Running the Dishwasher Half Full

Last week my family came down with a nasty tummy bug. It was bad. My husband says he doesn’t think he’s been that sick in over twenty years.

Our entire home was struggling, the people and the house. So I did what I could when I felt able to do it. I washed laundry as needed to make sure we had towels and clean sheets available, and I ran the dishwasher half full. Now, I normally pack my dishwasher as full as possible; it’s almost a game to see how much can fit while still getting clean… But not last week. Last week was about survival. Last week was about making the best possible choice when the ideal choice was not at all achievable.

Free Empty Dishwasher  Stock Photo
Photo by Castorly Stock from Pexels:

I figure, washing a load of dishes in my dishwasher uses 4-6 gallons of water while the average paper plate requires 2-8 gallons of water for it to be produced, and that’s just for one plate! While water use isn’t and shouldn’t be the only deciding factor, it is an important one. Just that one fact lets me know that I would use less water to wash a single meal’s worth of dishes in the dishwasher than to use disposable dishes. Because when my family was that sick the options were not either running the dishwasher half full or completely full; they were running the dishwasher half full or asking a neighbor to drop off some disposable items.

We need to give ourselves grace when we need it. Being able to choose a less than ideal choice occasionally can lead to better outcomes over time, and allowing imperfection can give people the ability to live sustainably long-term.