Saturday, August 27, 2011

Realization: Dishwashing practice makes perfect...

It just so happened that the plastic awareness challenge coincided with me running out of dish washing machine tablets/powder for the first time. Since I've been using up the products I already had before being aware of the harm they were doing, my plan is to switch to eco-friendly products (meaning what I deem to be eco-friendly, not just because it says so on the box) gradually, as I run out.

Yesterday I headed over to the local "green" store, called Ruohonjuuri, in search of something to clean the full dishwasher that was waiting for me at home. I expected, however naively, to find the perfect product there... that wasn't the case. But I did instantly want to blog about the experience because I think it reflects many choices we have to make in our everyday lives when it comes to making greener choices.

This is what I found...
(By the way, I don't know everything about toxins in these types of products but my rule was: if they don't hurt the wildlife, that's usually a good sign AND I kept an eye out for packaging because that's a big concern for me. Also, I didn't have ALL the info you see below but I got it off the company websites for you :) !)

Product #1 - Ecover

Quantity: 25 tablets
Price: 9.20€
Country of origin: Belgium
+ Cardboard box, made of 95% recycled materials
+ plant based ingredients, not based on petrochemical ingredients
+ no chemical residue left on your dishes
+ GMO enzyme free
+ no artificial fragrance
+ no phosphates nor chlorine bleach
+ optimum level of biodegradability - far exceeds legislative requirements
+ safe for all river and marine life
+ no animal testing
+ safe for septic tanks
- Each tablet is individually wrapped in plastic (it's recyclable but you can't recycle plastic in Finland... actually I should look into this...)
- Price

Product #2 - Attitude

Quantity: 26 and 40 tablets
Price: around 12,30€ and 16,38€ (Though only $8 and $11 in Canada!)
Country of origin: Canada (to be more specific, Quebec)
+ individual sachets dissolve
+ Certified EcoLogo, an Environment Canada program
+ CO2 neutral: no contribution to climate change
+ Vegetable-based / Natural / Biodegradable
+ Free of phosphate and chlorine
+ Free of color dyes and artificial fragrances
+ Pure essential oils
+ Non-carcinogenic (selected ingredients not listed on the IARC Categories 1, 2A or 2B)
+ Vegan product
- The 26 pack comes in a thick plastic bag (to protect from moisture)
- The 40 pack came in a hard plastic box
- Price

Product #3 - Alma Win

Quantity: 25 tablets
Price: around 11€ (I don't remember!)
Country of origin: Germany
+ Comes in a cardboard box
+ FREE from phosphate, chlorine and GMO
+ Excellent water softening properties
+ Sodium citrate prevents lime deposits on dishes
+ Biodegradable, natural occurring poly aspartic acid aids even dispersion
+ Environmentally-compatible mild oxygen based bleaching agents improve degradation
+ Fragranced with certified organic essential lemon oil
+ Naturally and effectively remove persistent food particles, starch and protein with proteases, not enzymes
+ Suitable for vegans
+ Not tested on animals
- Individually plastic wrapped tablets
- More expensive than Ecover (which is packaged the same)

My decision:
I may have to shop around, so I picked Ecover (the cheaper and less-plastic-y of the bunch). In case it doesn't clean my dishes and work my way up (price-wise), I figured it was smarter to start with the cheaper option.

Ironically, I went to a bigger grocery store after and found the same Ecover box for only €6.50. I know stores like Prisma definitely benefit from economies of scale and most of their products are not sustainable but 2.70€/box is a pretty hefty price increase. I went back to Ruohonjuuri today and apologized to the super nice sales person. They still have products you can't find elsewhere though and I plan to support them that way.
Again more irony, I realized I could've tried making the dishwashing powder myself, but I'll have to give that a try later (and post about some dishwashing- vs. dishwasher-related debates). Baby steps.

Do you have any products you'd like to recommend? Have you tried making your own dishwashing powder? Feel free to post about your experiences!


  1. I've looked up plastic recycling in Finland - I'm pretty sure they don't have one. I've looked around at recycling bins and looked for it in the lehti put out by Tampere's recycling place...nothing. This really bugs me because in my family, we have always recycled plastics. My husband says that there are people who go through the trash in Finland and sort it out themselves...but that just sounds silly to me and I don't know how accurate it is. Anyway, I encourage you to search, too, and let me know if you figure something out because I am very interested in this! I hate throwing away plastic!!

  2. We recycle plastic in Toronto too and it just became a habit. But I'm on it! It would be nice to have somewhere other than the trash to dispose of stuff (even if it's actually downcycled, which is still an improvement over the landfill!)