water droplet

I happen to live in the sunny state of Florida, an environment flush with water, but sadly lacking in good drinking water (unlike my former home in NYC which featured great tasting sweet H20 straight from the Catskills). Water filters are a must in Florida, as most municipal water supplies get their drinking water from shallow, swampy surface reservoirs or sketchy underground aquifers – meaning that municipalities heavily treat drinking water – requiring folks to do a little filtering of their own to ensure decent-tasting water with reduced chemical content.

If you’re filtering your drinking water you can either install an under-counter filtration system or use pitcher-style, or counter top systems – the most popular being Brita and Zero-Water, both of which we own. If you’ve used these filters you know you’ll go through an average of at least one filter per month. After a few months you’ll have a bunch of filters lying around your home or apartment. You might be able to avoid this if you’re willing to install one of many Quench bottleless water coolers, but they take up space so they might not be for everyone.

recycling symbolWhat to do with these old filters is a challenge. Zero-Water has a recycling program that requires you to ship the old filters back to them at your expense to receive a 10% discount coupon applicable to your next purchase from their web store. Brita filters has partnered with an outfit called Preserve and they’re Preserve Gimme 5 recycling program which is featured at many Whole Foods stores. We recently tried to recycle a few Brita filters at the Wellington, FL Whole Foods (listed on Brita’s website as participating) and found that the good folks at their customer service desk had no knowledge of the program and would not take the filters off our hands for recycling – not good.

After investing a little more time into recycling our collection of old Brita water filters, we wound up dropping them off at Whole Foods in Boca Raton. Finally, dilemma resolved.

It’s nice to know that companies like Zero-Water and Brita that create products which require filter replacement at least have some sort of recycling plan; (I’d like to know the percentage of used filters that are actually recycled).

The bigger issue is that the American consumer has been trained to take convenience, and disposability as a birth rite. Recycling is often viewed as an option rather than necessity. Unlike Europe, where manufacturers and retailers are required to have recycling and closed-loop lifecycle plans for their products, American companies are allowed to create mountains of disposable, single-use products with no responsibility for disposing of the remains of their product.

With landfills exploding, pollution on the rise and space a diminishing commodity the largest consumer society in the world has to start dealing with it’s waste issue… now back to boxing up those Zero-Water filters… there really ought to be a better way…