Sunday, May 3, 2009

Tap Water+Scuzzy Taste= Brita Filter

Growing up in a tiny village probably created my love affair with Nature. My mom tells me she used to point out and gush with me at all the trees, grass, flowers etc etc when I was little, instilling a deep love for our Mother Nature.

Living in such a small community (think no sidewalks and population 500) also meant that I had a different relationship with water. Our family has a well (at our cottage and our house) and we always, always drank water straight from the tap. Our well only went dry once that I remember and the water tastes fabulous. No chlorine or fluoride in our water and my hair is always happiest after being washed at home. (River near our cottage at the end of the summer)

Whenever we went to restaurants in "town" all the "villagers" (giggle) always grumbled and snarked at the "townie" water that tasted so disgusting. Poor townies that had to drink gross, municipal water with the zippy chemical taste. 

It wasn't until I moved out into various cities on my own that I came to realize that most city/town dwellers never drank from their taps for that very reason. My hair and skin changed from being exposed to the hard water. No way was I going to drink that chlorine flavoured water. I bought my first Brita Pitcher pre-University move and kept it in a fridge in my tiny dorm room and still have the same Pitcher in our apartment today. 

Carbon based filters like Brita use carbon, a porous substance, to absorb and filter specific impurities like lead, PCB's, chlorine by-products, certain parasites, radon, pesticides and herbicides some bacteria and some VOC's (National Geographic Green Guide). Fortunately city water systems are tested and treated more rigorously than water bottle companies or well water. However, there is that taste... the city water taste. So even though I know that tap water is safer in Canada to drink than bottled water (especially with all the 
phtalates leaching in from that plastic AND the fact that water is a human right... ok off the soap box lol), I hate the taste. (Atlantic ocean and view of windmills just off the shore in front of my parents house)

Unfortunately carbon filters also come with their own eco-issues like their packaging; a box containing plastic wrapped filters made of plastic going in a plastic pitcher. All these years of using a Brita I have been throwing my filters every three months into the garbage. Take away summers spent at home during University, and that leaves 27 filters over the past 8 years. Blegh. 

After spending lots of time looking through Preserves' website for my fun recycled toothbrush I discovered something awesome: Preserve in partnership with Brita Filters are now fully recycling all plastic Brita filters in Canada and the States!! WOO!! So no longer do any more Brita filters need to pile up in the landfills! Here's how to recycle your Brita Filter in Canada:

1. Dry the filter by shaking off excess water and setting it aside to dry for at least three days.
2. Wrap the filter in a plastic grocery bag (hmm wonder if there's an alternative for that? I would keep the plastic wrapper it came in) and pack it in a box (both plastic and boxes will be recycled). Send multiple filters at a time to save on emissions and packaging.
3. Mail filters via ground shipping at:

Brita Canada Corporation
PO Box 140 STN LCD Malton
Mississauga Ontario
L4T 9Z9
(similar process for the states, just different address)

Not sure about international recycling, but on Take Back The Filter they report that U.K. vs U.S. filters are made differently allowing them to be recycled in the U.K. but not as easily in the U.S. Also, that Brita was initially a German company that had recycling plants in the U.K. but the North American division was sold to Clorox in 2000. According to Brita's UK website all filters used in Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, France and Switzerland can be sent to the dealers and then recycled by Brita. I guess it's just North America that's falling behind on the recycling boat... no surprise there! (picture curtosy of Take Back The Filter)

One other tiny anecdote about tap water city vs country:
While in Montreal I visited an Aveda store (pre-break up) and was trying to problem solve with a consultant on how to get my hair back to it's smooth beautifulness it used to be at home at the "village". When we started talking about water hardness, I said that I wasn't sure as we had a well. She looked at me like I had four heads... "A WELL?? Like a hole in the ground?"  Me: "well, essentially yes".  Her: "Like in the movies?? Wow that must be so difficult, you have to turn the crank and bring the bucket up every time you need water??"   Me: "......."     LOL. I'm pretty sure rural Quebec has well-water communities and that not all city dwellers view well water this way, but it was funny nonetheless. 

Blessings and love that Tap Water :)


  1. I grew up with well water, but, thanks apparently to the pipes in our house, it tasted like crap (though worse in some parts of the house than others...when I visit my mom, I go downstairs if I want some water, rather than risking the completely undrinkable water in the upstairs tap.

    Though I used a brita filter for a while, for years now I've been back to drinking plain old tap water, and I'm fine with maybe there was a long term advantage to drinking yucky water growing up....

  2. Hi Eco
    I just took a half hour to read through the last month or so of your posts. There is so much to like. The yoga part interests me because I've lurked for about ten years in its shadow. It's just about time to do my first tadassana. I'm glad you are not overboard. I really learn from your eco posts -- and similarly, you are not self-righteous or holier than thou. Finally, you actually have CONTENT to share, not just "Oh, I washed my coffee cup today." I'll be back.

  3. I grew up on city water, and now have well water. I too am super lucky to live in an area that has GREAT water (Lake Superior), tho my water is not from the lake - I live too far out.

    LOVE IT! I can recycle my BRITA FILTERS now!! Even though my water is awesome, it is super high in calcium, and I've found that running it though a brita filter helps with some of the hardness - I don't get nearly so much build up in my electic kettle. Plus I can keep a pitcher in the fridge for the hubby who likes his water cold and one on the counter for me, who likes it room temp.


  4. Dr. Jay: haha, well there you go! I know that if my parent's well water goes bad then it's not as reliable or easy to deal with then the municipal system. I agree with you though, I have slowly gotten used to tap water and will definitely drink it at restaurants instead of bottled :)

    Crayons: Thank you so much! That is super sweet of you to say :) I think your blog is phenomenal and so unique! It always makes me smile.

    Kristin: Andrew prefers cold water too!! However, room temperature water is MUCH better for your vocal folds, which is important for you especially as you are a teacher- teachers are a huge percentage of the population of adults that Speech Pathologists see for voice loss :)

    I'm also super excited about recycling my filter!! :)

  5. My hair and skin are having to get used to regular tap water again after being "on" cistern water for the last couple of years. We collected all of our water in St.Thomas and it was nice not to have any chemicals in it, however, you could NOT drink it. I am very excited about being able to drink water straight out of the faucet!

  6. Hiya!

    I have listed you in response to a tag I recently received for promoting blogs that are new to you. Please do not feel obligated with this tag....

  7. Loved this - thanks for the info. What a relief to have filters that are recyclable! I haven't used my Brita in years, but I still have it, in case I need to move to a place with poor water quality.

    Loved the well story at Aveda! ;)


I love hearing from you! So I don't miss a comment, I like "pre-approving" them :)
I ask only that we stay respectful.
Also, please note that this is a personal blog and not a space for advertising your company. I reserve the right to delete "advertising" comments.

**NB: The ANONYMOUS option is the BEST way to comment if you don't have a blogger or established google/gmail account.