Friday, 8 April 2011

Recycling water filters.

Many of us, including me, believe that by using a water filter and not using plastic bottles, we are helping the environment, and we are.  Certainly the avoidance of the plastic that would otherwise be either deposited in our landfills or recycled is a step in the right direction. 

While I do believe that not drinking water out of plastic bottles is a great step in the right direction, I started to find it somewhat ironic that most people that deliberately avoid such practices (including myself) continue to be reliant on filtered water and the plastic-coated filters that produce it.  I, for example, love Brita filtered water.  I've had Brita water jugs in my fridge that use filters comparable (or possibly identical) to the ones at the left of this post, for a decade or so now.  I blame it on the carbon filter, I just love the way the water tastes.

But, the probem is, if I've been thinking that I'm helping the environment by not having to recycle all those water bottles, I'm still using a plastic filter that absolutely cannot be recycled and therefore will end up in a landfill.  While these and other filters do represent a reduction in the use of plastic, this is still a problem.  So I started to try to find a water filtration system that uses recyclable or even reusable filters.  I know there is no way to live "perfectly", but my opinion is that if you can make a change, and its easy and inexpensive, then why not?  The entire purpose behind this blog is to share these small and do-able changes with others.

Well, I was sadly disappointed when I began my search.  I was able to find only one water filtration system that had a filter that was reusable without being recycled, and it was not at all what I was looking for, being both expensive and a stand alone cooler.  However, I then thought of looking into the recycling of Brita filters, which makes sense for me because I'm a current user.  I was pleased to find that used Brita filters can be recycled by Preserve in both the US and Canada.  Preserve is a company that recycles 100% of the filters (and the packaging they are returned in) into products such as those at the left.  If you live in Canada, dry the filters, put them back in the cardboard packaging they came in (so don't recycle it or throw it away when you open the box!), print out a pre-paid shipping label found here, and send them in.  If you live in the US, either take your used filters to a Gimme 5 location, or send them in to Preserve.

I think the questions surrounding water filters taught me something very important about environmentalism: even when you think you are doing something that is good for the envirornment, there is always something more that you can do to reduce your footprint.  For me it is a question of balance.  Nobody will ever be perfect, but each person can always do better.  Depending on how you look at that, it is either inspiring or daunting.  I choose to be inspired.

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