photo fabbio @ flickr
Plastic...there will be little sorrow among TreeHuggers if the price of oil forces packagers and the populace to cut down on plastic use. But here's a usage of plastic (and we grudgingly admit there are many) that has got to be hailed as extremely savvy - researcher Stephen Burkinshaw at Leeds University in the UK has developed a technology that employs just a cup of water and detergent plus 45 pounds of plastic pellets to do the wash - saving 98 percent of the water a regular machine water would use and potentially, billions of gallons annually.
Water and energy savings
The water and detergent essentially dissolve the dirt from clothes, while the plastic pellets - each about half a centimeter (0.2") in diameter - serve as a solid solvent to absorb the dirt. The pellets are then dropped *into a special tray* at the bottom of the front-loading washer, and can reportedly be used for up to 100 washes. And (big plus) clothes emerge from the cycle nearly dry! A spin-off (ha!) company called Xeros is in the process of commercializing the pellet washer, and says machines could be available in Britain in just a couple of years. *correction Via ::Daily Mail and Xeros