Category Archives: Green

A Low Cost Filtration System for Africa

Children collecting water

Two students at Penn State’s School of International Affairs developed a low-cost water filtration system which can be used in many parts of Africa. Kory Hansen and Jin Ju Kim are part of the school’s Humanitarian Engineering and Social Entrepreneurship (HESE) program. Their challenge was to use no more than 2 people and no more than $200 in just 2 days to create a water filter based on resources available in Africa.

When the students tested the filters on campus, it removed 99.9% of bacteria and would drastically help a communty’s water burden if the system could be recreated in Africa. An integral part of the design of the filter was its commitment to local African resources in order to ensure sustainablilty in the future.

Naturally, Kim and Hansen hit obstacles during their quest for clean water, especially once they arrived in Africa. Other than the language barriers, they said the people were warm, welcoming, and very eager to help them with their project. They have both decided to continue their work with this project and other non-profit groups to help those in Africa. Nearly 3.4 million people die each year from lack of access to clean water. Millions more have to walk miles to retrieve water for their family or community, but more often than not, the water is not fit for drinking. Luckily, many people in Africa may have the opportunity to begin filtering their water thanks to these two students from Penn State’s HESE program!

The Global Water Crisis

You've probably been hearing more and more about the growing concern for the global water crisis. Frequently, countries like India, China, and many African nations are mentioned when discussing the need for clean drinking water. Many people don't realize that the water crisis also hits us at home and our neighbor, Canada.

Love the Earth

Climate change and population explosion are just two factors in the global water crisis. Nearly 800 million people worldwide don't have access to clean drinking water and another 2.5 billion are without sanitation. It's expected by the year 2030, the worldwide demand for water will outweigh supply by 40%.

Many people think Canada has one of the most abundant fresh water supplies in the world, however it only has about 2.5% of the world's supply. Unfortunately, due to budget cuts and reduced spending, the Canadian government has done very little to enact federal regulations on conservation and water quality for its citizens. What regulations and standards the Canadian government does have, many people feel it is old and outdated.

 

In America, many regions used to face water restrictions in the hottest parts of the summer. Now, those restrictions are lasting most, if not all of the year. Due to farm waste runoff, septic system discharge, and pesticide residue, one in three US lakes are not fit for swimming. In addition to gross stuff in our lakes and rivers, there are signs on the piers of the San Francisco Bay warning those who fish that the fish eaten from that bay may be hazardous to your health.

 

There are many ways you can do your part to help the global water crisis. It's important to conserve as much water as you can by using filtered water instead of bottled, taking shorter showers, and planting water-saving plants in your yard. Every step you take, no matter how small, will help ensure we have enough fresh water for the world in the future.

Are You Ready for Spring?

Even though Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, and New Years were a short time ago, spring is quietly sneaking up on us. Whether you're ready or not, it will be time to beautify your lawn and yard in just a short time. When you're planting this year, take time to plant water-conserving species to help you save water.

Plants

As more and more states are affected by droughts each year, many cities and towns impose water restrictions on its residents. Because water used for irrigation is good enough to be drinking water in many areas, we are only contributing to the clean water crisis. Two key components in water conservation is planning and management.

 

If your soil has high organic matter, like all the good stuff that comes from compost, it will help keep the soil fluffy rather than compacting. When soil is fluffy, water can travel more easily to the roots of plants to help keep them hydrated. Using mulch,even in the summer,is a great way to help your plants. Mulch keeps soil from losing water during evaporation. 

PRO TIP: Use a two to four inch layer of mulch around the base of your plants. It will also help reduce the amount of weeds that may pop up. 

 

When planning your landscape, stick to native plants which require infrequent waterings. Many plants can still be beautiful, but have evolved and adapted to live in your home's climate. Another characteristic of water-conserving plants are deep roots. Many home and garden centers are now labeling plants as native or water-saving, so be sure to look for these when shopping. Keep in mind that the native plants your cousins grow in Maine probably won't work if you live in Kansas.

 

To further maximize your landscaping efforts, be sure to know your area's hardiness zone and to get plants that can withstand the winters. The last thing you want is have a beautiful, water-conserving landcape in the spring, summer, and fall, only to lose it during the cold winter. 

PRO TIP: Check out the US National Arboretum's Hardiness Zone Map to help. 

 

Now, go start planning and planting! 

How Much Are You Paying for Tap Water?

At Fridge Filters, we're big fans of filtered water. We're not such big fans of disposable plastic water bottles. That's because water you buy at the store can cost anywhere from 50-2700 times more than filtered water from your faucet.

Say No to Water Coolers

Some supporters of bottled water may claim that their bottled water is from fresh mountain springs or secluded mineral wells on remote islands, however those claims may not be true. Recently, several businesses have been duped by water companies advertising "fresh, great-tasting spring water" when, in fact, it is merely municipal tap water. 

 

A plumbing company in Chicago recently filed a lawsuit against Nestlé Waters North America for this terrible lie in advertising. It was quoted "Nestlé Waters' failure to discloser this critical fact caused consumers to purchase five-gallon jugs thatthey wouldn't have otherwise purchased… and caused consumers to pay more" than municipal water costs.

