Stefani water filters: green, beautiful and practical

Everyone wants clean drinking water but bottled water is having a huge impact on the environment. It's time for a more earth-friendly way to purify our water. Plastic is a problem Each year an estimated 1.5 million tons of plastic is manufactured for bottled water and according to the EPA much of it ends up in landfill. While water filters are an excellent alternative you have to choose carefully. Some systems are too costly while others only filter out certain compounds. Charcoal filters in many counter top systems are usually not recyclable so most end up in the landfill along with the plastic bottles. There is also some concern about chemicals from the plastic filters leaching chemicals into the water. A greener option may be ceramic water filters. They've been used around the world for many years; the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders have been using ceramic filters to bring safe water to marginalized communities since 1988. The Stefani water purifier is a popular brand that that uses only natural materials like colloidal silver, activated charcoal made from coconut shells. These sustainable filters are produced by Ceramica Stefani at their factory in Jaboticabal, Brazil. Four brothers -- all engineers -- opened their factory in 1947 and over the years, they've perfected their system, combining traditional methods with new technology. Terra Cotta solutions Each purifier is handmade by artisans using five kinds of clay. Two chambers rest on top of one another to create a three-part system of filtering, dechlorinating and sterilizing. Filtering starts at the top passing through two microporous filters that remove solid impurities up to 0.5 microns along with harmful chemicals, odours and bacteria. Step two and three, dechlorinating and sterilizing, take place in the lower chamber which is coated with colloidal silver that reduces fungus, bacteria and microorganisms. An added bonus of the system is the cooling properties of the terra cotta that keep the water at 10 to 15 degrees lower than room temperature. Stefani products have been sold for years in Australia, South America, Africa and England. But, they've only able in the U.S. for two years and in Canada for a few months. Indra Dosanjh, president of LifeSpices, launched Stefani at Toronto's Green Living Show this past spring. A chance meeting But if it hadn't have been for a chance meeting, the Brazilian water purifier may have never made it this far north. "My family is from Uganda and I was back home for a visit. I was staying with friends and saw their water filter. The concept of using clay as a water filter has been around for a long time in a lot of cultures like India and Africa. But this one also had a great look and a great design. I fell in love with it even before I understood the technology behind it. When I found out about the long lasting filter, I just had to find the company that designed it," recalled Dosanjh. Dosanjh eventually ended up in Brazil and after a three day tour she was convinced she had found a product that fit with her company. She started up StefaniAqua and never looked back. "I've been an artist my whole life and I started LifeSpices to include those world products that are beautiful and ‘add a little spice in our life.' I was first struck by Stefani's beauty but it's also so practical. It's affordable, portable and easy to use," said Dosanjh. Three different choices LifeSpices sells three different styles at their online market. The Traditional model comes in a six, eight or 10 litre size. The curvy Linea model comes in either six or eight litres. With its plastic base and lid, the lighter Pure Design model is the perfect choice for the cottage. Set-up takes about half an hour but you need to be patient since the terra cotta needs to be conditioned by flushing out the water for the first few days. After that you'll be guaranteed pure, fresh water without adding anything to the landfill. You can see the Stephani water filter at the Toronto Green Living Show from April 25 to 27.