The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

April 14, 2008

Brita Take Back The Filter campaign has begun!

Okay, remember all my posts about how frustrating it was that Brita filter cartridges can be recycled in Europe but not in the U.S.? And how we had our water tested and found it perfectly fine without plastic water filter cartridges? Well, giving up water filters was a fine decision for us here in the SF Bay Area where we have some of the best water in the nation. But it’s not a great solution for folks in other areas of North America that may not.

If you’ll recall, I set up a recycle_brita Yahoo! group to plan strategy for a campaign to urge Clorox, the company that owns Brita in North America, to develop a similar Take Back Recycling Program for Brita cartridges here. Now, after several months of writing to Clorox and planning our strategy, I’m happy to announce that the Take Back The Filter campaign has officially begun. Join us in asking Clorox to:

1) Redesign its Brita filter cartridges so that the plastic housing can be refilled rather than discarded each time the filter is changed.

2) Provide a take-back program, such as the one that exists in Europe, so that used cartridges can be returned to the company for recycling.

3) Create a system for the cartridges to be dismantled and the components recycled/reused domestically rather than landfilled, incinerated, or shipped overseas.

Please visit the new web site: for complete background information and to take action.

What are we asking you to do?

1) Sign the petition at

2) Send me your used Brita filter cartridges. I have set up a mailbox specifically for this purpose. Or, if you live in the Bay Area, you can email me to arrange pickup. Instructions are at At some point, we’ll deliver them all to Clorox (whose corporate office is just down the street from me in Oakland) to make a strong, visual statement.

3) If you’re feeling really motivated, please write a letter to Clorox. A sample letter is also included at, of course.

4) And finally, spread the word. Tell everyone you know. Collect their used cartridges and ask them to sign the petition. We even have a sample e-mail at at for you to cut and paste.

If you have a blog, please use the following code to paste this badge onto your site:

Take Back the Filter badge

<a href=""><img src="" width="160"></a>

Even better, write a blog post and encourage your readers to sign the petition and send us their filters. Wouldn’t it be amazing if a truly grassroots campaign like ours could help create change in a major corporation like Clorox?

So who is this “we” I keep referring to? We are Beth, Seth, Juli, Becky, Tom, Nicole, Barb, Margaret, Susan, Cat, and others who joined the recycle_brita Yahoo! group, wrote letters to Clorox and, when Clorox’s responses were less than encouraging, created this campaign. You can also read Clorox’s form letters to us at

Why am I not giving you more info in this post and why am I not linking to specific pages on the site? Because I really, really, really, really hope you will go to the site and browse around and check it out. It’s taken many sleepless nights, but I’m hoping it will be worth it.

Do I believe that getting a company to recycle a few (actually millions, but still) water filter cartridges is the biggest environmental challenge we face? Heck no. But I believe in the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility (which Seth brought to my attention), and this is my contribution towards creating a world in which companies consider the entire life cycle of the products they create, rather than simply pumping out more and more stuff and allowing it to pollute the planet at the end of its useful life.

I wish you could see me bouncing in my chair. I’m so excited to have this campaign finally sprung on the world. Can’t wait to find out what happens!

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eco 'burban mom
15 years ago

Thanks Beth! I posted this from both you and burbanmom on my blog. Of course, I am new and don’t quite have the readership you very-crunchy girls have, but every little bit counts and I WILL be sending you my Brita filters. I am so disgusted with Brita / Clorox. Apparently sniffing all that bleach has caused some permanent damage! Good luck with the campaign!

Mistress Mae
15 years ago

I know FPF (and her readers) are big on consumer activism, so I have excellent news for you! The BPA issue has gotten enough media attention to be an “Urgent Issue” at a Fortune 500 company! I’d repost all the news here, but it’s quite a lot. Just check out the latest post on my blog for the info. It totally encouraged me to keep spreading awareness and signing petitions, and I hope it does for you guys too!

15 years ago

dis iz report abowt how derez hi levvulz uv kemikuls in us ur furry petz! cuz we rollz on plastik karPETZ & chuz on plastik FURnicher. o noooooz!

terrible person
15 years ago

This is an article about an investigation into whether our friend the American Chemistry Council influences EPA decisions on toxicity.

15 years ago

should i not post the send to address ?

15 years ago

It’s appalling that they do this in Europe but not in the US and Canada. Brita US is owned by Clorox. Appalling because they are out their pushing their “Greenworks” line of eco-friendly cleaning products. Sound like a bit more of the corporate America saying how good we are while cutting down the playground swing? Well I say lets go one further…Until Clorox agrees to take back their Brita Filters, I say everyone boycott Clorox products. That would get their attention.

15 years ago

well, I’m convinced. I signed the petition and I posted a piece on my blog. Can you send me your address and I will send you my used brita filter? my email is smadaakkire at gmail dot com. what are you going to do with all of them? and please take documentary photos of the pile you get :)

terrible person
15 years ago

Canada is actually going to do something about BPA, not just issue a report about it!

I’ll bet someone in the Administration tried to get the report toned down.

For irony, here’s our friend the American Chemical Council’s take on it, as reported by fair and balanced Fox News.

The true north strong and free! (Of chemical industry domination, at least.)

Natalie Uschner Arroyo
15 years ago

Hi Beth,

I am a daily reader of your Fake Plastic Fish blog.

And wow, I really have to say that the Brita campaign is really great!!

I have been reading your blog for some time, and have followed many of your tips (stopped buying liquid soaps, shampoo, etc., got LUSH deodorant to avoid chems and plastic, always take my mug, make conscious decisions at the supermarket to avoid plastic, etc. etc. etc.)!

So, I want to help and do my part by writing to Clorox in support of taking back the filters! And let me tell you, what a FANTASTIC job you and the others have done on the Brita website!

I wish there were more people out there like you! (All it takes is for someone to show others that it really ISN’T that hard to change their habits so that they are better for the environment!)

Thanks, thanks, thanks!!
Natalie Uschner Arroyo

Gruppie Girl
15 years ago

Thanks for spearhading this Fakey!

I talked it up on my blog too.

15 years ago

Sent a comment via their webform. Thanks!

The Green Cat
15 years ago

Hey Beth. Still playing catch up but I just put up a quickie blog post linking here and to the site so perhaps a few more folks will trickle in. Thanks for getting the site together!

15 years ago

I tend to just drink tap water with ice cubes, but I am in full support of your campaign!! I will definitely write a letter to Clorox later today.

15 years ago

Trian, I saw the refilling of Brita filters link on LifeHacker a bit ago and forwarded it to Beth. She noted (rightly) that most people aren’t MacGyver enough to take their power drill and a bag of activated charcoal powder to refill their filter — nor should the onus of responsibility be lifted from Brita the company. But I’m with you! I’m definitely trying it! And Beth, thanks so much for getting this campaign moving! I will post about it for sure.

terrible person
15 years ago

News alert! The National Toxicology Program at the National Institutes of Health has concluded that bisphenol-A is a significant health problem! Read about it here (before the Wall Street Journal either makes you pay for the content or suppresses it as not good for business.)

15 years ago

i’m also interested in knowing how you tested your water. if we could get away with just using a pitcher in the fridge (or nothing at all), i’d much rather do that.

15 years ago

I am absolutely with you regarding the responsibilities a manufacturer should assume when it comes to disposing its products. I believe in Europe, all PC manufacturers are charged a fee for the eventual recycle/disposal of the computers. This should be and probably will be the future trend – manufacturers are responsible from their products cradle to grave. That is when manufacturers will have true incentive to conserve and reuse material.

BTW, what kit did you use to test your water? I am trying to convince my husband that we don’t need the filter. But he is not convinced. So I’d like to have the data speak.

Wild Orchids for Trotsky
15 years ago

Great initiative! Thanks for spearheading this. I’ve signed the petition and added your badge to my blog. I also have a post planned about water wars, and will be sure to mention your campaign.

15 years ago

Awesome! I am so proud of you for being the change that you want to see in the world. As if your blog wasn’t awesome enough, you do something great! Thanks so much for all of it!

15 years ago

I used to have a Brita for a long time – it seemed like a tragic waste (and would get cat hair in it – yuck).

I don’t like the taste of water in our neighborhood – I can pick up chlorine (I get enough of that at the pool) and I don’t want fluoride in my drinking water.

Do you know anyone who has suggestions for what kind of water filter to use? The City of Oakland, fwiw, does not recommend any type of filter because “we already filter the water for you.” Yeah and you add fluoride to it! Ick.

15 years ago

I’m not knocking your campaign. I plan to support it. But in the mean time, there is a way to refill the Brita filters. The link tells all.

Blue Collar Crunch
15 years ago

Chairs are bouncing over here too! This is exciting.

You know, I just realized I should test my tap water. I switched back to tap when I realized I really just liked *cold* water and the filters weren’t really making it taste better. (Don’t know why I even started using them, except that we got a Brita pitcher as a wedding present five years back.) But I have really have no idea about the safety of my local water. Ah, well, I drank it for years as a kid, so if it’s bad I guess it’s done its damage by now.

equa yona(Big Bear)
15 years ago

Great idea and thanks for the work.
Soon as we get moved, I will definitely send some support.