Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Brita filter and #5 recycling update, NYC edition

Fourteen months ago, Brita USA joined a program called Gimme 5 to recycle its filters, thanks in part to a grassroots campaign led by Beth Terry of Fake Plastic Fish. This is a take-back program for spent Brita filters as well as #5 plastics -such as yogurt cups and take-out containers- sponsored by Brita (naturally), Stoneyfield Organic and Tom's of Maine, in partnership with Preserve, the company that recycles the plastic and turns it into new products. One other company is a big partner: Whole Foods. You can either mail your used filters to Preserve, or drop them off at participating Whole Foods stores.

I am so glad the program was started. To me it is a sign companies are starting to take responsibility for the products they manufacture, instead of leaving it all to the consumer and local governments. I'm rooting for Gimme 5's success, and wish more people knew about it. I haven't purchased a Brita filter for a while (since I drink mostly tap)- is Gimme 5 featured prominently on the package? Have you seen posters or advertising for Gimme 5? I haven't- and that worries me.

Additionally, a friend contacted me a couple weeks ago and asked if the program was in trouble- she tried to drop off a filter at a New York City Whole Foods and was told by an employee that they 'don't take them anymore'. Alarming! Thankfully, this is not the case. I reached out to every Whole Foods store in NYC and heard back: Gimme 5 is still going. Going strong? That I don't know- I hope so! Here is what I got back from NYC Whole Foods store managers:

Columbus Circle: "We do participate in the Gimme 5 program, and also we recycle the Brita filters in the Gimme 5 bins. The bin is located by our Whole Body department. Any questions please ask."

Tribeca: "We are extremely happy to say we accept #5 plastics!!! We have TWO collection bins located in our wonderful Tribeca store, one by our Local registers on the far right and one in the café upstairs by the elevator. We love this program and we are very happy to promote it. If you have any questions please do not hesitate to ask. Thank you and have a wonderful day."

Bowery: "I'm happy to share with you that our store does in fact participate in this wonderful program. All you need to do is bring in your #5 plastics to the Customer Service booth and our Team Members will put the items in the Gimme 5 bin, which we keep behind the booth. We do this to avoid co mingling and to ensure that only #5 plastics are getting into this bin, so it can properly be sent out. And to further answer your question, you can bring in Brita filters as well. ANY #5 plastic!"

Union Square: "Thanks for your inquiry, we absolutely do recycle your spent filter just wrap it up in a plastic a plastic bag ( that Preserve will recycle). Thanks for the compliment we definitely do take pride in being the only Company that has this program."

Chelsea: "Our Gimme 5 recycling receptacle can be found at customer service. We accept anything that is #5 and Brita Filters in the Gimme 5 program."

I'm stoked that so many Whole Foods stores are taking part! Especially since right now, this is one of the only ways for New Yorkers to recycle #5 plastics, including Brita filters. I'll have a filter of my own to recycle in a month or so. I drink mostly tap, but a few weeks ago there was a water main break in my neighborhood resulting in rusty water coming out of our faucets for the better part of a day. I started using my roommate's Brita pitcher. The water is back to normal now, but still-- I'm glad we have the filter.

Have YOU recycled with Gimme 5? How was your experience?


The Green Cat said...

Regarding the Columbus Circle store: The Gimme5 bin used to be located at the front of the store by the other recycling bins and the information desk. It is now located in the back of the store near the elevators. I think it's somewhat hidden and if you don't know it's there, you won't find it. Additionally, the Gimme5 bins do not have anything on them about collecting Brita filters. Again, if you don't already know they can be recycled there, there's nothing to tell you about the program.

I'm glad you got such positive response from the stores but I wish the program were better-promoted in the stores.

Lisa Sharp said...

I've recycled them at Whole Foods in Plano, Texas. Super easy and glad to not have to save them for hazardous waste day.