Mona Charen’s Jan. 25 column calls for a response. She describes the psychological trauma she suffered when she discovered that using phosphate-free automatic dishwasher detergent requires first rinsing and brushing off the dishes. She blamed those “environmentalists” for pushing legislation through without discussion and for not knowing that dishwasher detergent contributes to only a small percent of the total phosphates in our waterways.
The facts for us are that government and industry officials have been discussing phosphates and toxic algae in Lake Spokane for decades. Other sources of phosphates are being addressed. Over 80 percent of phosphates entering our sewage treatment system can be removed relatively cheaply. But that won’t meet the standards. To do that requires the most expensive state-of-the-art technology that makes the cost of that last ounce of phosphate removed astronomical. That “small percent” of phosphate from detergents thus becomes very important.
To Ms. Charen and all those still using phosphate-containing detergents, please rearrange your values so that effort- and spot-free dishes do not supersede concern for our environment and our future. It’s not about your convenience.