There was a study by a university in Bonn, which took into account the dishwashing habits of 113 people, each cleaning 140 items.
On average, each person in the study used 103 litres of water, a dishwasher uses 15 liters. The test used electrical water heaters and the average dishwashing person used 2.5 kwh, where a dishwasher uses 1 kwh.
Of course we don't all clean 140 items every time we wash the dishes, but then we can wait a few days until the dishwasher is full too before switching it on.
Read an interesting article: http://environment.about.com/od/greenlivingdesign/a/dishwashers.htm
I think there are certainly instances where technology can be used to make improvements in the environment, and we shouldn't shy away from it!
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