You probably didn't know that Brita, America's number one pour-through water filter, was owned by Clorox.
Now, the great news about Clorox's Brita filters is that they help make Americans feel good about tap water from our excellent municipal water systems, move off the throwaway plastic bottles (wanna try my ultra-cool reusable water bottle, by the way?), and stem the insidious privatization of drinking water. The bad news about Brita is that the filters themselves are disposable--throwaway--when they don't need to be.
Indeed, in Europe, the German company Brita, which sold its American operations to Clorox in 2000, takes back its cartridges. It shreds the plastic for reuse and reactivates the inner components--charcoal and "ion exchange resin"--for reuse either in more filters or wastewater treatment plants.
How cool is that? That's what you call treating resources with respect in a way that makes both the planet and its people happier. No poison fumes coming from incinerated Brita filters in Europe. Imagine how cool it would if we could say that here in the United States?
So why doesn't Clorox take back its Brita filters?
That's the question being asked by a group calling themselves Take Back the Filter, started by Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish, the blog about getting away from all things plastic. They want Clorox to start taking back Brita filters for processing and reuse in a Clorox facility (not for pawning off to some massive waste management conglomerate that will just ship them to developing world).
Already, Take Back the Filter is closing down on a thousand signatures on a petition, and people are taking it upon themselves to send used filters to the CEO of Clorox. It's been enough already to warrant a phone call to Beth from a Clorox executive.
See, we really can make a difference! And if you join in, we can make more.
Here's how you can help Take Back the Filter:
- Sign the petition.
- Write a letter to Clorox executives.
- Send us Take Back the Filter your used filter cartridges.
- Spread the word!
- Read more at Take Back the Filter
No one, by the way, is saying Clorox is bad. We're just offering them support in changing their business to a more sustainable model. The CEO has a lot more ammunition at his board meeting if he has a dump-truck full of consumer-returned filters to show. And dump-trucks full of filters will make great TV images, too (think of it: your old filter on TV!).
Lastly, you may be wondering, Brita filters? Why bother? Aren't there bigger fish to fry?
No way! The journey of a thousand miles and all that.
What Beth and her pals have started is the best kind of consumer activism. This campaign has the benefit of aggregating individual consumer power in one place. Its message has a much bigger corporate audience than just Clorox. Successful or not, Take Back the Filter shows all American companies that American citizens are ready to band together to demand better.
Go Beth! Go Take Back the Filter! Go all of us!
Colin Beavan (that's me!) is now leading a conversation about finding a happy, helpful life at Colinbeavan.com. If you want to know how people are breaking out and and finding authentic, meaningful lives that help our world, check it out the blog here and sign up to join the conversation here.