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Bottlemania: Big Business, Local Springs, and the Battle Over America's Drinking Water

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Second only to soda, bottled water is on the verge of becoming the most popular beverage in the country. The brands have become so ubiquitous that we're hardly conscious that Poland Spring and Evian were once real springs, bubbling in remote corners of Maine and France. Only now, with the water industry trading in the billions of dollars, have we begun to question what it Second only to soda, bottled water is on the verge of becoming the most popular beverage in the country. The brands have become so ubiquitous that we're hardly conscious that Poland Spring and Evian were once real springs, bubbling in remote corners of Maine and France. Only now, with the water industry trading in the billions of dollars, have we begun to question what it is we're drinking. In this intelligent, accomplished work of narrative journalism, Elizabeth Royte does for water what Michael Pollan did for food: she finds the people, machines, economies, and cultural trends that bring it from distant aquifers to our supermarkets. Along the way, she investigates the questions we must inevitably answer. Who owns our water? How much should we drink? Should we have to pay for it? Is tap safe water safe to drink? And if so, how many chemicals are dumped in to make it potable? What happens to all those plastic bottles we carry around as predictably as cell phones? And of course, what's better: tap water or bottled?


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Second only to soda, bottled water is on the verge of becoming the most popular beverage in the country. The brands have become so ubiquitous that we're hardly conscious that Poland Spring and Evian were once real springs, bubbling in remote corners of Maine and France. Only now, with the water industry trading in the billions of dollars, have we begun to question what it Second only to soda, bottled water is on the verge of becoming the most popular beverage in the country. The brands have become so ubiquitous that we're hardly conscious that Poland Spring and Evian were once real springs, bubbling in remote corners of Maine and France. Only now, with the water industry trading in the billions of dollars, have we begun to question what it is we're drinking. In this intelligent, accomplished work of narrative journalism, Elizabeth Royte does for water what Michael Pollan did for food: she finds the people, machines, economies, and cultural trends that bring it from distant aquifers to our supermarkets. Along the way, she investigates the questions we must inevitably answer. Who owns our water? How much should we drink? Should we have to pay for it? Is tap safe water safe to drink? And if so, how many chemicals are dumped in to make it potable? What happens to all those plastic bottles we carry around as predictably as cell phones? And of course, what's better: tap water or bottled?

30 review for Bottlemania: Big Business, Local Springs, and the Battle Over America's Drinking Water

  1. 4 out of 5

    Petra X's driving in a Mustang GT to Key West

    Bottlemania is a fascinating expose of what ultimately, globally threatens everyone everywere if it is accepted that people will drink bottled water (which is privately-owned and supported by profits) so its unnecessary for governments to spend money on keeping tap water drinking-water pure for the general public. There was never a need for bottled water in the West. This was an invented industry quite cynically developed by Nestle among others back in the 80s. They invented a scientific concept Bottlemania is a fascinating expose of what ultimately, globally threatens everyone everywere if it is accepted that people will drink bottled water (which is privately-owned and supported by profits) so its unnecessary for governments to spend money on keeping tap water drinking-water pure for the general public. There was never a need for bottled water in the West. This was an invented industry quite cynically developed by Nestle among others back in the 80s. They invented a scientific concept to boost sales, that we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. Try telling that to people in countries where they have to carry water back to the home, or where water isn't pure, or to nomads where water is to be rationed. They aren't all prostrate with dehydration and dying young! Not only did this concept of the absolute necessity of 8 glasses of water become entrenched in health and body lore, people, against all scientific evidence and commonsense fell for the 'water' bit hook, line and sinker. It couldn't be tea, coffee, fruit, vegetables, milk or anything else. Nope, they weren't to be counted, it had to be water. The body extracts water from anything that contains it and doesn't differentiate between that and 'just water'. What a pr winner that concept was. (view spoiler)[For millenia people survived without having it available at every moment. People managed to get from home to work without a draught of aqua. Many never drank water all day but made do with cups of tea, coffee, juice, a glass of wine at lunchtime and something with a better flavour called a 'health drink' after a session at the gym. (view spoiler)[Look at movies from the early eighties and there will be two big differences: no one is carrying bottles of water and none of the women have demi-grapefruits implanted in their chests as this was before the invention of safe silicon implants. But that's another story, of which just three words, Farrah Fawcett Majors. (hide spoiler)] (hide spoiler)] Not that the bottled water you get is necessarily pure. Dasani, owned by Cocoa Cola, and other 'purified' waters are no safer or better than what comes out of our tap (if you live in the first world). The reason for this is that Dasani comes out of a tap and is bottled. It isn't spring water or from an artesian well, just tap water. If it was Perrier or San Pellegrino (my personal favourite) you have the benefit of taste and minerals, although you probably already get the minerals from another source. What bottled water is, is the new signifier of cool. Walking around with one, especially in exercise clothes show you are on-trend, and into Health. Try it with a towel around your neck and some lycra cycling shorts. Everyone will think you've just been to the gym and feel guilty they haven't. Bottled water is the new cigarette. Something to hold and fiddle with. A sip can fill in an awkward pause of the conversation. You can place it in front of you and move it around to show you are thinking deeply. And when you've had enough, you can signal you are going by putting it in your bag. Is all this worth money? Maybe, but be aware that the whole thing was a marketing campaign and nothing at all to do with health and read the book. It's tremendously enlighting, as are all the books Elizabeth Royte writes. 100% rewritten 12 Jan 2016

