Karen Siddall
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Thankful for the gathering of family and friends

So you’re going to have the family over for a holiday meal or snacks and drinks. Besides the all-important menu, preparation will include deciding on dinnerware and utensils for the event – paper or reusable, extra garbage or washing up after.

Paper and plastic may be the answer for saving time better spent with family. However, cleaning up dishes afterwards and sharing leftovers with family members may be part of your holiday memories and routine. And using reusable plates and utensils will save you both money and water in the long run.

Handwashing vs. Dishwasher

Studies have shown that dishwashers, especially those with the Energy Star™ rating, use less water to clean a full load of dishes than doing them by hand. Energy Star™ dishwashers use between four and six gallons of water per load depending on the cycle selected. Four gallons of water in a standard-sized sink doesn’t get you very far when handwashing a lot of dirty dishes, pots, and pans. And as for rinsing, every minute of water you run from the tap, two gallons are going down the drain.

Water Conservation Tip: If washing dishes by hand is necessary, wash them inside the largest pot you’ve used to cook your meal (like your turkey roaster). Rinse everything at once by starting with the largest pot. Put clean water in it to rinse the rest of the dishes.

For more information about water conservation, see the Prairielands Groundwater Conservation District website at

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