Got a lot of blackberries? Then check out this recipe for Blackberry Mojito Fruit Leather.

I'm not a huge fan of fruit leathers, but this turned out super good! And, really, you can't go wrong with blackberries, mint and rum.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Busting Brita's balls

Take Back the FilterFake Plastique Fish has taken on a new effort to force responsibility back on Brita for recycling their enormously wasteful water filter cartridges. I'm pretty sure I haven't discussed water filters on my blog since I don't really use them.

I'm more of a tap water gal, even though we have filtered water through our refrigerator. Either way, I'm appalled at the fact that Brita doesn't have a recycling program in the U.S. yet they have one in Europe. This is a point that has always ground my crackers and I'm surprised I never got around to bitching, I mean, blogging about it before.

Anyway, Brita is the #1 water filter in the U.S. and Canada and I'm sure between both countries we blow through tons of water filters that head directly to the landfill to ooze out their chemical goodness.

For those of you who do use water filters, I urge you to reconsider whether or not this is truly necessary. Have you had your water tested? Does it taste bad enough to warrant so much waste? Either way, git on over to the Take Back the Filter site to sign the petition.

Ms. Plastique has also set up a way for you to send her your used filters. It is my understanding that at this time she is only accepting filters from Brita. I'm not suggesting that you switch since you'll have to do something with your old system, but this is a start.

If you're feeling adventurous, you can try to refill the disposable filter. I don't know how easy or safe this is, but thought I'd let you check it out for yourself. I, personally, wouldn't feel comfortable doing this, but that's just me.

This sounds like a great time for a poll! Or two.



37 comments:

CindyW said...

I think the fact that Brita does not recycle in the US has a lot to do with our loose policy. Japan and many European countries also require that electronics manufacturers take back all their crap. I guess we still have enough land to stick trash in.

Samantha said...

I use a water pitcher with a filter, and will continue to use one. Yes Brita makes it, but honestly I'd rather go through a single filter every three months (we don't change ours every six weeks or whatever it is, they can last a LOT longer than that). The water around here is really bad, as in you can take a glass fill it with water, then let it evaporate. When all the water has evaporated you will see a layer of filth left in the glass. I'm sorry, but I am NOT going to drink that. Also with all the crap cities put into water, even if the water was of better quality, I'd still filter it. I have no intention of drinking chlorine (there's no way that's good for your body) or fluorine (hello cancer).

Keri said...

You are missing a very important possible answer to add for each poll: 'well water' for the first one and 'none' for the second. We have well water (very common here in Vermont) and it's delicious! No filter needed. We just had it tested-nothing bad in there. =)

camp mom said...

We also have well water and the smell from all the magnesium and everything else could drop an elephant. No rotten egg smell but all the other minerals make it smell and taste awful. We use a filter on the faucet in kitchen sink-all our nieghbors have the sam eissue of cruddy water. But then agian considering the lack of water in other areas I'll take the crappy water we have.

Malva said...

I'd say well falls under tap.

It's not because my water comes from a tap that it necessarily comes from the city, it could just as well come from a well. kwim?

susan said...

We use a brita, and we won't stop until we move to a house with better water. Our well water is TERRIBLE. We have a huge amount of sulphur, magnesium, and iron in our water, the the unfiltered result is like bloody rotten eggs (I know you're not supposed to get sulphur and iron in the same well, but we apparently won the jackpot). The ground water around here is hit or miss, though, so the next place we get could have fabulous water. Friends who live about 10 miles away have the best tasting water I've ever had, and it's also well water.

Yes, my name is Arizona said...

We have an RO system and I like it a lot. More than a lot. I never thought about the filters, though. I'll have to see if there's a recycling program for our brand (I think its GE). I also have a PUR pitcher filter, but we don't use it very often since we now live in the city and our tap water is wonderful. We have the RO to filter out the chlorine and other crap the city puts in there. But when we lived in the country we had well water and it was disgusting. The RO system made it drinkable.

Greenpa said...

jeepers, Crunch, are you TRYING to make me feel like a freak?? According to you, I don't FIT- AGAIN. None of the above.

I'm going to go eat worms.

We get our water the OLD FASHIONED way- out of a well, with a windmill.

How would YOU feel, if you went to kindergarten, and the teacher said, "ok, children, we're going to talk about all the ways people live!" and - you weren't included??

sniff.

Angelica said...

I use a Brita filter. Judging by my city's Water Quality Report our water is fine but it tastes awful, so Brita it is.

Fountainpen said...

I use a cheap knock off brita pitcher filter. The tap water killed off three pet fish in a matter of days, so I'd rather not drink it. Plus, I grew up in Vermont with well water than moved to Chicago so that's a major downgrade. I don't change filters very often, my first filter lasted a year and a half.

DC said...

I have been doing a little research to determine if our family should keep using water filters. Here is what I found:

-- Environmental Working Group (EWG) tested municipal water in 42 states in 2005 and detected 260 contaminants in public water supplies, 140 of which were unregulated chemicals (chemicals for which public health officials have no safety standards). EWG did, however, find over 90 percent compliance on the part of water utilities in applying and enforcing existing EPA standards for drinking water. You can read EWG's executive summary here.