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kirsten

    This book covers a wide variety of topics including land/water rights (AKA who owns the land vs who owns the water and if they have the right to said water), BPA and other chemicals in the water, EPA vs. FDA standards (EPA for tap water, FDA for bottled), the image that bottled water conveys, and the author's personal concerns about what is best for her family. In my opinion, this book is about the ongoing battle in the U.S. between privatization and public services. Tap water has been shown to b This book covers a wide variety of topics including land/water rights (AKA who owns the land vs who owns the water and if they have the right to said water), BPA and other chemicals in the water, EPA vs. FDA standards (EPA for tap water, FDA for bottled), the image that bottled water conveys, and the author's personal concerns about what is best for her family. In my opinion, this book is about the ongoing battle in the U.S. between privatization and public services. Tap water has been shown to be clean, safe, and reliable, and much more environmentally friendly than pumping concentrated amounts of water from an area and trucking it all over the nation and globe. Spring waters may have claims that their sources are pure, and that may be so, but by trucking water from one end of the Earth to the other, they negate that factor...what happens to one part of an ecosystem will eventually affect the rest of said ecosystem. It's just a matter of time. As climates change, many spring sources may find that the ecosystem studies they did ten years ago are no long valid as precipitation patterns and consumption change over time. Bottled water actually turned out to have MORE contaminants than tap water. This makes sense because geologic variations will cause even spring water to have naturally occurring contaminants in it. This is why tap water in different places tastes different, it all depends on the rocks that surround the water. Pepsi and Coke simply purify tap water. I may dislike those corporations, but at least they're honest about their sources and the fact the purify the water and add their own stuff. Many spring water companies get their water from boreholes, not springs themselves but label it spring water. The author finds that her Brita water filter really isn't doing anything because her tap water is safe (though I have a PUR filter at my cabin due to lead pipes), and points out that it's not the city water supplies but often the pipes in our houses that are the source of contaminants. Landlords/homeowners are responsible for those pipes, cities, counties, etc have no control over it. They just set the standards for how plumbing and fixtures are installed, but if your house is old, you're SOL. In the end, I feel that bottled water just isn't worth it. The cost of all that plastic, which the author points out only has about a 15% recovery rate, the energy and waste that goes into bottling and shipping the water is immense. I believe that bottled water is useful for emergencies where potable water becomes unavailable, but as a whole, we need to have deposit taxes, bottled water tax, etc to reduce consumption. We need to shift the burden of the waste from taxpayers to corporations who produce the goods, a tactic that usually results in creative solutions to lower waste. If everyone starts drinking bottled water, city water works will no longer have sufficient funds to maintain good drinking water on such a scale, and lower income people will have to either drink less purified water, or buy bottled water. Given the high cost of bottled water, that would be a burden many could not bear. Additionally, we should consider the cost at which water is sold. The average household doesn't use a lot of water, but if prices went up, it would give greater incentive to shut off the tap when not in use, get low flow toilets and showers, and conserve. It would make those investments pay off pretty quickly. Even more important is industrial and agricultural use of water. They can get water so cheaply that they can afford to waste it. This isn't discussed at length in the book, but there are much more efficient irrigation and water recycling systems systems out there which would become worth the investment as well if we subsidized their purchase instead of the water they use. Water is a precious resource, and will probably become the most limiting resource as we move forward in time as the climate and populations change. We need to be smart and protect our water sources instead of paying to clean them up and ship them away. Historically people settled near sources of water, the water did not come to them. In the future that will become VERY important as the rains change and we empty aquifers. Overall a good book, just a little disjointed. If the story had flowed more smoothly and everything had been a little better connected together I would have given it 5 stars, so essentially this is a 4 1/2 star rating.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mitzi Moore

    I was expecting something a bit different when I read this. It's an expose of how Big Food (Nestle, to be specific) obtains, markets, distributes, and sells bottled water when the vast majority of Americans live in areas where their FREE tap water is just as high quality as what they are buying. The investigative details sometimes get a little too specific (thus, boring), but the overall point of the book is eye-opening. I was expecting something a bit different when I read this. It's an expose of how Big Food (Nestle, to be specific) obtains, markets, distributes, and sells bottled water when the vast majority of Americans live in areas where their FREE tap water is just as high quality as what they are buying. The investigative details sometimes get a little too specific (thus, boring), but the overall point of the book is eye-opening.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Marieke

    Water issues are even more complex than i had thought. In some ways, i felt like this piece of non-fiction is an illustration of how dystopian novels don't really need to depict the near future. We are living in a dystopia right now--a time when pretty much everything is out of whack and our "solutions" are really just feeble attempts to keep our heads above water (no pun intended) and the consequences of our decisions and actions will likely only further distend the delicate balance: government Water issues are even more complex than i had thought. In some ways, i felt like this piece of non-fiction is an illustration of how dystopian novels don't really need to depict the near future. We are living in a dystopia right now--a time when pretty much everything is out of whack and our "solutions" are really just feeble attempts to keep our heads above water (no pun intended) and the consequences of our decisions and actions will likely only further distend the delicate balance: government budgets are insufficient to adequately maintain sewer and water systems, yet extreme weather that is becoming the new norm puts even more stress on these systems (ruptured water mains, sinkholes, floods washing pollutants into the water supply); extreme weather is caused in part by changing natural water supplies, in which water-bottling corporations like Nestle have a role--drilling for ground water affects underground acquifers, which affects surface water, which affects our climate AND our water supply; two types of water bottling is occurring--water from "pure" sources and water from public sources and the water from public sources (Coke's Disani and Pepsi's Acquafina) is put through amazing filtration and purification processes, making them safer and better than water like Evian--but why does public water that goes to your tap need so much filtering in order to be bottled and shouldn't the government be doing that? out of whack. And this is not to mention the stress that bottled water puts on the planet in other ways--plastic bottles require petroleum; plastic bottles need to be transported, which requires gasoline; plastic bottles must be disposed of--and who should bear the cost of that? the corporations or local governments? And then we have the little guy (the citizen) pitted against the big guy (the corporation)--one of the most fascinating parts of Royte's book was her portrayal of one Maine town grappling with the pros and cons of giving water rights to a giant corporation. Royte did an exceptional of job of showing how complex these issues are and how there are no easy answers, even for the person at home or on the road who just wants a drink of water. This book focused primarily on the situation in the U.S. but now i want to find out more about multi-national water companies versus local municipalities abroad in the developing world...Royte alluded to the situation in India and now i need to know more.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Oriana

