Washington Residents Become Dishwasher-Detergent Smugglers

Some of them really want their dishes kept clean

People in the city of Spokane, Washington have turned from law-abiding individuals into detergent smugglers, a new research seems to show. Because their state implemented legislation regulating the use of phosphate-based dishwasher detergent, some have begun smuggling it in from out of the state, as they say that the new, more eco-friendly varieties, do not work just as well. The people doing this seem to have forgotten the fact that the measures were set in place to reduce water pollution levels, so that they benefit from high-quality tap water.

Spokane County became the first tightly-regulated area in Washington State in regard to the types of dishwasher detergents that can be sold in local stores, and legislators plan to extend this measure to the entire territory under their jurisdiction, by July 2010 at the latest. However noble their efforts are, they seem to fall on deaf ears, as people apparently continue to disregard their own health, and that of the environment, simply to get cleaner diner plates from their dishwashers.

In all fairness, greener products do not act as well as their polluting counterparts, and dishes washed using such brands as Seventh Generation, Ecover and Trader Joe's tend to retain encrusted food and grease, which makes them unfit for usage until they are washed again by hand. As a result, more and more people are joining the “exodus” to nearby Idaho, where they continue to purchase suds, which most people seem to think are worth the trouble.

According to the new legislation, it's illegal for stores to sell the stuff in the County, but the law doesn't say anything about owning or purchasing the phosphate-based cleaners from elsewhere. So people can stock up on these harmful products without any fear of prosecution. “I'm not hearing a lot of positive feedback. I think people are driving to Idaho,” said Washington Lake Protection Association representative Shannon Brattebo, who was one of the main promoters of the ban.

While phosphate-based detergents indeed break off stains much better than their greener counterparts, they also leave behind chemicals that are very difficult to process in water treatment plants, and most of these substances end up in rivers and lakes. Once in the open waters, they promote the growth of algae, which strip the water of the oxygen that fish need to survive. So when people find that there are less and less fish in stores, they should know that they only have themselves to blame, and no one else.

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