Dirty Dishes


Every day, I pen a syndicated column called “Do Just One Thing” that appears in newspapers across the country. Over the past several years, I’ve accumulated thousands of tips that not only help people live a little bit greener each day, but are smart ways to cut waste and save money as well. In each issue of this magazine, I’ll round up my all-time favorite tips. They’re clever, fun, and simple enough that I think you’ll Naturally love to try them. –DANNY SEO

  1. Tourist Trap: Did you know it’s illegal to take sand from beaches in Hawaii? And it’s also illegal to purchase sand online if it’s taken from Hawaii. The reason is an uptick in erosion, causing Hawaiian beaches to shrink. It’s easy to understand why this sand is for sale: it’s colorful, it’s unusual, and it comes from a breathtaking destination. If you do see sand for sale online, report it to help get the listing removed. And always remember—even small amounts in your shoes and bags should be shaken out and left on the beach wherever you go.
  2. Dirty Dishes: Did you know modern-day dishwashers and detergent depend on grease and grime on your dishes to work as efficiently as possible? It’s your dirty dishes that help activate compounds to get to work and clean everything. So if you’re pre-rinsing everything before putting in the dishwasher, stop. First, it’s not necessary anymore; just scrape anything into the trash or compost before you load up your dishwasher. Second, it’s a waste of water, a lot of water—approximately 55,000 gallons over the life of the appliance.
  3. Greener Juice: Are you looking for a new juicer to make freshly squeezed juices at home? Consider a “gear” juicer instead of the “centrifugal” style. Here’s why: A centrifugal juicer breaks up the molecules of the fruits and veggies, which means any chemical and bacterial residue ends up in the finished juice. A gear juicer presses produce without disrupting the molecules, which means more chemicals end up in the pulp and not the juice. But whichever model you choose, be sure always to wash your produce. Even organic produce has residual dirt and bacteria that can make you sick.
  4. Cash from Scrap: Are you working on a home improvement project that has lots of scrap-metal waste? Not only is your trash heap recyclable, but it can put some money back in your pocket as well. The app IScrap helps you identify the scrap-metal recycler nearest you, specifies the types of metal they take, and even lists the current average price per pound the recyclers are paying for it. Hours, addresses, and additional information make it as easy as possible to make sure your scrap metal stays out of the landfill.
  5. Soap Saver: There are new brands of all-purpose body/hair/face bar soaps hitting the market that do a wonderful job at getting you clean—without the waste of plastic bottles. But over time, bar soaps of any kind break down and become soggy. One trick is to place a new sponge under the bar in the soap dish or on the shelf where you keep it. That prevents it from sitting in a pool of water, and it won’t stick so it’s easy to grab and use.