I found this from Calvin at plaidbag.org: The dishwasher and the garbage disposal. The original article from the Washington Post is about how immigrants rarely use dishwashers: Washing their hands of the last frontier. The article says:
In many immigrant homes, the automatic dishwasher is the last frontier. Long after new arrivals pick up football, learn the intricacies of the multiplex and the DMV and develop a taste for pizza, they resist the dishwasher. Some joke that not using the appliance is one of the truest signs of immigrant heritage, whether they hail from Africa, Latin America, Asia or Eastern Europe.
I know people who work in restaurants, and they prewash, even if they use the automatic dishwasher–which is why you can still get a job as a “dishwasher” in restaurants. Aside from having to prewash, I also don’t buy the idea that dishwashers are as efficient as handwashing. Sure, some people leave the water running while they wash. But how can scrubbing with a sponge (which you need for prewashing anyway) be less energy efficient than a stream of water directed by a large electric appliance? I could see myself using it for large parties or if my kids start eating more and creating more dishes, but otherwise, I think it’s a waste.
(The only justifiable environmental argument I see is the possibility that there is less wear-and-tear on sponges. But I think most of the sponge-damage comes from the hard scrubbing that comes with prewashing.)
Garbage disposals, on the other hand, should never be used. Calvin’s dad is right not to use one. I know home inspectors who talk about how ground-up solids are not meant to be flushed down regular pipes, and how these can create all kinds of longterm problems.
Speaking of being efficient, I noticed that lots of people don’t have laundry dryers in Japan–they just hang it up. To me, this makes a lot of sense. Having a tumbling drum that heats and dries your laundry for a couple hours each load–that’s energy that could be better used powering your refrigerator or other more necessary appliances. People ought to use solar powered drying machines, like this one: