Category Archives: Refrigerator Filters

Is my Fridge “Made in the USA” or China?

Made in the USA

Outsourced. It’s a term you’ve heard used more and more often over the last few years. Many companies have relocated manufacturing and customer service positions overseas, presumably to cut down on labor costs. At a time when unemployment rates are high many Americans are finding it hard to get a job making a decent wage. In an effort to counter the trend of outsourcing consumers are voting with their wallets and buying American made goods instead of foreign products as often as possible. This Consumer Report goes into detail about which appliances are still made in the U.S. and which companies have moved manufacturing operations overseas.

I wanted to share this article with you because it brings up a very important point about manufacturing. With Americans choosing to buy American Made some crafty corporations have created a new label, “Assembled in the USA” for their products. The parts are manufactured overseas and shipped here to be assembled. This is a mixed bag of results because on the one hand some jobs are remaining here, but others are still being outsourced. In the world of appliances companies such as Whirlpool (who owns the brands Maytag/Amana, KitchenAid, and Jenn-Air) manufacture their refrigerators, dishwashers, etc in the United States, but the replacement parts are made all over the world.

Why have so many manufacturing jobs been outsourced?

This means that when you buy a Whirlpool refrigerator you may see that it has been proudly “Made in the USA”, which is true. Many Whirlpool models are made in Ohio, but the replacement parts that you purchase for it may come from outside of the country. If you order a Whirlpool replacement water filter for your fridge you could get a part that was manufactured in Mexico or Taiwan. A Maytag refrigerator on the other hand could be made in the USA and have a water filter which is also made in the USA, like the UKF8001. Here is a list of the major brands and where their refrigerator filters are manufactured.

There is some good news on the horizon. While it will probably take some time to sort out the current unemployment issues and bring enough jobs back to the U.S. the process is already underway. According to this article from Area Development on reshoring, “American business executives are reconsidering their overseas operations and realizing that outsourcing may not be the best option.” The article discusses “reshoring”, which is the business equivalent of undoing the damage that outsourcing had on manufacturing jobs by bringing them back to Americans. CEO’s and business execs once thought of outsourcing as a cheaper way to compete with other companies, but now higher shipping and transportation costs combined with tax breaks and incentives are luring some manufacturers back to the U.S.

You’ve Got Mail

Thornton, CO

A resident of Thornton, Colorado, Chris works for Oracle America selling hardware and software. His work schedule allows him to work from home a couple days a week, but Chris tells me he very rarely drinks water directly from the tap. “The water is so bad coming from the city,” he explains, “it’s very hard water with lots of minerals in it”. Because of the poor water quality he relies on the filtered water dispenser on the fridge to get drinking water. He knows to replace his filter when the indicator light changes to red, but this time when the red light came on he had a decision to make.

Chris knew he needed to order some replacement filters for his refrigerator, but didn’t know how much longer his current fridge would hold up. He had ordered from fridgefilters.com before back in 2005 and wanted to order another case of 6 filters to get the bulk pricing and free shipping, but what if his fridge stopped working? So he sent an email to customer service and was “astounded that I got an email response in less than 5 minutes, literally. Two minutes later I had a response from a customer service manager” to explain fridgefilters.com returns and exchanges policy. Chris tells me he was amazed not only at how fast the response was, but also at how thorough the information was that he was provided, “it was almost over-explained” and the quick response “answered my question to a tee.” He was able to confidently place his order for 6 new water filters, knowing he could always return any filters he didn’t need if his current system stopped working.

You've Got Mail

When I asked him what brought him to our store he replies, “The website was great. I loved the side-by-side filter comparison chart that showed the best filter and the next step down.” When he first bought the fridge it came with the lower grade model from the manufacturer. After reading the filter comparison on the fridgefilters website he chose to go with the upgraded filter because it removed quite a few more contaminants. Now with his current refrigerator he only has to replace the filters about once a year. “You are one of the best companies out there selling online,” Chris jokes with me, “the only downside is only dealing with you once every 5 years”. I think that’s a problem we can all live with for now.

A huge thank you to Chris S. of Thornton, Colorado for taking the time from his busy day to speak with me.

Becky Powell on Lightsaber Duels and Raising Healthy Kids

Obiwan-darthmaul

She may never get to be Darth Vader when dueling lightsabers with her son, but a quick check of her twitter profile reveals that @OpheliaRising is still “pretty badass with a lightsaber”. When asked why she has to act out the role of Obi-Wan Kenobi she tells me it is because her daughter insists on always playing Padme while her son plays Anakin. Wait, she has lightsaber duels with her kids on the living room furniture? I wish my mom played Star Wars with me when I was growing up!

Becky Powell (the real world face behind @OpheliaRising on twitter and author of the blog “Alice in Motherland”) plays quite a few roles at home including: wife, mother, writer, star wars re-enacter, and (my personal favorite) fellow Tarheel. I had been following her on Twitter for a few months when I was asked to interview her for the fridgefilters blog. Since her Twitter account is one of my favorite follows I was really excited to have the opportunity to learn more about the real Becky Powell.

One of the things you need to know about Becky is that she is incredibly smart (I did mention she graduated from UNC right?) and puts a lot of effort into taking care of her children. Naturally we spent a lot of time talking about her family and how to raise happy, healthy kids. When she and her husband found out they were going to have their first child they agreed to try and make the healthiest choices possible. Becky set out to learn as much as she could about how to take care of her child, “I read books, ate all the right stuff” she explains and even switched to drinking only bottled water. At the time there were a lot of people saying that tap water wasn’t safe and her doctors were telling her to drink a lot of water.

According to Becky that is when she first started to think about the quality of the water she was drinking. Her family has always been very health conscious and so when her second child was born it was back to bottled water, because “it seemed like a healthy choice”. She had read up on Bisphenol A and knew to only buy plastics that were BPA free, but then she started following @fridgefilters on twitter. “I read on your blog that BPA Free is not the only toxin in plastics and the thing that really worried me is that they can leach estrogen disruptors”. Now she tries to use less plastic, but if you have ever had a baby you know that avoiding plastics is not an easy job.

“Have you ever been to a Babies ‘R Us? It’s like the evil baby stuff Wal Mart,” she tells me “they have everything for babies and so much of it is plastic.” To make matters worse for a young health conscious mother she explains they also have a “huge display of Nursery Water, which is steamed, distilled, boiled water with fluoride added.” Why put fluoride in water for babies for their formula when the babies teeth haven’t even emerged yet? Oh, and Nursery Water also comes in large plastic containers. Which reminds me, never mess with a mom, especially not an informed one.

So Becky and her husband stopped buying plastic water bottles and switched to tap water. Their refrigerator had a water dispenser with a filter so they started using only water from their fridge. What she did not do was remember to change the water filter in her refrigerator. Ironically, Becky explains to me that her husband works in heating and air and often has to remind homeowners to change their air filters. It is really easy to forget to change your fridge’s water filter, but you really can taste the difference. Becky found that out recently when she got a new water filter and “within a day I felt that our water tastes better. Now our kids are drinking a lot more water. Our kids don’t drink a lot of soda, they drink juices and things like that, but I used to have to flavor their water to get them to drink it…now they are okay with drinking it straight from the fridge”. The best part is that her whole family is no longer drinking from PET plastic bottles.

There are so many resources available now trying to tell you how to raise your kids and there is no way you can do them all. I asked Becky what her advice would be for other moms. Focus on the things you can control, “for me it is all about making incremental changes for me and my families health.” A very special thanks to Becky for taking the time to share her story with me today. You can follow her on Twitter @OpheliaRising and on her blog at “Alice in Motherland”.

A (Perfect?) Gift for Dad

Number-1-dad

This weekend I will take a day off from everything else to spend some time with my dad. We will sit down and have a meal together, talk about sports, the weather and how his business is doing. I will remember being a little kid and how my dad always looked so tall (I still think of him as tall, even though I have known grown up to be taller than my dad). This Sunday I will enjoy time well spent with my father, but…before I can even think that far ahead I have to figure out what in the world to get for him!

Shopping for my dad is never easy and my whole family has to struggle to find something that he wants that he didn’t already buy for himself. This year I got lucky. Earlier this year the neighborhood well at my parent’s house turned the water brown. To be fair, their water is not all that great to begin with, but brown is never a color you want to see coming out of your tap. The two filters that my dad has set up for the refrigerator and kitchen sink kept their drinking water clean, but the increased sediments in the water eventually clogged the filters. So I got my dad some replacement filters for Father’s Day!

Before you judge my dad’s gift think of it this way, for the same cost as dinner and a movie I gave him 6 months of clean drinking water. I know it may not be the most exciting gift, but I know it is one he will use and appreciate every time he gets a glass of water. Just in case you think your dad could use a filter or two this Father’s Day (or if you are a Dad and are shopping for filters) be sure to check out our special Facebook offer for 15% off your order this Father’s Day Weekend.

Goldilocks and the three bears revisited

Three bears stamp

We all know the story of Goldilocks and how she visited the home of the three bears while they were out. You probably heard how she tasted the porridge and tried the chairs, but did you know that she was also really thirsty?

First Goldilocks took a glass and filled it from the tap and it was good, but it was not quite cold enough. So she opened the fridge and saw a bottle of Aquafina. She knew the Aquafina bottle was nice and cold, but Goldilocks had read online about how chemicals can leach from PET plastic into the water. She also knew that over 20 billion plastic water bottles are thrown away in trash cans and landfills every year. So she took her glass and filled it from the the refrigerator’s water dispenser instead. When she tasted it she was pleasantly surprised because it was cold, tasted great, and safe to drink. You see, the filter inside the refrigerator was independently tested by the NSF so Goldilocks knew that the water she was drinking was safe.

Okay, maybe that is not how the story really goes, but the story of Goldilocks and the three bears is just a myth. A lot like these myths about drinking water from the NSF consumer information website. NSF (National Sanitation Foundation) International was founded in 1944 to provide public health and safety-related information to concerned consumers around the world.

NSF International performs independent testing of water filters to verify their contaminant reduction claims.

Here are the common myths about public drinking water from the NSF page, see if you know the truth about your water quality before you click the link to get the answers.

  • We have less water today than we did 100 years ago
  • Once you use water, it is gone
  • If there is lead in your water, it’s the fault of the water treatment plant
  • Using a home water treatment device will make tap water safer or healthier to drink
  • Bottled water is always safer than tap water
  • Water will purify itself, so we don’t need to worry about it

You may be surprised by some of the answers you find. If you know all the answers without checking the NSF page then you should pat yourself on the back and tell all your friends how smart you are!

A little history lesson

Drought on a shoreline

How much time do you spend each day thinking about where water comes from and where it goes? Probably not very much and I have to admit I often take it for granted too. Since I watched the Tapped documentary though I have had a bug in my brain about the drought of 2007. I grew up in Dekalb county, but had moved to Raleigh by 2007. A few years ago local communities were running dangerously low on water and still people were dragging their feet when it came to conservation. Back in Atlanta folks were hit pretty hard by the drought as well.

Nestle’s new Pure Life brand is being bottled from municipal sources meaning yet another high volume seller has joined Dasani and Aquafina re-bottling public water. Approximately 40% of bottled water is taken from municipal sources and with Nestle moving their Pure Life brand in that direction this percentage is likely to go up. This bothers me for a couple of reasons, public water systems are supported with our taxpayer dollars. This means that we are subsidizing the commercialization of our own water and then being charged hundreds of times more for that same water. So when you buy a bottle of Dasani, Aquafina, or Pure Life water you are essentially buying water that you already pay taxes on to get from your tap.

Which brings me to Atlanta back in 2007 when the shores of Lake Allatoona and the Chattahoochee River were dwindling from the drought. Meanwhile, as Thomas Wheatley pointed out, Coke was taking public water to bottle for their Dasani brand.

The Coca Cola company was doing what made the most sense and running business as usual to meet public demand. The irony is that had the city of Atlanta run out of water people would have been drinking the same water that used to flow from their taps, but they would have been paying as much as 2000 times more for it. Don’t you think it is time we stopped fueling the bottled water industry? Take control of your water and give up the bottle. You can filter your own tap water with a home filter and fill re-usable containers instead of buying bottled water. I have a built in filter in the fridge so I get most of my drinking water from there. How do you filter your water? I look forward to seeing your comments so we can share some ideas about how we can all make smarter decisions about our drinking water.

UC Berkeley vote may do away with bottled water sales on campus

Bottled water stash

As a part of this year’s ASUC voting at UC Berkeley students are asked to lend their support for Bill 94 to help UC Berkeley reach its waste reduction goals. The vote, which lasts from April 5th-7th, will determine the fate of bottled water sales on campus. Thanks to @MyWaterOurWater for sharing the Daily Clog post about the vote.

I wanted to find out more about the ASUC voting so I looked up the 2011 UC Berkeley voters guide to see what Bill 94 was all about and have included it below in it’s entirety.

Bill 94 The End the Sale of Bottled Water Initiative

“UC Berkeley currently has a goal to reach 75% waste diversion by 2012 and zero-waste by 2020. Barring emergency situations, do you support the respectful request for

(1) the renogotiation of any existing campus contracts to phase out the purchase, sale, and distribution of bottled water
(2) for increased campus access to public water including hydration stations and better maintenance of drinking fountains, in order to aid the realization of the aforementioned waste-reduction goals?”

Given what we know about plastic pollution and the negative effect that bottled water has on the environment, especially in the ocean, it is great to see more students get involved with our future. Bottled water is not sustainable, especially when you consider that only 10% of singe-use water bottles will be recycled. The second point in Bill 94 promotes better maintenance and more availability of hydration stations on campus so students don’t have to buy bottled water and can carry re-usable canteens instead. This is the perfect solution. Nobody likes to pay the high premium on bottled water so give them a viable alternative.

Your home has a hydration station already, your refrigerator. Your fridge is probably where you go when you are thirsty so be sure to keep it stocked with plenty of water, just not the bottled kind please. Use a water pitcher or dispenser to fill a re-usable bottle or glass and drink responsibly. If you have a newer refrigerator it may already have a water filter built-in. You can put Bill 94 to use in your home and help reduce your waste too.

Image Source: Klearchos Kapoutsis under Creative Commons

Dolphins ditch plastic bottles

Klean kanteen
Are you smarter than an 8th grader? I found this story on the Santa Cruz Sentinel site about a school that is ditching plastic water bottles in favor of reusable canteens. At Scotts Valley Middle School in California the students have picked up on a bright idea for the future, stop drinking from plastic water bottles. It can all be summed up in the message eighth-grader Hanna shared at a presentation for other students, “Water bottle trash is out of control. About 90 percent of the garbage in the ocean is plastic. Most of the garbage on the beach is plastic.” If you already knew that than you are at least as smart as Hanna when it comes to plastic pollution.

The class project to promote reusable canteens was put together by 3rd year teacher Brendan Dilloughery and received a $6,000 grant for the school from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. So not only are the students at Scotts Valley Middle School learning about great ways to help the environment they are also learning there is a financial benefit to it as well. For the rest of us who won’t be receiving a $6,000 grant to stop using plastic water bottles there is still a direct reward to our wallet by giving up bottled water. Bottled water is far more expensive than tap water. Fill a reusable bottle, like this stainless steel bottle from Klean Kanteen, with water taken from your home refrigerator. The water will already be nice and cold and costs far less than even the cheapest brand of bottled water on the market.

I am pretty sure that the ocean bound namesakes of the Scotts Valley Middle School Dolphins would be proud of the students for their contribution to stopping plastic pollution.

10 Ways to Protect Groundwater

Small stream in woods

April Fools Day is wrapping up and I hope you were all able to enjoy a good joke or prank today, hopefully not at your own expense either. Even on a fun day like April 1st it is important to think about some serious topics too. I found a great bulletin from Groundwater.org that lists their top ten ways to protect groundwater. I have copied the list into the post for you to check it out.

I think the thing that surprises me the most is how simple it can be to make a difference. Things like taking shorter showers and only running the washing machine or dishwasher when they have a full load are easy and actually will save you money too. My favorite point on the list has to be keeping a pitcher of water in your fridge. One of the big attractions to bottled water is how easy it is to just open the fridge and grab some water to drink. I know because I feel the same draw towards convenience, but bottled water is really bad for the environment and carries a higher price tag as well. Try filling a pitcher with water and storing that in the fridge so that when you need a quick sip you can quickly poor into a glass or a re-usable bottle instead. If your refrigerator has a water filter just fill the glass or bottle from your dispenser. If you don’t have a water filter you can get a pitcher that has a built-in filter. When you refill from that pitcher you will be getting cool, clean, and delicious water straight from your fridge and you will be saving money too.

Here is the full list from groundwater.org of how we can all help protect and conserve groundwater. Each day we can make good choices, like using less water and saying no to single-use plastic bottles.

  1. Reduce household chemical use and dispose of remaining chemicals by taking them to a hazardous waste collection site.
  2. Take used motor oil to a recycling center.
  3. Limit the amount of fertilizer used on plants.
  4. Take short showers.
  5. Shut water off while brushing teeth and shaving.
  6. Run full loads of dishes and laundry.
  7. Check for leaky faucets and have them fixed.
  8. Water plants only when necessary.
  9. Keep a pitcher of drinking water in the refrigerator.
  10. Get involved in water education.

Your link to safer water

I have talked in great detail about the various contaminants that end up in bottled water and the tap water that comes from your local water utility. The best way to reduce your exposure to impurities in your water is by using a home water filter system. Many homeowners already have a water filter system for their refrigerator’s ice and water dispenser. A refrigerator water filter is the easiest way to filter water and should be replaced about every 6 months to maintain optimal filtration. If you do not have a filter system in place already, a great place to start is by finding out what is in your water.

The Environmental Working Group has compiled reports from water utilities across the country to give you easy access to your water quality report. Once you know what contaminants are present in your water you can make a better decision about what type of water filter to use in your home. I have attached my own water report as an example. As you can see the water is tested regularly and certain chemicals are consistently tested higher than health guidelines, but are not considered to be over the legal limit. So my water utility is not breaking the law, but my water is still unsafe to drink.

Because of this I do not drink any water from the tap in my apartment unless it has been filtered first. I use a Brita faucet filter that was easily attached to the kitchen sink to filter water for drinks and cooking. It works great and took about 5 minutes to set up.

Raleigh water report

There are many ways to filter the water that enters your home and reduce the contaminants in it. Whatever kind of water filter you choose just make sure that it has been certified by the NSF, an independent organization that tests filters to make sure their filtration claims are accurate. Once you have a water filter that reduces impurities in your water you will probably notice that it tastes better too! A sweet bonus.