SWRC Blog: The truth, the whole truth, and … huh?

SWRC Blog: The truth, the whole truth, and … huh?

It’s a good thing (well, at least, it’s a good thing for them) that advertisers aren’t on the witness stand in court. They have a knack for undermining that oath.

A long-time SWRC member pointed us to the recent Cascade dishwasher soap campaign that encourages people to use their dishwashers every day to save water. Innuendoes aside, the ad references the fact that Energy Star dishwashers typically use less water than washing by hand. This is not new information. They go on to say that we all should use our dishwasher every day because even a small load uses less water than hand washing.

Okay, so that’s the truth part. But is it the whole truth? This article from Sense tackles that for us, going through the ad and showing that water use is not the only environmental impact a dishwasher has. There’s also energy, and the argument doesn’t hold up under the energy use lens. And, anytime you do an activity comparison, you have to make assumptions about how that activity is done, so there are ways to hand wash dishes using less water than a dishwasher, they’re just not considered ‘typical’. 

But it’s in the ‘nothing but the truth’ part that advertisers would really struggle with. Okay, so dishwashers use less water than typical hand washing, but then the ad goes from there to recommend running the dishwasher every day regardless of how full it is. Someone explain to me how, if you have a dishwasher, running less than full loads helps anyone. Oh, right. You’ll use more soap that way. Funny how that works. But if you have a dishwasher, in which case the running it daily instead of handwashing is moot, why wouldn’t you go for maximum water and energy savings by only running it when it’s full? This saves the most water, energy and resources, and yet, Cascade wants to convince us we’re saving water by running it more often? Right, right, the soap thing. 

Not to mention, running the not-full dishwasher means you end up using it more and it wears out faster, which also has a pretty big environmental impact. Does Cascade make dishwashers too? I’ll have to check.