 

Nestlé Waters North America is believed to have a 32% market share in the bottled water industry and sells brands like Ice Mountain, Poland Spring, Arrowhead, Deer Park, and Nestlé Pure Life. With so many brands under one corporate giant, this lawsuit could change the face of the bottled water industry. There is already an increased focus on bottled water sources, labeling, cost, and environmental issues surrounding production. 

 

Over the years, there have been other lawsuits similar to this one. Even major companies like Pepsi and Coca-Cola have been involved in them. At the end of the day, it's important to know that tap water in America is some of the best you can get in the world. Why pay 2700 times more when you can get the same great, quality water right from the filter? 

 

Will Watersheds Win the War on Fracking?

We like to update our blog with fracking information as often as possible. As more information comes out regarding the chemicals used and the water consumed, it's hard to find the good in fracking these days. 

Scientist looking at flask

Currently, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), under the Department of the Interior, is developing new rules and regulations on fracking. These new rules include policies on over 750 million acres of both public and private land nationwide. The Secretary of the Interior has even noted that the current rules "are in many ways outdated."

 

The BLM's most recent draft of rules seems to be lacking in several areas. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) wants to see the BLM require companies to disclose the chemicals used before fracking takes place, require a base water test of the area's water supply before fracking begins in order to tell in the future if fracking has occured, and they want the BLM to establish high standards for fracking well design and construction and prohibit the use of open air pits for toxic fracking waste disposal. 

 

Because frackings risk are so high, these desired requirements don't seem unfair. Some of the affected areas include the Washington DC water supplies of the Potomac and James Rivers. Fracking in this area would also affect residents of the  Shenandoah Valley area. In Colorado, the water supply for the Denver area (including Centennial, Columbine, Littleton, Aurora, Lakewood, Glendale, and more) in Park County could be targeted for fracking. The White River National Forest in Colorado, which provides water to Carbondale, Vail, Aspen, Gypsum, and Redstone, is also an area where there is proposed fracking.

 

These areas are high in population, so the need for stringent regulations is even greater. Millions of water supplies could be contaminated and without knowing the chemicals fracking companies use. Without knowing what's in our water, we may not be able to remove contaminants with a water filter and doctors may not know how to treat any ailments caused by unknown pollutants. 

 

With fracking becoming an increasingly popular topic, what are your thoughts on it? Share them in the comments! 

 

Is Your Yogurt Hurting the Environment?

The famous yogurt brand, Chobani, might be in some hot water. Recently, it was discovered that the huge factory in New York was pumping millions of gallons of water each day to keep up production. In addition to pumping so much, they never told any regulators about it.

Cows Grazing
Chobani never looked into getting water permits from the Susquehanna River Basin Commission before it started using such large quantities of water. The SRBC has to give express permissions to larger operations wishing to pump water from the river basin. Earlier this year, local residents complained that their drinking water wells were running dry.

Using nearly 1 million gallons of water per day, the SRBC requires businesses pumping more than 100,000 gallons per day to be reviewed. This would ensure the local water supply is not rendered useless, damaged, or causes stress on the environment.

Depending on how severe the SRBC deems the violation, Chobani may have to bay anywhere between $50 and $1000 per day it was in violation of the 100,000 gallon limit. Since massive pumping has been going on since 2007, the yogurt company could be doling out some serious cash.

A spokesperson for Chobani said, “As soon as we became aware that we were not in compiance, we notified [the SRBC] and began the permit application process immediately. We’ve been working extremely closely with [the SRBC] now for nearly 18 months on both developing the test plan to determine the aquifer capacity to supply the plant and surrounding communities, and obtaining the necessary permits.”

Chobani reported itself to the SRBC in August 2011 and the applications for permits filed in September 2011 are still pending. The company is still set to expand its operations in New York, as well as open up the world’s largest yogurt factory in Idaho.

*Read the full article here.

What the Frack is Fracking?

 Admit it. The first time you heard the term "fracking" you immediately pictured Yosemite Sam: 

Sounds like Yosemite Sam knew all along that fracking was bad!

In the natural gas business, fracking is slang for hydraulic fracturing.

What the rootin' tootin' heck is hydraulic fracturing? 

 In short, it's a way to get fuel out of rock by drilling deep into the earth and releasing natural gas by EXPLODING THE ROCKS IN THE SHALE LAYER. 

Boom
BOOM!

Are you picturing a full-on Michael Bay Transformers explosion? Oh. Well, it's not quite that awesome. There's no dynamite involved-just a mixture of water, sand, and toxic chemicals pumped underground with enough force to shatter shale rock. The process actually looks like this:

Shale_50833618_shale_extraction_diagram_464(image via the BBC)

 

So what's the big frackin' deal?

 Earthquakes. No, this is not a fangirl/film geek Michael Bay reference–turns out the fracking process can create small tremors. Man. Made. Earthquakes. Eleven in Ohio alone last year. Yeah, Ohio. (Not really an earthquake state.)

