Detergent Smuggling

I read a recent article about residents in Washington State going to Idaho to purchase detergents after a ban was placed on detergents containing phosphates.

Phosphates are a concern in consumer products because when they end up in streams, lakes and rivers (they aren’t easily removed in waste water treatment plants), they promote the growth of algae, which sucks up oxygen, stealing it from other animals and organisms in the water.

Phosphates in detergents tie up water hardness minerals (primarily calcium and magnesium) so the minerals won’t interfere with cleaning or deposits on surfaces. Phosphates also help keep food soil particles in suspension after removal from the soiled surfaces and prevent their redeposition.  

Residents say that the greener alternatives – Seventh Generation, Ecover, Palmolive Eco+ and Trader Joe’s,  – just don’t clean as well.

The Washington Lake Protection Association thinks part of the problem may be the hard water and is encouraging consumers to  install water softeners.

Here’s a few highly rated phosphate-free detergents that may do the job.

Bi-o-Kleen Automatic Dish Soap
“A  phosphate-free alternative with natural corrosion fighters that requires no pre-washing of dishes.”

Method SmartyDish” Dishwasher Cubes
No toxic chemicals, no bleach, no phosphates just naturally derived biodegradable ingredients in pre-measured tabs.


Bazzeo by NY Loft not only boasts good looks and clean lines, it is Eco-friendly too.

The boxes are made from 1/4″ Paperstone with wood veneer, laminate or aluminum fronts in their NJ factory.  The manufacturing process employs energy saving techniques, recycling of scraps and low-VOC lacquers.


I’d worry a little about aluminum on lower cabinets scratching but I can’t deny it’s beautiful.

Easy Green Resolutions

It’s mid January.  Have your started working on your New Year’s resolutions?  Have you already broken them?

Follow these tips if you want to be more environmentally conscious in your kitchen.

1. Reduce your use of Paper Towels.  Install a Linen Hamper in the kitchen or the laundry room to keep used dish towels.  If you must use paper towels, Apartment Therapy suggests Seventh Generation Unbleached 100% Recycled Paper Towels.

2. Use reusable Grocery Tote Bags.  Dedicate a kitchen drawer or area in the pantry for your collection of grocery tote bags.  If you already do this, consider getting smaller bags for your fresh produce and do away with using any plastic sacks at the store.

3. Reduce Junk Mail.  If your countertops are cluttered with tons of catalogs you never seem to look through try getting off the mailing list and do your catalog shopping online.  Most websites are better than catalogs because you can play with different colors and see different views of items.  Not sure where to start?  Check out Catalog Choice, a free web service that allows you to opt-out of catalog mailings.

4. Green your Electronics.  Many AC adapters continue to draw power from a wall socket when left plugged in.  Even the clock on your microwave draws power.  By unplugging electronics and appliances when not in use you will save energy and money.

5. Switch to Energy-Efficient Lighting. If you haven’t already switched out your bulbs to compact fluorescent bulbs, what are you waiting for?  Energy Star qualified bulbs use about 75% less energy than standard incadescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer.