At HolaTomorrow we try to motivate and inspire others to make small decisions every day for a more sustainable world. Obviously, we know that large-scale political decisions are urgently needed. But if each of us changed one thing per day no matter how small it may appear but changed it permanently, it could have a great impact.
For me, a great example of that is drinking water. Studies estimate that around the globe 1 million plastic bottles are purchased per minute. That’s 1.5 billion bottles a day! Crazy. It takes a lot of energy to create them, it produces a lot of carbon emissions to ship them, and of course, it’s a huge issue to dispose of them.
Today I want to tell you how we managed to have clean and great-tasting drinking water at home in Barcelona, and in a very sustainable and socially responsible way.
Tap water in Barcelona – lots of lime and taste of chlorine
Tap water in almost every neighborhood in Barcelona, apart from a lot of lime, has a tremendous taste of chlorine even though it’s perfectly healthy to drink. Years ago we bought 5 / 8L plastic water canisters three or four times per week, plus small bottles on the go or for travel. We started to replace the small bottles with steel bottles that we filled from home before leaving. But where to get good-tasting, lime-free water?
We first tested a Brita type pitcher with a filter. In the beginning, it seemed practical and the taste of the water was not bad but the quality fluctuated a lot. When the cartridge was new it filtered very well, but every week the taste of the water got a little worse. It also filtered the water very slowly so it was very inconvenient if you wanted to take it with you or had visitors at home.
Then we learned that these pitchers are not effective for removing excess minerals (like lime) or heavy metals. And since each cartridge is out of plastic, a lot of waste is produced in the end, which is exactly what we wanted to avoid.
Then we tested a reverse osmosis system. Increasingly they are used in restaurants in the city and despite the installation we decided on a system thinking that it would be a good option. We went to the hardware store, bought the model that was recommended to us and a friend helped us to install it below the kitchen sink. The water was very soft and the flavor was good.
But after a few months, we noticed that the water bills were suddenly very high. We were not aware that standard osmosis systems (some on the market are better but have a very high price) only return between 5 and 15% of the water pushed through it. In other words, for each liter of drinking water, the system needs a large quantity of water. And that certainly was not very sustainable, apart from that there was again the problem of plastic cartridges and it did not seem a very “green” option in the end.
A filter out of clay – a traditional and inexpensive way to filter water
Through Instagram, I finally found out about a “new” thing that caught my attention. A 100% recyclable clay filter (like a flower pot) in a very cute multi-colored enamel container with a small tap. No plastics, clean, odorless water, and a fairly reasonable investment. The Ecofilter seemed like the perfect solution! I contacted them through Instagram and learned that the company originally came from Guatemala where the Ecofilters are still produced. Ariana and her partner Guillem import them from there and sell them to all European countries.
We bought the small Ecofilter (5L) first and we loved it. It was really as easy as they promised and after a year of using it every day, we opted for the large version (20L) to never run out of drinking water.
I did a short interview with them and I encourage you to visit their website www.ecofiltroeurope.com. If you have more questions they will be happy to help you.
HT: Can you explain what the Ecofilter is and how it works?
The Ecofilter is basically a 100% natural water filter. The filter unit is composed of three natural materials that are: clay, sawdust, and colloidal silver.
The clay creates microscopic channels within the inner walls of the filter unit and traps all contaminants in the water, including solids, bacteria, and parasites. Sawdust is converted to activated charcoal during the process, and this removes all bad odor, taste and turbidity from the water regardless of its origin (stream, river, well, lagoon or lake). Colloidal silver is impregnated on the surface of the ceramic filter after it is sewn in the furnace. It is a bactericide used worldwide to purify water and has no side effects. It works as a second protective layer to neutralize contaminants. And these three materials together form the Ecofilter filtration system.
HT: Is it a new technology?
No. During the history of the world, there have been similar types of filters based on clay or stones since they imitate the filtering process of a river. But today, you could say that it is one of the few filters that are 100% natural and long-lasting.
HT: Where are the filters produced and how? Is it a fair and sustainable production?
The creation of the Ecofiltro emerged in the 1980s in Guatemala, Central America, when the Guatemalan scientist Dr. Fernando Mazariegos, who was working on a project for the Inter-American Development Bank, accepted the challenge of creating a way to purify water that was effective, ecological and economic. The initial idea was to be able to give the indigenous population a sustainable way to purify the little source of water they had since the number one cause of death in Guatemala, apart from crime, is the lack of drinking water, which creates intestinal problems and chronic malnutrition.
But seeing that the water problem was not exclusive to indigenous people of Guatemala, but had already begun to be a problem on an international level due to the large amount of contamination, he decided to expand and bring Ecofiltro to the entire world. And yes, it is a fair and sustainable production, since the central factory of Ecofiltro has a production with a minimized environmental impact, with solar panels, natural materials among others. It promotes local work and employs more than 70 people, thus empowering the country’s indigenous populations.
HT: How did it occur to you to import this idea to Europe?
I worked for almost four years at Ecofiltro Guatemala before returning to Europe. And I must say that I have never worked with such passion in my life. Ecofiltro is such an incredible project. It has a very important environmental and social impact in the countries where it is produced and where it can be purchased. It covers, as mentioned previously, a need that exists anywhere in the world since water is and gives life, and if we do not have access to clean water, we cannot enjoy a healthy life.
Therefore, my partner Guillem and I, who live in Barcelona, realized that it’s the perfect solution to improve water quality everywhere — not only in Barcelona but throughout Europe. And so, during a trip to Guatemala, after returning to the Ecofiltro factory, we decided that it was a good time to import the Ecofiltros to Europe. In fact, it has been very well received because most Europeans are very aware of protecting the environment.
HT: Is the water you produce healthy? What about the flavor?
Yes, because it removes the majority of contaminants from the water, but leaves the water very healthy by maintaining the necessary minerals. And the fact that it even removes lime and chlorine from the water, present in the waters that reach most homes in Europe, leaves a very natural and neutral flavor, which is what we would expect from water.
HT Is the quality of the filtered water good, even for babies and children?
Yes, as it is a natural filter, the only thing it does is clean the water, removing most of the waste that it can carry. In the end, we obtain a purer water than what we introduce. In fact, if you go to the “Effectiveness” section on our website, you will see the analysis of different laboratories, the last one in Barcelona, which tells us that the filter reduces the amount of impurities in the water without adding anything.
HT: How long does the filter work?
The filter unit has a useful life of approximately 2 years, then it is necessary to replace only the filter unit, maintaining the rest of the components of the Ecofiltro.
HT: Where can you buy the Ecofiltro?
Through us throughout Europe, then there is Ecofiltro throughout Latin America, the USA, some countries in Africa and Asia (in these countries they have changed the name to other brands, but have acquired the Ecofiltro technology invented in the Ecofiltro factory in Guatemala).
HT: Thank you very much, Ariana!
Disclaimer: We didn’t get paid for this article and purchased the Ecofilter ourselves.
VERA // Barcelona