Clean Wash

On my last trip to Laos, I sat along the Mekong River watching the gentle flow of the water. I felt peaceful. But then I noticed that large sections of the water were an eerie green. Long strands of algae moved in concert with the water currents like snakes. This is a bad thing. The algae sucks the oxygen out of the water causing the fish to suffocate.

I asked the locals about it and they told me that there is more algae every year. Why the build up? Because there are more soap detergents being discharged into the river. Most detergents contain phosphates, which act as a fertilizer for algae. Algae love this stuff.

The lakes and rivers in Ontario are also suffering from the same issue. The good news is that there is a growing awareness and action to solve the issue. Here at work, we’ve switched to phosphate-free dishwashing detergent. Going further, the product we adopted has ingredients from non-petrochemical sources and no animal testing was done.

How much does it cost? It’s not much. I did a quick cost survey of phosphate-free detergents and, on average, it costs about $0.21 cents per wash.

Bottom line? Why not give a phosphate-free detergent a try? It’ll clean your dishes just as well or better and protect the fish in our lakes and rivers at the same time.

Image of the Mekong River in southern Laos. Taken by Shawn Phelps.

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