Interesting article in the NYTimes two weeks ago. The topic is rather trivial. How much soap should one use in the dishwasher? If I don’t see suds in the washing machine, have I done something wrong? How many dryer sheets are really enough?
When I read this article, I thought back to some of the laudable things companies have tried in order to limit their environmental impact – changing to concentrated detergent for instance. The change to concentrated detergent saved money for retail stores on packaging and shipping costs, but without consumers breaking age-old habits of always using a cap-full of detergent this may have had a negative net effect.
Intuitively, before concentrated detergent you needed a full cap full to wash a load of clothes. Now, you only need a fourth of a cap full. But, wait, what if people are still using the old amount of the new and improved detergent? Doesn’t that mean that now 4 times the amount of chemicals are going to the waste water treatment plant with every load?
Maybe the real question isn’t how do we sell people a more environmentally friendly product, but how do we get them to use the environmentally friendly amount?
Originally posted: 3/21/10