    While I didn't love this as much as Garbage Land, it hasn't diminished my love for Elizabeth Royte any. She has a fantastic voice, which makes anything she discusses clear and interesting, whether it's complex scientific research, myriad statistics, small-town political drama, or the spins and posturing of multinational corporations. I definitely learned a lot from this book, and so in lieu of a long review, I'd like to share some of her ideas and "fun" facts. * The outrageous success of bottled While I didn't love this as much as Garbage Land, it hasn't diminished my love for Elizabeth Royte any. She has a fantastic voice, which makes anything she discusses clear and interesting, whether it's complex scientific research, myriad statistics, small-town political drama, or the spins and posturing of multinational corporations. I definitely learned a lot from this book, and so in lieu of a long review, I'd like to share some of her ideas and "fun" facts. * The outrageous success of bottled water, in a country where more than 89 percent of tap water meets or exceeds federal health and safety regulations, regularly wins in blind taste tests against name-brand water, and costs 240 to 10,000 times less than bottled water, is an unparalleled social phenomenon, and one of the greatest marketing coups of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. * Manufacturing and filling plastic water bottles consumes twice as much water as the bottle will ultimately contain, in part because bottle-making machines are cooled by water. Plants that use reverse osmosis to purify tap water lose between three and nine gallons of water — depending on how new the filters are and what they remove — for every filtered gallon that ends up on the shelf. On average, only 60 to 70 percent of the water used by bottling plants ends up on supermarket shelves; the rest is waste. * Most bottled water is safe, by government standards. Almost always, the FDA sets levels for chemical, microbial, and radiological contaminants no less stringent than those fo the EPA. It sounds good, but if you think you are buying pure, natural water from a pristine fount — and why wouldn't you, based on the labels' pretty pictures and the amount of money you spent? — you might be disappointed to learn the FDA allows in bottled water the same complement of disinfection by-products, pesticides, heavy metals, and radioactive materials the EPA allows in tap. The only difference is that public water utilities are required fin their annual reports to let you know, while the bottled-water industry has spent millions to make sure you don't, lobbying hard to keep such information off its labels. * It's a self-fulfilling prophecy: the fewer who drink from public water supplies, the worse the water will get, and the more bottled water we'll need. Poor people in the devloping world end up waiting in lie for hours to buy buckets of water that cost far more than the stuff they could have gotten from the tap, if the utility were doing its job. In Lagos, Nigeria, the poor pay four to ten times more for a liter of water than do people hooked up to water mains; in Lima, they pay seventeen times more; in Karachi, twenty-eight to eighty-three times more; in Jakarta, up to sixty times more; and in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, up to one hundred times more. * Eating less meat is a good idea, in terms of water conservation: the water footprint of a four-ounce hamburger produced in California is 616 gallons. A cotton T-shirt is backed by 528.3 gallons of water; a single cup of coffee, 52.8. * America uses more water per person than any other country in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development: about one hundred gallons a day. The British use thirty-one, and Ethiopians make do with just three. So yeah. It's a depressing book, to be sure. And not only because it highlights one more way that I feel like an alien sometimes, knowing that the vast majority of people in this country have no problem with things like bottled water, which to me is the epitome of selfishness, callousness, obliviousness, financial idiocy, and on and on. No, the real reason this book is depressing is because it makes it plain that there really aren't any clear-cut solutions. It's easy to boycott bottled water, but there are a lot of places (like Fiji) where if the water company went out of business, things would get much, much worse. In addition, tap water itself isn't really that great, especially for those with compromised immune systems, and making it better is prohibitavely expensive for even rich cities, let along for the poor ones who can't even maintain their pipes. Plus, even refilling (and refillable) plastic water bottles is unhealthy, as the toxins leach out faster and faster the older the bottle. And plus again, everything we do uses water, and nearly everything uses plastic too. I don't know how we make it better.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Bob Peru

    bottled water is evil. drink from the tap. you won't die. bottled water is evil. drink from the tap. you won't die.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Connie G

    Americans eat and drink on the run more than ever, and sales of bottled water are second only to soda. According to the author, an entire generation is growing up with the idea that drinking water comes in small plastic bottles. There is a large markup in price for bottled waters. A huge amount of energy is used to make the water bottles, fill them, truck them to the consumer, and haul away the empty bottles. Elizabeth Royte investigated the dispute between Nestle, who owns the Poland Spring bran Americans eat and drink on the run more than ever, and sales of bottled water are second only to soda. According to the author, an entire generation is growing up with the idea that drinking water comes in small plastic bottles. There is a large markup in price for bottled waters. A huge amount of energy is used to make the water bottles, fill them, truck them to the consumer, and haul away the empty bottles. Elizabeth Royte investigated the dispute between Nestle, who owns the Poland Spring brand of bottled water, and the townspeople in Fryeburg, Maine, near the Saco River. Without adequate laws on the books about the ownership of water, a corporation can potentially pump huge amounts from an aquifer, adversely affecting its neighbors and the aquatic life in the streams that are fed by the springs. The book tells about the different types of bottled water, some from natural springs and others from filtered tap water. The author visited water treatment plants around the country, and wrote about the challenges of purifying the water especially in places with high levels of agricultural fertilizer and pesticides. Traces of pharmaceuticals, especially hormones, in tap water are becoming more of a concern but are not normally tested for now. Even if the tap water is pure leaving the treatment plants, lead in old pipes can be a problem. Cracked old pipes can let in contamination from the ground. Chloride can mix with other chemicals to form unhealthy compounds. The author did years of research, traveling around the country to see how various communities solve the problem of providing clean, drinkable water as well as visiting the water bottlers. She did a good job of explaining the environmental, health, and fiscal challenges facing the providers of water. There is a lot of food for thought in this book for the water consumer.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Todd Martin

