Tuesday, August 26, 2008

We Interrupt Your Fun to Bring You This Environmental Message (Please Don't Yawn)

If you’re like me, you have eschewed bottle water of late and are doing your green Girl Scout best to refill your own bottles. I used to think that as long as my plastic bottles were being recycled, there was no harm in it. Now I know better. Our to-be-recycled bottles end up on slow boats to China, where who knows what happens. Maybe they’re actually recycled, but in the end, we’re still making our waste someone else’s problem.

Besides, lots and lots and LOTS of bottles still end up in landfills:

The above photo is by Chris Jordan, a Seattle photographer. It "Depicts two million plastic beverage bottles, the number used in the US every five minutes." Perhaps you’ve seen his other pieces, each focusing on visually arresting images of ubiquitous items we often waste, like paper cups, cell phones, and paper bags, that show at a glance how quickly our junk adds up. In this collection of his work, called Running the Numbers: An American Self-Portrait, mundane objects are presented in ways that set my jaw to dropping—and my mind to thinking.

I think of Mr. Jordan’s work each time I walk down the water aisle at my beloved Trader Joe's. (Only 89 cents for 1-liter Spring Water, such a deal!) I had been buying them occasionally and then refilling them for weeks, but each one eventually ended up in the recycle bin. So I stopped myself and returned to refilling my Nalgene-esque water bottles. Now I hear they leach harmful chemicals into our bodies, so we’re not supposed to be using them, either. Aluminum is the latest craze for refillables, but I’m not about to fork over $18 bucks for a water bottle when I have so many already, purchased when Nalgenes were okay and I had more money a job.

So there I am, cheerfully humming and dutifully refilling my green, red, and blue cancer-delivery systems bottles with nice, filtered water from my Brita pitcher when I receive an email alert that pretty much ruins my morning. Said that my plastic Brita filter was not recyclable. Guess I knew that. In our house, D. is the one who always changes the filters (he’s a prince), so I was not really conscious about (ok, ignoring) where they went. But of course it’s not the recycle bin. In the garbage they go, where they’re gathered up and dumped in the landfill. And what about all that chlorine and lead and whatever else they’re filtering out? Leaches into the ground. Perfect.

In the UK, Brita has a take-them-back recycling program for their filters. Not so here in the US of A. So if you use Brita filters—and you’d like to recycle instead of tossing them, consider signing this online petition and see if Clorox (yes, CLOROX) will do the right thing—and help us do the same.

That’s all. Carry on.

Brita filter photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.


jen @ the cubicle's backporch said...

We've been drinking more water lately (yay!) but alas, it has been out of plastic bottles (boo!). And we don't even recycle. Although I could probably get Mr. C to start burning them. Or is that bad too?

I think it's funny how one year they'll say that one thing is good for you, and then ten years later they release this study that OH NO- that one thing is BAD for you. I remember when they made the big stink about eggs and how horrible they were for you, and I just read a story about how an egg in the morning helps you lose weight. Who knows what they'll say next!

Nora Bee said...

I totally have water bottle guilt, too. Didn't know that about the Brita filters though. It's always something..

Sojourner said...

Thank you. I didn't know Nalgene was bad now, too. I mostly drink water from my fridge door out of a glass. But when I bike, etc. I do carry a water bottle. We have so many from everywhere that I would never even consider buying bottled water. Really had to work at talking the Jen (my Jen), out of it, but finally got to her.

Yes, there is always something, but all we can do is try, right?

I have seen this fellow's work via Mamabird's blog at Surely You Nest. It is astonishing when you see the visuals of those numbers!

HalfAsstic.com said...

Well, hell... sometimes it doesn't pay to get up in the morning...
It seems like there's a catch to every solution out there. How often do you have to change Brita filters? My water in the door fridge, has a filter that does a good job that only gets changed ever 4 to 6 months.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I'm sticking my fingers in my ears and singing "lalalalalala."

What is a trying to be environmentally conscious person to do now days?!