But do you have that level of dedication? At the end of the day, there won't be much of an environmental difference between an ultra-efficient hand-washer and an ultra-efficient machine, as long as the machine is used wisely. The difference in time consumption, however, can be enormous—a fact that the Lantern, whose Lilliputian apartment lacks a dishwasher, knows all too well. And when you're working long hours and taking care of a family, time is often the most precious commodity.
So if you're content to spend dozens of minutes per day on hand-washing, making sure to follow the environmentally correct protocol each and every time, more power to you. But if you'd rather spend that time on something more rewarding yet don't want to suffer pangs of enviro-guilt, you can switch to an EnergyStar machine with the Lantern's blessing. Just promise that you'll scrape your dishes instead of pre-rinsing, use the shortest wash cycles possible, and buy phosphate-free detergents—or, if you're handy with a blender, make your own.
Is there an environmental quandary that's been keeping you up at night? Send it to email@example.com, and check this space every Tuesday.