Water Filtration Fun

berkey When you're researching different aspects of living green, it's easy to "want it all". The problem with wanting it all, is that it's very hard on your bank account! Everyone has to prioritize and decide what the most important changes are....and what will affect their health the most. With that said, I wish that I would have focused on our water sooner!

Water quality is something that I thought about, but I didn't ever make it a priority. But it kept coming up. I kept reading...researching...learning. And finally decided to do something about it. We drink SO much water in our family...we couldn't just keep ignoring the quality.

I know that there are varying opinions on whether or not tap water is safe. I'm not going to debate that here. Some areas are much better than others...but I am sure we've all heard about the stuff that CAN be in tap water (drugs, bacteria, etc). I just wanted yummy and safe filtered water for my family. So instead of debating the pros and cons of each systems, I will just tell you what we decided to buy. We were primarily deciding between a reverse osmosis system and the Berkey.

For years, we have used the Brita or PUR filters. I really didn't like storing water in plastic...and they do not filter flouride. After A LOT of research, we decided to go with the Berkey water system. We chose the"Big Berkey" and ordered it from More Than Alive. Why did we choose the Berkey?

  • It filters out a lot of yucky stuff. This is the filter used in 3rd world countries and can technically be used to filter water out of the gutter (although I wouldn't recommend it!).
  • It doesn't require under counter installation, electricity or water pressure.
  • It's portable. We wanted a system we could take with us when we traveled or if we moved.
  • The filters only need to be replaced every 3000 gallons (which equates to about every 2 years for us).
  • It filters out flouride (this is a hot topic...please Google it if you're interested)
  • It doesn't waste as much water as a reverse osmosis system.
  • It's made of stainless steel and not plastic (although they do offer a BPA-free plastic option).

We've had the Berkey for about 6 weeks now and we love it. Our water used to taste and smell horribly like chlorine and now it's yummy. Matt did have to build a stand for it so that it sat a bit higher than the counter (in order to dispense it)...but other than that, it's great. I think if I had to go back and do it over...I would probably buy the Royal (one size larger). We usually only have to fill it up once a day if it's just us...but when we have guests, etc. it would be nice to have a larger capacity unit.

Someday, I would love to have a "whole house filtration" system...but for now, the Berkey works perfect for us. In addition to the drinking water, we also ordered a Culligan filtered shower head. Our bodies take in A LOT of water/chlorine when showering/bathing...and chlorine fumes are not happy for your body at all. I didn't want by babies bathing in that! When Bella takes a bath, we just fill the tub with the shower head to ensure she is bathing in pure water.

So there you have it...water filtration fun!

What Counts?

When we were in San Francisco, I picked up the May 2008 edition of Common Ground magazine and found this interesting list of stats compiled by Jenny Rough. I found them really interesting and in some cases quite crazy (like the 2nd one!). They will make you think.

1.4 million Americans who suffer from hoarding or clutter.

80 Percentage of things Americans own that they never use.

300 Million Number of shoes thrown into landfills in the U.S. each year (donate them to www.giveshoes.org instead).

11 Percentage of retired personal computers that were recycled in 2001 (visit www.techsoup.com for info on donating computer hardware).

75 Percent of employed people of recycle at home (yet only 49 percent recycle at work).

5 Number of items needed for "zen-cleansing" (baking soda, borax, lemon, salt, and white vinegar).

25 Percent more headaches experienced by pregnant women who use air fresheners and aerosol cans at home.

92 Billion Number of plastic bags grocery stores and pharmacies go through each year (San Francisco was the first U.S. city to ban large grocery stores and pharmacies from using them).

Sources: treehugger.com, soles4souls.org, techsoup.org, Rastad USA survey, The Humble Art of Zen-Cleansing, New Scientist, Newsweek.

Beauty Products: Make The Change

Your skin is an organ. It sucks up every little bit of lotion and lather you put on it...and it goes straight into your blood stream. For those of you who haven't made the change to "healthy" soaps, lotions, lip balms, etc...please re-think your choice. I just cannot urge you enough to make these changes! It might be hard to switch out an item you've been using since Jr. High...but you just can't afford to continue using these products. Why? The U.S. has a beauty industry that is largely unregulated. Don't believe it? Check out "Not Just a Pretty Face" by Stacy Malkan. Here is a snippet from the book:

Lead in lipstick? 1,4 dioxane in baby soap? Coal tar in shampoo? How is this possible?Simple. The $35 billion cosmetics industry is so powerful that they've kept themselves unregulated for decades.Not one cosmetic product has to be approved by the US Food and Drug Administration before hitting the market. Incredible? Consider this:

  • The European Union has banned more than 1,100 chemicals from cosmetics. The United States has banned just 10.
  • Only 11% of chemicals used in cosmetics in the US have been assessed for health and safety – leaving a staggering 89% with unknown or undisclosed effects.
  • More than 70% of all personal care products may contain phthalates, which are linked to birth defects and infertility.
  • Many baby soaps are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical 1,4 dioxane.

Go to Skin Deep before you purchase anything. Don't assume that just because it's on the shelf at the Target and it has a really cool "organic looking" package that it's good for you and your children. Packaging is meant to be mesmerizing...they want you to buy their products. But don't be fooled. Be a label reader! Look past the pretty bottle and really examine what you are buying.

I was looking for something tonight on the site and came across a few of these "favorites". They might not be your favorites after you read on...

Bath and Body Works Cucumber Melon Anti-Bacterial Soap

Suave Men's Shampoo

Blixtex Lip Balm

Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo

Do your research and choose items that have very few ingredients and that you can pronounce. That will narrow it down to just a few lines of products...so now your choices are much easier! :) Go for Aubrey Organics, or a line of locally homemade items (one of my favorites is Prairieland Herbs...check out their Cheek Gloss!). Better yet...learn how to make your own products and you'll save money too!

Photo credit: Auntie P/Flickr Creative Commons