    Bottlemania is about the rise in consumption of bottled water and some of the effects of this trend. The book is best when it discusses consumer idiocy in buying this stuff, which in many cases is no better (and in some cases worse) than what comes out of the tap (for example - benzene in Perrier). There is also the waste and pollution associated with the manufacturing and disposal of millions of plastic bottles. Instead of focusing on these real issues, Royte becomes enmeshed in a battle that th Bottlemania is about the rise in consumption of bottled water and some of the effects of this trend. The book is best when it discusses consumer idiocy in buying this stuff, which in many cases is no better (and in some cases worse) than what comes out of the tap (for example - benzene in Perrier). There is also the waste and pollution associated with the manufacturing and disposal of millions of plastic bottles. Instead of focusing on these real issues, Royte becomes enmeshed in a battle that the citizens of Fryeburg Maine are engaged in with Nestle Corp (parent company of Poland Spring). She then tries to tie this fight into the larger issue of water privatization. What do these issues have to do with bottled water? Well, it turns out … very little. A look at the arguments in the Fryeburg/Nestle dispute show that the broader issue is really one of a small town trying to retain its small town values against a domineering and bullying multinational corporation. The fact that the multinational happens to be a water bottler is incidental to the dispute. Looking for any way to stop development, residents argue every angle they can, including environmental damage and water depletion. However, evidence of harm in this area is lacking. On the issue of water privatization, a real concern does exist when discussing the privatization of municipal drinking water supply and distribution systems. But that’s not what is happening here. Bottled water represents 0.02% of total water use in the US. Privatization of bottled drinking water sources is simply not going to cause anyone to go thirsty. Attempting to equate the two issues is a stretch.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cynda

    As a result of reading this book, I have bought a cup with a slide-close mouthpiece that I can take with me rather another oh-so-convenient plastic water bottles. When I drink one of these pre-packaged water bottles, I think I am doing something good for myself. But it is not good for the Earth my mother and therefore not good for me. The emptying out of reservoirs and waterways that belong to someone else's town or city depletes their water sources their right to life and to high property value As a result of reading this book, I have bought a cup with a slide-close mouthpiece that I can take with me rather another oh-so-convenient plastic water bottles. When I drink one of these pre-packaged water bottles, I think I am doing something good for myself. But it is not good for the Earth my mother and therefore not good for me. The emptying out of reservoirs and waterways that belong to someone else's town or city depletes their water sources their right to life and to high property values. Several organizations, including Earth Liberation Front (ELF) remind anyone listening that the water is given to people to use to live well, not to be stolen or otherwise taken, removed, packaged and sent away so that the locals have limited water resources. Well, great book. Gets me on a talking jag :-S

  10. 4 out of 5

    John

    An excellent and engaging look at the water we drink. Although written ten years ago, it feels entirely current to today. It is not only a look at bottled water, but looks at the municipal supplies of New York City and Kansas City, which are engineering marvels of bringing clean tap water to millions of people. And with that examination of those cities, the book gets to the heart of the matter that municipal supplies must to be protected and not taken for granted.

  11. 5 out of 5

    DW

    I almost wish I hadn't read this book. It doesn't just answer the question in the title (people started buying bottled water to be elite, basically, and then everybody started buying bottle water because it's convenient and because it's good to drink water). This book also covers in a lot of depth how Nestle (which owns Poland Springs) is messing up a small town in Maine by draining their aquifer and sending 24/7 heavy truck traffic through their town. It covers all the chemicals put into tap wa I almost wish I hadn't read this book. It doesn't just answer the question in the title (people started buying bottled water to be elite, basically, and then everybody started buying bottle water because it's convenient and because it's good to drink water). This book also covers in a lot of depth how Nestle (which owns Poland Springs) is messing up a small town in Maine by draining their aquifer and sending 24/7 heavy truck traffic through their town. It covers all the chemicals put into tap water to clean it, and what their byproducts are (boy was I right when I chose to avoid chemistry as a major), and all the other yucky things that could be in our tap water but we're not really sure because municipalities average out readings over a whole year when they report findings. (If you're drinking from a well, you have to pay to test it yourself; and even if the water starts out pure the pipes coming to your house are probably coated in a slime called "biofilm"). It covers how we're going to run out of water on earth any time now, especially with global warming making dry lands drier, and the only reasonable way to ensure that we have enough water is to recycle waste (but there's no guarantees on how clean that would actually be). Before I read this book, I drank tap water regularly and didn't think much about it. Now I still drink tap water, but I notice the funny taste and wonder about that biofilm on my pipes. I'm going to look at Aquafina and Dasani and think about it being purified tap water, and I'm going to look at Poland Springs and think about that town in Maine with citizens futilely trying to stem the tide of heavy trucks rolling through. I really hope that in a month or two I'm going to be able to drink tap water again without thinking about how it tastes and why it tastes that way. [Though, to be fair, she does raise an interesting point that people who "opt out" of tap water by drinking bottled water shrink the pool of people concerned about the quality of tap water. If that keeps happening, tap water is likely to get worse because so few people will care about keeping it safe.]

