Don’t toss your next used-up Brita water filter. Starting in January, Brita will provide recycling of its carbon filters, both pitcher and faucet attachment models—which remove common toxins such as lead—and channel that plastic into groovy new post-consumer products.

In our previous post on recycling water filters, we mentioned that Brita and Pur, the two mainstays of the carafe filter market, did not offer recycling programs. Until now, the only company that did so was Zero Water (wrap the filter in two plastic bags and ship it Attn: Recycling, Zero Technologies, LLC, 4510 Adams Circle Unit F, Bensalem, PA 19020). But thanks to efforts like Take Back the Filter’s petition, starting in early January, Brita will partner with Preserve, the leading maker of 100 percent recycled household products, in taking back their products and taking responsibility for their products’ waste.        

Consumers can drop off old filters and pitchers at participating Whole Foods stores or mail them to the Brita company. Preserve will then recycle the filter—and the box, if you mailed it—into nifty items like toothbrushes, cups and cutting boards. A full list of participating stores, as well as shipping instructions, will be available on brita.com in January 2009. You can get the details from Brita here.  

Since Pur still hasn't instituted takebacks for their products, we can give 'em a nudge by emailing them through their website, and asking them to take back their filters.

To top it off:  Drinking tap water is so much better than bottled water that we just have to give you the stats again. The Container Recycling Institute estimates that over 100 billion plastic water bottles—40 million a day—have already been tossed into landfills this year. All of those bottles require more than 17 million barrels of oil annually according to the Earth Policy Institute. If that wasn’t enough to send you back to the tap, the Environmental Working Group recently released a study revealing that some commercial bottled waters are less pure than tap water. EWG found pesticides, disinfectant residue, chlorine, fluoride, and even some bacteria in the 10 major brands they tested, and some water was so contaminated that it violated state laws. Icky! 

Let it never be said that petitions are useless. Thanks to the thousands of consumers who demanded corporate responsibility, we are one step closer to a sustainable society. Have a big glass of filtered water. You deserve it.

Story by Rachel Brown. This article originally appeared in "Plenty" in December 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008