Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Eco friendly car wash

First of all, let me state that the picture to the left shows what not to wear while washing your car unless you are expecting to use your cleavage to hold the sponge. And, if that's the case, you'll really want to make sure you are using a non-toxic, and non-irritating, soap to do the job.

Anyway, what's the most eco friendly way to wash your car? That is, assuming you still have a car and haven't switched completely over to public transportation or personal modes of transportation (like walking or biking)? There are a number of "eco friendly" products on the market that tout being low phosphorus and the like, but what's the environmental cost of using them?

The biggest issues at hand are those dealing with water usage for starters, but the most striking problem has more to do with what gets washed off your car and goes down the storm drain. In most areas, the water that goes into the storm drain (the drains on your street) doesn't get processed by your local, friendly waste water treatment plant. Most likely it drains directly into your local waterways, affecting fish and other wildlife populations with the soap, grit, grease, salt, oil and pollution that has been collecting on your vehicle as you drive it about town.

How can you mitigate the junk coming off your trunk? Look for a car wash that uses non-toxic soaps and phosphate-free, biodegradable detergents plus one that recycles its wash water. If you don't have a car wash like that in your area, you can get your car washed at a car wash that sends the spent water to the nearest waste water treatment plant for processing.

Another option if the above isn't available or you don't want to pay for it is to wash your car at home using one of the no or low phosphate soaps on the market. However, if you wash your car at home, do it on a flat grass or gravel area that will absorb the wash water before it can run into the storm drain.

If you want to try something quite fancy you can check out the environmentally friendly car washes that don't require any water at all. So, not only do you save money and resources on water, but there's no water runoff. You would just need to clean the cloth you use to wash the car, but the water used for that would go to your waste water treatment facility. I haven't tried these products yet, but The Lucky Earth Waterless Car Wash, Eco Touch Waterless Car Wash, Freedom Waterless Car Wash and Dri Wash are some to check out.

Of course, like many alternative methods, this one requires a lot more elbow (or cleavage?) grease. Finally, when in doubt, I generally just don't wash my car very frequently. It saves all sorts of time, energy, money and resources. Plus, I'm just too damn lazy.

How do you wash your car and how often?

21 comments:

YogaforCynics said...

Hey, let's not forget that clothing requires natural resources for material, manufacture, and washing. As such, that young lady looks like an excellent conservationist who I'm sure washes cars in only the most eco-friendly manner...

As for me...I don't wash my car.

knutty knitter said...

Car wash??? Nope. Not round here. About once a year or so (when its been through a mud bath or something) it goes to the local car wash and thats it.

viv in nz

Farmer's Daughter said...

I just spray off the bottom of my car after the winter, to get the salt off.

As for the wastewater treatment plants, at least around here they don't treat for chemical contamination, only for Nitrogen and then bacteria. They're designed to treat sewage, not all the other chemicals found in wastewater. Not to mention that they need to be separate from storm water or the flow would be so great that they have to bypass in storms, releasing untreated sewage.

Interestingly, I'm taking a class right now and we're going to be testing sediment samples from our harbor for heavy metal contamination. I've heard that some samples are so contaminated that they're considered hazardous waste. Scary!

Mrs. Money said...

I use Dr. Bronner's to wash my car. :) It may not be what I'm supposed to use, but I figure what's it going to hurt? I haven't washed my car since I got it in October... now that's green!

Tameson said...

It rains here. I let nature take care of it.

Suzan said...

Our part of Australia has just left severe water restrictions. Car washing is a minimal thing now. The car gets washed in an approved car wash when it needs it or if we are desperate a quick splash on the lawn. Bucket washing a car means you use vary little chemical as there is not a lot of water to rinse the car off.

Adrienne said...

I just don't wash my car very often, maybe three times a year. In fact when i go to the car wash I notice that a lot of peoples' cars are cleaner before they're washed than mine is after. ;)

Michelle said...

Dr. Bronners! I love it and if I dry the car off with a towel, it does not have any spots. I just hang the towel to dry for next time. And the kids love that we wash the car on the lawn. Somehow that is even more fun.

Katy said...

I don't wash my car that much, but I do watch it. When you leave it parked for long streches of time... bird dropings get on it and there does come a piont where it starts to get discusting.

LynnieBee said...

I take my car to the car wash every few months, and I try to go to places that recycle their water...my Mom refuses to go to a car wash because she finds it too expensive, I've been trying for awhile now to get her to wash her car on our lawn instead of in the driveway, no luck yet, but I'm still workin on it!

Robj98168 said...

I use waterless cleaners and I love them. Also Get a "California Duster" an amazing little item that takes the dust off your Merc.And if you need to wash your car, do it on the lawn. That way water is not sent down the storm drain, and you water the yard at the same tine, Another hint: Mr Clean Car Wash system- actually allows you to wash the car without so much waste!

Robj98168 said...

Also- using a car wash is a good Idea- usually they are required to hold the water and run though a seperator before relasing the waste water

Laura said...

Dude, did you say cleavage grease? That's hilarious. :)

Oh and I never, ever wash my car. It's easy to get away with since I don't have one. :D

Condo Blues said...

I let the rain wash my car. Now the dog's a different story. He was beaten when groomed in his preus life. His behaviorist (yes, my dog had issues so severe we called a pro for help) suggested that we bath him outside on a leash that way when he needs a break, he can move away from the water on his own unlike being "trapped" in a bath tub and freaking out. He tolerates bath time and earns treats for good behavior. Since I have to bath him in the driveway I use an environmentally friendly dog shampoo and as little water as we can to get the job done.

Oldnovice said...

My husband just washed the car last week for the first time in (I can't remember the last time). I'd been complaining that every time we grocery-shopped of late my pants got filthy getting the groceries into the trunk. First time I'd ever seen him wash the car at home; he'd always used a car wash previously.

He asked me for a bucket & liquid dish soap (Palmolive), so I assume that's what he used, and he did it in the driveway.

I worried more about the water he used than bad stuff getting into the storm drains. He's pretty stingy with water, though, so I'm sure he thought of that, as well.

Neighbor across the street has three cars and washes them in his driveway every week.

Rosa said...

This is where being total slackers makes us eco-heroes - we try to wash our car at least once a year, in the spring after the snow thaws. My father and my partners father are sure rust is eating it's way up from the underside of the car, but I haven't noticed any.

Oh, and every month when I get gas I wash the windows with a squeegee.

saskatsguidetocheaplivin said...

Wash mine twice a year, once after winter to get the salt off, and once after summer to get the sap and lake flies off. And I go to a car wash that recycles it's water.

Allie said...

My car gets washed when it rains or when I get my oil changed (the nice people at Honda like me to have a cleaner car than I'll ever care about). I'm way too lazy to wash my car, or even care how dirty it is, so I leave it up to Mother Nature.

Dianna said...

that's totally how i dress to wash the car, what's the problem? :)

i almost never wash my car. maybe once during the winter, when there hasn't been any rain or snow to take care of it for me and it's getting to the point where you have to be careful not to let any piece of your clothing brush against the car and the windshield is only see-through where the wipers clear it -- then i go through a car wash.

it pays sometimes to be bone lazy.

Anonymous said...

I like it because it gives me the freedom to wash my car sans water

Walter Jeffries said...

I'm another who just lets the rain do it. Too many other things to do and it will just get dirty again. We live on a farm on a dirt road so it isn't something that is at the forefront of my worries. I do hope she's doing that in the morning or evening to avoid too much sun exposure...

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