  12. 5 out of 5

    Evanston Public Library

    Do you drink bottled water? Do you know where that water comes from? Do you know what the carbon footprint is for that two dollar plastic bottle of water you casually purchased to have with lunch? And what about your tap water? Concerned about its healthfulness? Confused? Here is a book about a resource that used to be something we fortunate First Worlders didn't worry much about--it was readily available, seemingly free (a city service, but a cheap one), and a simple, no-cal refreshment suitabl Do you drink bottled water? Do you know where that water comes from? Do you know what the carbon footprint is for that two dollar plastic bottle of water you casually purchased to have with lunch? And what about your tap water? Concerned about its healthfulness? Confused? Here is a book about a resource that used to be something we fortunate First Worlders didn't worry much about--it was readily available, seemingly free (a city service, but a cheap one), and a simple, no-cal refreshment suitable for all ages and tastes. Alas, no more. Along with fossil fuels, water is the 21st-century's most precious and potentially fought over substance. Royte, writing with wit and exhibiting much personal involvement, tackles the problem of water rights (if Nestle owns the land does it own the aquifer deep below it?), safety, and conservation. She delineates the impact of bottled water--retrieving it, shipping it, making the plastic bottles, dealing with the refuse. (hint: it takes a shocking amount of energy to do all of that). This issue is huge and the debate is raging. Be informed--read this book! (Barbara L., Reader's Services)

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nikki

    I was very interested in this book because I have always hated bottled water and give it the evil eye whenever I am in close proximity to it. Our society is far too disposable/one and done anymore and bottled water is just one of the many examples of it. The environmental damages, the waste and the blatant absurdity have led to the aforementioned evil eye. So this book had potential in my mind. However, I felt the book fell a bit short of its goal. There is far too much focus on one situation in I was very interested in this book because I have always hated bottled water and give it the evil eye whenever I am in close proximity to it. Our society is far too disposable/one and done anymore and bottled water is just one of the many examples of it. The environmental damages, the waste and the blatant absurdity have led to the aforementioned evil eye. So this book had potential in my mind. However, I felt the book fell a bit short of its goal. There is far too much focus on one situation in a small town in Maine and Nestle. While I felt it was a good example of the bottled water business, it should not have been the focus of the book. The book felt more like a summary of the events in Maine versus an overall explanation of the bottled water world. Also, the book becomes repetitive and dull after awhile and I felt the book could have been shorter. I appreciate the book's existence because not many people know much about what they are apparently buying daily/weekly (boggles the mind) or anything about water filtration. The science aspects of the story interested me the most, although it was nothing new to me.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Julie

    Royte was very even in her treatment of both sides of a complex issue - who owns our water and the right to bottle and market it. While her sympathies seem to lie with the small-town landowners whose wells and ponds are running dry, she goes out of her way to address the issue from the point of view of the bottlers, and I really appreciated that she never seemed to have an agenda. Her analysis of the development (mainly in the late 20th century) of the marketing of water as a commodity was reall Royte was very even in her treatment of both sides of a complex issue - who owns our water and the right to bottle and market it. While her sympathies seem to lie with the small-town landowners whose wells and ponds are running dry, she goes out of her way to address the issue from the point of view of the bottlers, and I really appreciated that she never seemed to have an agenda. Her analysis of the development (mainly in the late 20th century) of the marketing of water as a commodity was really informative. She made me think about a lot of concerns that I never considered - where does our water come from, what are the environmental costs of transporting it (both public water and water "for sale"), how is our waste treated, how is it returned to the ecosystem. When was the last time any of us thanked our waste-treament plant managers for the job they do, or even thought about the job they do? She pointed out that these individuals, even in cities with public water systems that receive excellent ratings, have a difficult and thankless task.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lynne Pennington

    This book should be required reading for anyone who drinks water! Royte does an excellent job of presenting the facts regarding not just bottled water, but all of our drinking water. At the end, I think most readers will come away wondering just what SHOULD a responsible person drink when it comes to water. Most people have no clue where their water comes from---and that includes swillers of bottled water. All aspects of tap, filtered and bottled are covered, and in the end, we all need to educa This book should be required reading for anyone who drinks water! Royte does an excellent job of presenting the facts regarding not just bottled water, but all of our drinking water. At the end, I think most readers will come away wondering just what SHOULD a responsible person drink when it comes to water. Most people have no clue where their water comes from---and that includes swillers of bottled water. All aspects of tap, filtered and bottled are covered, and in the end, we all need to educate ourselves about our water since potable drinking water from natural sources is becoming more and more rare. Do we really want to leave it in the hands of global corporations? This is a truly fair treatment of a topic we should all be thinking about.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurajean

    Interesting look at water. My family drinks a lot of bottled water, and I'd never considered the downsides to it until reading this. There are a lot of things about water I'd never considered until reading this. This book has me interested in changing the way my family uses water, and in water issues for developing countries. Reading about toilet-to-tap water made me nauseous, however. Interesting look at water. My family drinks a lot of bottled water, and I'd never considered the downsides to it until reading this. There are a lot of things about water I'd never considered until reading this. This book has me interested in changing the way my family uses water, and in water issues for developing countries. Reading about toilet-to-tap water made me nauseous, however.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Lobstergirl

    If you have questions about water, read this book. I learned a ton. New Yorkers, you have really clean tap water. You should go thank a water department worker. But if you still feel skeeved by drinking from the tap, Royte recommends installing a point-of-use filter, either at the tap, or under the sink. Here's some food for thought: “It’s a self fulfilling prophecy: the fewer who drink from public supplies, the worse the water will get, and the more bottled water we’ll need.” If you have questions about water, read this book. I learned a ton. New Yorkers, you have really clean tap water. You should go thank a water department worker. But if you still feel skeeved by drinking from the tap, Royte recommends installing a point-of-use filter, either at the tap, or under the sink. Here's some food for thought: “It’s a self fulfilling prophecy: the fewer who drink from public supplies, the worse the water will get, and the more bottled water we’ll need.”