-- The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) also conducted extensive municipal water tests in 19 cities. It found that tap water quality varies widely from city to city. Some cities have excellent tap water; most have good or mediocre tap water; and some have water that is sufficiently contaminated so as to pose potential health risks to certain at-risk consumers. The NRDC concluded: "If you are an adult with no special health conditions, and you are not pregnant, then you can drink most cities' tap water without having to worry. However, pregnant women, very young children, the elderly, people with chronic illnesses, and people living with weakened immune systems (because they have HIV/AIDS, had an organ transplant, or are on chemotherapy), can be especially vulnerable to the risks posed by contaminated water." You can read NRDC's executive summary here.

-- You can check the quality of the tap water in your city here. Keep in mind that pipes in some homes may leach lead and other contaminants into your drinking water, so if you're really concerned about drinking water quality, you should have your home water tested.

-- Keep in mind that not all filters filter out all contaminants. If there is a specific contaminant in your water that you are concerned about, and you decide to use a filter, make sure that you buy one that filters out everything you want it to.

I haven't yet come to any firm conclusions yet about our family's drinking water. It meets EPA standards, but there are many chemicals unregulated by the EPA, and there is a big history of cancer in my family. Bottled water is extremely wasteful and is definitely out, but I am a little reluctant to ditch our filter just yet. I will have to give this some more thought.

barefoot gardener said...

I, personally, can't drink our city water. It makes me ill. I have wanted to get a filter system (since drinking gin, vodka, and other clear liquids all day every day just can't be healthy) for quite some time. My folks have a Brita system and they only change the filter once every few months. Maybe not the best solution, considering the trash issue, but I definitely think it is a better option than the "bottled water" choice.

Britta said...

Despite sharing a common name, and even living through the "explosive" 1993 Cryptosporidium outbreak in Milwaukee, I am proud to say I still drink tap water.

(a filter wouldn't have caught crypto anyway)

Fighting for good municipal drinking water should be a concern. Why let our water get commercialized to the point where only the rich can afford good water?

Anonymous said...

Here in the Dallas TX area, the water comes from man-made lakes that bloom algae all summer, requiring some nasty tasting chemicals to make safe to drink. We buy water in large 5 gallon bottles, because the tap water here tastes like dirty lake water. I'd like to stop using bottled water, but the tap water is so gross!
I've used Brita filters before, but the cost savings is not there, and it does not improve the taste. Also you can't recycle them! (not that we have recycling in my backwards suburb)

Anonymous said...

I've got a Big Berkey - it is stainless steel and the filters last about 10 years. Check them out!

Maeve said...

My tap water is safe to drink, but smells and tastes of chlorine/chemicals. It's probably not noticeable to a lot of people, but I'm hyper-sensitive to such things. I would be buying filtered bottled water if I didn't have a Brita pitcher in the fridge, and that would generate a LOT more waste. I've been using this pitcher for 7+ years.

hedgeshappenings said...

We filter our water with a Berkey. I love the taste and the filters last a very long time.

Kim

Anonymous said...

We drink the tap water and use the Britta water for fish and filling hot water bottles.

MEA

Mtn Canary said...

We're on a well and have good water. There are many places in our county that have awful mineralized water (iron and sulphur). Good water was a requirement when we were looking for a property. In town, you're best off not drinking the water. There are hazardous levels of carcinogenic compounds in the town's "treated" drinking water. In fact, our town is known to be a "cancer cluster".

ashley said...

We have well water too, but when we lived in the city we used an AquaRain filter.

Tara said...

Like a previous poster, I live in the Dallas area. No problems with "dirty lake water" taste for me, just the VERY STRONG taste of chlorine. It's completely unbearable. We use Pur filters, but we "reset" them and use them two or three times before replacing. Basically we only replace them when the water literally won't flow through them anymore.

Leila said...

I drink unfiltered water straight from the well. I agree that in most cases a filter is unnecessary. But in some cases it is warranted, as in when the water has a really bad taste or smell. And reverse osmosis is important for health if the water is high in nitrates, especially for pregnant women. But just because when your water evaporates it leaves a film of crud does not mean you need a filter. The "crud" is probably just calcium and other minerals which are not bad for health. In fact europeans pay extra for mineral water. I would also highly recommend avoiding water softeners unless your water is really really hard (there is nothing wrong with a little hardness). They discharge a high volume of salt into the ground water, and once salt is there it is really hard to get out. Also never drink from the hot water tap due to copper/lead leaching out of your pipes.

Fake Plastic Fish said...

Thanks for posting about our campaign, Crunchy! Now I want the 3% who said they drink bottled water to fess up so they can be publicly humiliated.

Yeah, it's that kinda morning. Need coffee now!

novemberjuliet said...

hee hee..yeah, I have a Brita, but haven't changed the filter in well over a year. So basically I just drink tap water that is chilling in the fridge.

maryann said...

After reading some of the comments I guess I am one of the very fortunate that has good tasting well water. We do have a water softener system installed which is a sort of filter I guess but uses pottasium salts to remove some of the hard minerals, no 'filter' required.