Methane Leaks. The process of extracting gas from shale also causes a good deal of methane leakage.  Methane leakage is problematic because a) stinky, b) major planet-warming greenhouse gas, and c) WATER! ON! FIRE!

 

Air Pollution. Those chemicals used in the fracking process? Turns out they're not so healthy to breathe… ok we're kidding they're totally poisonous. People who live near fracking sites are more likely to suffer from eye and skin irritation, headaches and nervous system damage, asthma, kidney and liver problems, and oh yeah-leukemia. 

Groundwater Contamination. How about a splash of benzine in your glass of water? No? Radioactive ice cubes? No?  Here in North Carolina (home of your favorite water filter company), our natural gas reserves are pretty frackin' close to our groundwater. That layer of rock between our water and our natural gas–it's not actually watertight. Which means those toxic fracking chemicals pumped deep underground could migrate upward and contaminate our water. The water we use for drinking, bathing, cooking, and growing food.

Say it with me: FREAKIN FRACKIN RACKAFRACKIN RASSAFRASSIN HAMMER HEADED HALIBUTS.

Waste. Today, nearly one billion people don't have access to clean water, while fracking injects trillions (repeat–trillions) of gallons of (now poisonous) fresh water in. To. The. Ground. 

Makes you want to go Megatron on somebody, right?

The Good News. Is there any? You bet your Shia LaBeouff there is. All across the country communities have banned fracking in response to grassroots groups committed to clean water.  A little education and a lot of passion go along way! Says activist Sandra Steingrabbler, "[My kids] are made of water. They are made of the food that is grown in the county that I live in. And they are made of air. We inhale a pint of atmosphere with every breath we take… And when you poison these things, you poison us."

 

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GE unleashes the URT system to recycle fridges

RAD logo

What’s 40-feet tall and can devour 150,000 refrigerators a year? The new GE UNTHA Recycling Technology (URT) system. According to reports from GE The URT reduces landfill waste by 85% and allows them to recover around 95% of the insulating foam used in their fridges. The URT was designed as part of GE’s participation in the EPA’s Responsible Appliance Disposal program (RAD). Instead of throwing out those clunky old fridges and having them take up space in a landfill, GE is reusing the parts to make brand new appliances.

I love the idea that steps are being taken to recycle appliances, unfortunately the service is only available in a few states right now. I also think it would be really cool to see the URT system in action. While some components must be removed prior to the refrigerator being fed into the URT, it would still be a lot of fun to see an appliance broken down into bits and pieces in this machine.

URT System

FridgeFilters Kanteen Giveaway : One bottle at a time


The Klean Kanteen Reflect bottle is great! I love my Klean Kanteen and I know a lot of you are interested in getting one as well. We will continue to give away a free bottle with every 100 likes, but I thought I would let you know if you wanted to get your’s today we are offering 50% off with the coupon code FBKANTEEN

To enter the drawing for a free Klean Kanteen Reflect 27-ounce bottle all you have to do is like our page at www.facebook.com/fridgefilters. We are giving away a Klean Kanteen to a randomly selected fan of our Facebook page every time we get 100 new “likes”.

Why are we giving away Klean Kanteens? We feel that throwing out all those single-use plastic bottles just doesn’t make sense. Instead of using a plastic PET bottle you can save money by switching to a reusable bottle like the Klean Kanteen Reflect.

Together we can make a difference one bottle at a time!


The problem with the old way: Each year in the US alone we buy 29 billion single serve bottles of water and more than half of those bottles will not be recycled. To make things worse, plastic bottles can leach harmful chemicals into your drinking water.

A better future with the new way: A reusable bottle makes it easy to be safe and healthy while saving money and reducing plastic waste. The Klean Kanteen Reflect bottle is 100% plastic-free and comes with a stylish bamboo lid. Klean Kanteen products are made from food grade stainless steel and are 100% BPA-free. The Reflect Bottle is the perfect way to take clean filtered water with you everywhere you go.

A semester of clean water

Backpack, check. iPod, check. Meal plan…maybe, what’s the cafeteria like? Sound familiar? Before you head back to school this Fall make sure you add one more item to your list, a water pitcher. Drinking plenty of water helps you stay healthy and alert. A recent study by researchers at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City that monitored college students found that students who showed mild signs of dehydration also reported they felt less energetic and focused.

Brita Classic Water Pitcher

Drinking water is essential for an active and healthy lifestyle, but how do you make sure to drink enough water every day? One thing that really helps is to make sure you have easy access to clean drinking water. Those old pipes in your dorm may not deliver the best water, but with a Brita Pitcher you can filter out the contaminants and have great tasting water to drink at any time.

Bottled water is expensive and has a negative impact on the planet, but unfiltered tap water often has an unpleasant taste or smell. Brita filters remove bad taste and odor along with lead and other impurities to give you cleaner, better tasting drinking water. Using a Brita Pitcher with a built in water filter is the ideal way to stay hydrated on campus. Be good to your body, drink lots of water!

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