  18. 5 out of 5

    Brandy Kendall

    In depth review of how and why water has changed in the past 100 years. This explains how different communities stand up, or fall, to water giants who tap thier natural resources. Aside from scaring me into a Brita filter, this book challenged me to STOP buying bottled water. A bit repetitve, but an intersting read.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    Sort of rambling and never makes a coherent point.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Bojana Duke

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This is one of those books that kind of leaves you feeling hopeless - there's really not a lot you can do make sure you're getting the best water possible. It's not that she's all doomsday-ish about it, the entire situation is really pretty lose-lose. I'll give you a the gist of it and you can choose to read it for yourself for details. It's not a bad book, though I thought her other novel, Garbageland, was better written. She got a little more lost in the technicalities in this one, I thought. This is one of those books that kind of leaves you feeling hopeless - there's really not a lot you can do make sure you're getting the best water possible. It's not that she's all doomsday-ish about it, the entire situation is really pretty lose-lose. I'll give you a the gist of it and you can choose to read it for yourself for details. It's not a bad book, though I thought her other novel, Garbageland, was better written. She got a little more lost in the technicalities in this one, I thought. *spoiler alert* (and please pardon my fuzziness on details - I've already returned the book to the library) Bottled water: drinking bottled water is just plain bad. There's a lot of fossil fuels being burned to create the plastic, clean the water and then ship it to you. Never mind the fact that only like 15% of plastic water bottles actually get recycled. The rest end up in landfills. Spring water is being removed from aquifers and affecting all sorts of environments which were relying on its flow. Whole rivers and ponds are drying up in those areas. As far as the quality of the water goes, the FDA "regulates" it and puts almost none of the restrictions on it that the EPA puts on tap water. In other words, the industry is self-policed and we know how that usually goes. The spring water is mostly better in quality than what you get from your tap, and the filtered tap water (think Aquafina, Dasani) is put through considerably more filtering to get it cleaner. However, bottling companies do not check their water quality as often as public utilities do and they only do it before it gets into the bottle. Most worrisome are the plastic residues that leach into your water from the bottle itself. The longer the bottle takes to get to you, the worse it gets. It's further compounded if the water heats up at all (e.g. being left in the car for a while) when bacteria can multiply and the plastic softens to release more chemicals into your water. Tap water: unfortunately, this isn't an ideal solution either. The quality of your tap water varies significantly with where you live. Luckily, Seattle has one of the five best water supplies in the U.S. so we're pretty fortunate here. Also in the top five are NYC and San Francisco. The worst include more or less any community drinking from the Mississippi. Yuck. Basically, industry, farms and our sewage systems are dumping all sorts of wastes into our water ways. The cities with the best water supplies tend to be ones which control the source of the water (e.g. Seattle owns all the land around the watershed, so they can control what gets built around it). The worst are ones at the bottom of long, big rivers (e.g. New Orleans). One of the biggest problems with public water supplies (besides all the dumping into our water) is just that our tax dollars are not enough to sustain them. There isn't enough money to really solve the problem the right way. And the more we drink bottled water, the more we're giving the impression that we're okay with it as the long-term solution, instead of investing in our public supplies. As an example of the money issue: there's a city somewhere in middle America (Kansas City, perhaps) which spends hundreds of thousands of dollars a year to get some chemical out of the drinking water. The remains of this process, heavily concentrated with the bad chemical, are then put right back into the river so that the next city downstream has to filter it out all over again. Genius. This is because the facilities literaly do only what's demanded of them by the EPA and not a shred more. There's no money for it. And then there's the fact that the EPA's regulations are still relatively lax: for example, they just require that certain metals and bacteria not exceed set levels on average, over the span of a year. This means that the levels can be dangerously high for a few days a year (usually summer when the water heats up) and then lower levels other times average it out to below the accepted threshold. One of the big ones to watch out for is the chlorine - excess amounts beyond what's required to get rid of the bacteria end up reacting with minerals in the water to form a carcinogenic substance. Home filters: the typical Brita filter gets rid of some of the chlorine but not a lot else. And that's only if you're using it correctly and replacing the filter often, which most people don't do. Part of he issue is that gravity alone can't get the water through a tighter filter. Tighter filters area available for attaching to your water line so that the pressure of the water flow will get it through the filter and, consequently, will get it cleaner. The moral issue: one of the questions brought up in the book and not really adequately addressed is whether or not water should be a God-given right. If we allow private companies to control our water supply and clean water becomes more and more scarce (as it will), we're getting ourselves into a tricky situation. The companies will work for their profits, not for the best interests of the communities where the water is coming from. Should money be required for getting clean water as it is for so many people in the third world? My solution: I'm going to ignore all of this for now and drink our pretty clean Seattle water. When we get a new place and have the opportunity to put in an under-sink filter, we'll do so. I've got reusable bottles that I carry around with me to make it unnecessary to buy bottled water when up and about. I have no problem with asking Starbucks or whoever to fill up my bottle from the tap instead of buying theirs.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Victory Wong