Melissa said...

I've been drinking only tap water for a few months now. Even though it tastes like mildew. The city assures us this is safe. It's gross, but I'm sucking it up.

stella said...

I use a filter. I'm not sure why anymore. I will try tap today to see.

Marie said...

I just got a Brita pitcher for my birthday. My parents bought it for me because they knew I wanted to curb my addiction to Aquafina. And not only am I not buying anymore bottled water, I'm drinking MORE water. I only just got it though so I was unaware of the filter issue.

ANewDay said...

We have an under the sink filter and we have a water softener. I have to say, I'm thinking we don't need the under the sink filter.

I am trying to figure out if we can disable it so we don't have to replace the filters.

Heather said...

I agree with Britta (the poster, not the company!) - if those who can afford it just by-pass the municipal water system and buy filters, then those who can't afford it will have no choice but to drink crap water. Support your municipal water system and, if it's not up to scratch, lobby the officials!

The World Health Organisation has standards for drinking water, and so long as your water meets those, you are unlikely to have any really pressing need to use a filter unless you have special health issues or something. Palatability is mostly about familiarity - if you're used to filtered (or bottled), then other water will taste yuck. However, if you stick with it for a couple of weeks, it will taste normal and your old water will probably taste yuck. So long as it doesn't have bugs or loads of minerals in it, you should be fine.

And if you're worried about chlorine, let it stand around on a bench for a while (maybe with netting over it to protect it from flies etc.). Chlorine is a gas and it will just evaporate away.

Then you can give all the money you save on filters to some charity digging wells in the third world, where they *really* need clean water.

Glenda said...

We use a RO under-sink filter in our kitchen and change the filters twice a year. Seeing what the used filters look like, that is not stuff I want in my body or the bodies of any of my family members. Our city water system is falling apart (literally, pipes bursting all over the place), and the water quality report each year is marginal at best. As long as we live in this town and have the means to filter our drinking water, we will.

In recent weeks hubby and I have been talking about ways to make use of the water that is wasted during the RO process. No real solutions yet, but we're still brainstorming.

Anonymous said...

In the interest of full disclosure, my tap water comes out of a 300 foot deep well in the middle of my yard. I don't think I could drink unfiltered Seattle city water, although I know the source is pure enough. Too much chlorine!

Rosa said...

Hey, you guys all know that chlorine will evaporate at room temperature, right? I live in Minneapolis and our water is generally great (though I did drink filtered water when I was pregnant -we have seasonal issues with farm chemical runoff) but I lived a ways downstream of here on the Mississippi river for a long time, and since there's sewage inputs all up and down the river, the farther south you go the more chlorine it takes to make the water safe.

Anyway, sitting a pitcher of water out at room temperature overnight should let most of the chlorine evaporate, and you can make it taste "fresh" again by pouring it from one pitcher to another to re-oxygenate it - check out this site http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/gen06/gen06449.htm

emily said...

Rosa, thanks for the post about the chlorine. That's good to know. The nasty public-pool smell is why I have a brita.

In the city where I am soon moving, the water is filled with minerals. At my husband's office they have a communal espresso machine. If they don't de-calcify it once every two weeks or so, it becomes permanently clogged. I've heard reports that washing machines can become unusable in a couple years, so people put pellets (of... what?) into the input hose. ...so, we will have a filter there and use it religiously. Guess how people make tea? Put filtered water into the kettle, and then pour it (boiling) through a paper coffee filter into the teapot. You can reuse the coffee filter umpteen times--until it gets so crusty that the water doesn't flow through it anymore. Yikes.

Heather said...

Hi emily,

I used to live in Basel in Switzerland and we had 'hard' water like that. Vinegar (or lemon juice) becomes your best friend. It will easily and safely remove buildup from taps, pipes, kettles etc. - just boil the kettle with a bit of vinegar in the water to clean the kettle or wipe tap outlets etc. with a cloth with a bit of vinegar on it. I never had trouble with our laundry machine, but I expect that running it empty with vinegar in the water should clean it out nicely without damaging anything.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe you didn't list Berkey filtration systems...they are incredibly effective, and the filters last a loooong time. One tip: buy their filters, and make your own container for them...they charge way too much for two plastic bottles and a $2 hardware store valve

Dana Seilhan said...

I use Brita because I don't fancy drinking chlorine. And I know you can let chlorinated water sit out overnight and the chlorine will out-gas, but I also don't trust municipal water. I know I'm supposed to trust it since it's, like, tested and everything? But the numbers they give you for how clean the water is are based on averages. So if we suddenly got an influx of giardia into the system, the first I'd know of it is when I got sick. Or when my daughter did, and she's three. Also, I live in an apartment building that was erected in the late sixties, and I have no idea what condition the pipes are in, and I believe the Brita filter removes lead, right?

I can't afford a reverse-osmosis system, so that's right out. I found my pitcher at Goodwill for less than three bucks, so at least I didn't buy that new. But I'm delighted that I have a place to send my filters now. Thank you.

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