Thursday, 26 July 2007

Department of: I thought we'd solved at least part of this problem

Ask any gardener about fertilizer and you’ll hear that it’s necessary to keep a garden blooming and green. If you don’t enrich the soil, after a few years plants won’t thrive because essential nutrients will be used up. But what kind of fertilizer to use is a big question—chemical ones, or more natural soil additives like home-made compost and composted manure? I’ve used the latter kinds ever since I started gardening more or less seriously, with pretty good results.

But even organic, natural substances like manure can cause problems, particularly when they’re spread on fields in great quantities. The problem is compounded by other kinds of fertilizer used in intensive agriculture, and by people who pour on the Vigoro to keep the lawns at the cottage green The nutrients which make plants grow will also make blue green algae grow in lakes and rivers, and one species of the tiny organisms can produce toxins that can kill you

The first of the week, provincial officials announced that there are now 72 lakes and water courses in Quebec where blue green algae growth may cause health problems. Better controls on run-off from animal feed lots and from farm fertilizers are absolutely necessary, Greenpeace Quebec said on Tuesday. The provincial government should also ban dishwasher detergent containing phosphate, it added.

Actually I thought that phosphates were taken out of detergents more than 30 years ago: my first political action in Canada was a campaign by STOP, an anti-pollution group, which I had believed was successful. But it seems that in 1972 the regulations on the stuff you use in dishwashers were relaxed (although they seem to be still in effect for laundry detergent.) Good lord, you’ve got to pay attention all the time, don’t you?

In the absence of government action, Greenpeace suggests you buy dishwasher detergent without phosphate and call the stores where you trade to urge them to stop carrying offending soaps. Here is Greenpeace's list of acceptable dishwasher detergents:

Without phosphate
* BioVert Liquid (a Quebec brand)
* Bi-O-Kleen Powder
* Citrus Magic Gel
* Ecover
* Seventh Generation Powder
* Shaklee Basic-D Concentrate Powder
* Sun & Earth Tablette
* Trader Joe's Automatic Dishwashing Detergent

With phosphate, from the least bad to the worst
* Palmolive Gel 1.6%
* Electra-Sol Gel Gel 3.7%
* Wal-Mart Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Gel 4.0%
* Pure Power Gel Gel 4.0%
* Sunlight Gel Gel 4.3%
* Electra-Sol Powder Powder 4.5%
* Cascade Liquid Liquid 5.0%
* Sunlight Powder Powder 4.5%
* Cascade Complete Liquid 5.0%
* All Powder 5.1%
* Pure Power Powder Powdere 5.3%
* Hannaford Dishwasher Detergent Powdere 5.3%
* Shaws Automatic Poudre 6.0%
* Wal-Mart Automatic Dishwashing Detergent Powder Poudre 6.3%
* Cascade PureRinse Poudre 6.4%
* Cascade Action Pac 8.0%
* Electra-Sol Tablets 8.7%
* Sunlight Tabs 8.7%
* Electra-Sol GelPac 8.7%

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