etc… it all adds up, amigo.
    Keep up the good work. My wife and I hit your Bowie store at least twice a week and are glad you’re our neighbor.

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