    Read the entire book. While not as compelling as _Fast Food_ - water seems to be a little cleaner than meat - it's still interesting and food (or water) for thought. It put a lot of "I wonders" to rest. I am definately going to get my water tested as I live in a brownstone and God only knows what is in the pipes. I would have to say that even though I thought I knew a lot about the water in NY and the water in bottles I learned a lot and definately found the book to be eye opening. I went to a ta Read the entire book. While not as compelling as _Fast Food_ - water seems to be a little cleaner than meat - it's still interesting and food (or water) for thought. It put a lot of "I wonders" to rest. I am definately going to get my water tested as I live in a brownstone and God only knows what is in the pipes. I would have to say that even though I thought I knew a lot about the water in NY and the water in bottles I learned a lot and definately found the book to be eye opening. I went to a talk with the author and a retired member of the department for environmental protection (I believe), which was facinating. She was quick to questions and clarification that I really appreciated with some general sweeping statements he made. A must read for anyone who buys into needing to drink a lot of water for your health (you might as well know what you're drinkig), for people caring for the elderly or children and anyone who cares for the environment. Bottom line for those who what to know the burning question though of "should we drink bottled or tap". For health-- the bottled is a a crap shoot and they don't have to tell you if there is something in it... At least with tap you can inquire and know the testing is not done by the same people that stand to lose money should the tests be bad. Drink out of metal bottles rather than nalgene or don't put your nalgene under high heat/heavy detergents (if it's older), that plasticy taste you get from poland spring water or other bottled water-- if it's been sitting there awhile really is the plastic chemicals leaching into your water.... And Brita doesn't do much but get rid of that chlorine taste and make you feel good. Bottom line for me is I'm going to keep drinking tap... I might reconsider if I'm in the midwest where there are a lot of pesticides and stuff in the ground and that leech into the water... But tap yep, for me. And no more Fuji (sigh, I sort of like them) as they are just environmentally bad bad bad as it takes a lot of fuel to get here. I'm very excited to read this book. Bottled water was a hot topic at my food coop in park slope and around the time they banned it I saw an article about this book in the coop's little newspaper. I've always had mixed feelings about bottled water-- on one hand I've drank some nasty nasty water out of pipes (tastes like blood yay!) and on the other I've heard horror stories about poland spring water. And of course do I really need to be drinking water from Fiji? (although I admit it, I like Fiji water... sigh). I'm trying to reduce my footprint and this is a good way to help me think about this. I would like to know though how biased she is about this topic... I would like an unbiased opinion. The creator of "The story of stuff" seemed pretty unbiased and I appreciated her answer that there is no easy solution to many environmental problems. Currently at about page 100+ (it's 200 something), she's not as a compelling writer as the author of Fast Food Nation but I've already stopped to think of a couple of topics she brings up. Right now the race seems pretty equal between bootled and tap. I've read some hideous stuff on tap (not finished yet for that section) and also some depressing stuff about bottled (plus environmental impact). I really really really want to test my tap water although I'm really scared at this point. I was very disappointed not to read more about the health benefits or lack thereof of water, she only had a short little paragraph or so and I really don't think she does that part justice. I mean, hell have I been "hydrating" all this time for no reason at all?! Inquiring minds want to know. Hopefully she gets more in depth with this topic later. I also have not read that much about water for growing crops, a very important part of clean water. She touched base when it came to the e coli scares on the spinach and how it got there (humans catch it from the food maybe good old Mceedees, use the toilet, the water washes into the sytem, get put into the water supply in the ground or just get a working over by water plants, they spray it on the plants and voila. Now didn't _that_ make you a little green? It certainly made me a little green.) Right now I'm scared or feeling guilty of environmental impact of drinking anything...

  22. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Bottled water is big business - in the US, sales have grown 170% between 1997 and 2006 ($4B to $108B). Globally, it's a $600B a year business. In 1987, per capita consumption of bottled water was 5.7 gallons; by 1997 it was 12.1 gallons and by 2006 was 27.6 gallons. Currently, bottled water is second only to soda in sales (of which Americans drink more than 50 gallons per person per year; beer and milk consumption trail bottled water still), but was expected to surpass soda by 2011 (this book wa Bottled water is big business - in the US, sales have grown 170% between 1997 and 2006 ($4B to $108B). Globally, it's a $600B a year business. In 1987, per capita consumption of bottled water was 5.7 gallons; by 1997 it was 12.1 gallons and by 2006 was 27.6 gallons. Currently, bottled water is second only to soda in sales (of which Americans drink more than 50 gallons per person per year; beer and milk consumption trail bottled water still), but was expected to surpass soda by 2011 (this book was published in 2008). The main questions Royte asks are: 1) Is it ethical for `companies to profit off something that is vital to human life (and relatedly, who owns water?), and 2) What is the most sustainable choice of drinking water? In the US, the bottled water industry takes only 0.02% of the total groundwater withdrawn each year. But it takes that water from the same few places rather than all over, and moves those gallons to other watersheds. Unlike pumping by local utilities, which stays within the same watershed. Added to this issue, is the fact that manufacturing and filling plastic water bottles consumes twice as much water as the bottle will ultimately contain. On average, only 60 - 70% of the water used by bottling plants ends up on supermarket shelves - the rest is waste (water is used to cool bottle-making machines). However, is takes 48 gallons of water to make a gallon beer, 4 gallons to make a one gallon of soda, and 4 gallons of water to produce one gallon of milk. Key difference here is that none of the latter can be obtained by turning on any tap in your house. Isn't that a lot of waste to duplcate something we can all already get for free? To add to this argument, bottled water costs more per gallon than gas. Gas in inarguably far more expensive to pull from the ground, process, and transport than water. Ultimately, the author suggests that the best way to consume water is from a reusable Sigg water bottle filled with tap water. There was so much in the book that's hard to summarize down, but the author took an exhaustive view of all alternatives - bottled, tap, filtered, reclaimed (aka sewage water), etc. - and talked about the many interconnected issues that make finding a simple solutiuon so difficult. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone. As always, a few facts for your enjoyment: - Earth is mostly water, but most is saltwater; only 3% is fresh and only a fraction of that is available for human rest (the rest is in snowcaps and icefields). - In addition to water woes in undeveloped and even developed countries (i.e. Australia), the EPA projects that 36 states will experience water shortage by 2013. Arizona is already importing all dirnking water and New Mexico had only a 10 year supply of water (as of then the book was published). - Bottled water has the highest markup in restaurants and convenience stores, with profit margins of 50 - 60%. In c-stores, bottled water is more profitable than gas. - Only 4 major US cities have water of such good quality that the EPA doesn't require additional filtration: Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, upstate NY, and Portland, OR. - In 1799, the NY state legislature empowered Aaron Burr's Manhattan Company to build a water delivery system. Burr was expected to tap the Bronx River, but opted instead to drill new wells into the (vile) existing water system. Over 32 yeas, the Manhattan Company laid just 23 miles of pipe. However, Burr used surplus funds from his $2M fund to establish a bank that is now known as JPMorgan. - Used bottles of water have only a 23% recycle rate. - If all Americans cut their shower time by 1 minute for a year, we'd conserve 161B gallons of water. - Letting a faucet run for 5 minutes consumes about as much energy as burning a 60 watt incandescent light bulb for 14 hours.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Steven Shook

    With a BS and MS in natural resources and a PhD in marketing, I was extremely interested in reading Ms. Royte's book Bottlemania. I teach marketing courses at a university and have used bottled water as a semester-long case study for well over a decade. By reading Ms. Royte's book, I believed that I could add to the base knowledge for my case study teaching approach. Unfortunately, I came away rather disappointed with Bottlemania. "Why?," you may ask. The reasons are many, which I will briefly d With a BS and MS in natural resources and a PhD in marketing, I was extremely interested in reading Ms. Royte's book Bottlemania. I teach marketing courses at a university and have used bottled water as a semester-long case study for well over a decade. By reading Ms. Royte's book, I believed that I could add to the base knowledge for my case study teaching approach. Unfortunately, I came away rather disappointed with Bottlemania. "Why?," you may ask. The reasons are many, which I will briefly describe: [1] Bias and Subjectivity. While there are a large number of solid facts presented in the book, those that support the bottled water industry are generally discounted, while those facts supporting challengers of the industry are very often overly emphasized. I interpreted several comments concerning the industry by Ms. Royte as snide, unsupportable, and parroting general environmental opposition toward large corporations. The bias and subjectivity of comments made by Ms. Royte clouds facts and does not allow the reader to come to their own conclusions based on the facts presented. [2] Poorly Written. I question whether an editor was used in the development and final preparation of the book. The style of writing is a combination of diary-stream of consciousness, investigative newspaper article, and book. Smashing all three styles together makes reading cumbersome. In addition, the interjection of Ms. Royte's personal opinions and subjective observations within the presentations of fact erodes the quality of the book and makes the reading of it less than enjoyable. To illustrate, Royte introduces the reader to a marketing campaign from Glaceau whereby the company indicated that consumers are looking for products that make them feel better. Royte immediately responds with "I had to laugh when I read that because Glaceau makes me feel worse." Ms. Royte does not explain this particular comment in any detail to indicate why Glaceau makes her feel worse. It's unknown whether Royte's statement was just thrown in to be interpreted as humorous, insightful, or fact-based. There a many other examples throughout Bottlemania like the example above. I walked away from reading this book thinking to myself "what were the points of Royte's personal subjective interjections?" [3] Consumer Behavior Misunderstood. A major objective of Bottlemania is to understand WHY we purchase bottled water. To answer this question, one must address the various theories of consumer behavior. Royte's book is generally void in addressing consumer behavior and motives for purchasing. Instead, the depth of consumer behavior in Bottlemaia is based, once again, on Royte's subjective observations with no theoretical framework to support her contentions. Instead, Royte continually beats the anti-corporate drum that states that marketing (in particular, promotional campaigns) has forced consumers to purchase bottled water. That's simply a farce. There are numerous real and theoretical reasons to easily explain why consumers are purchasing bottled water, some lightly touched upon by Royte, but it certainly is not due solely to exposure to promotional campaigns. In other words, consumers are not "stupid," as Mr. Royte's book implies (i.e., consumers buy into promotional campaigns lock, stock, and barrel). There are secondary reasons for my disappointment with Bottlemania, but the three above are my primary reasons for giving the book two stars. My $25 could have been better spent elsewhere. Bottlemania, in my opinion, is an example of how books should not be written to explore various product markets. I learned little about the industry's development, but learned much about slanted, uninformed writing concerning consumer behavior.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Schuyler

    I'm not going to say too much about this book. Out of the nine chapters, I found chapters 1, 6, 7, and 9 to be the most worthwhile. Below are paragraphs I found the most interesting and informative. What is largely left out of this review is the heavy amount of politics in the bottled water industry, corporation vs. small town type stuff. "Muncipal water in this country is spectacularly underpriced-nationwide, about $2.50 for a thousand gallons. That consumers are willing to pay several thousand I'm not going to say too much about this book. Out of the nine chapters, I found chapters 1, 6, 7, and 9 to be the most worthwhile. Below are paragraphs I found the most interesting and informative. What is largely left out of this review is the heavy amount of politics in the bottled water industry, corporation vs. small town type stuff. "Muncipal water in this country is spectacularly underpriced-nationwide, about $2.50 for a thousand gallons. That consumers are willing to pay several thousand times more for bottled water that tastes good indicates we're willing to make some sacrifices for water that actually is good." pg.219 "...if you think you are buying pure, natural water from a pristine fount, you might be disappointed to learn the FDA allows in bottled water the same complement of disinfection by-products, pesticides, heavy metals, and radioactive materials the EPA allows in tap. The only difference is that public water utilities are required in their annaul reports to let you know, while the bottled-water industry has spent millions to make sure you don't, lobbying hard to keep such information off its labels." (pg. 143-144) "Why is there so much stuff to remove from tap water? Because we've neglected our pipes and conduits, I remind myself; we've washed drugs and industrial and agriculture contaminants into our rivers; we've condoned urban sprawl, which sends sediment, upon which bacteria thrive, into our reserviors; and our efforts at disinfection sometimes make matters worse...The alternative, bottled water, presents another set of issues. Producing and transporting it burns oil, which contributes to global warming, and the bottles themselves may harm health by leaching chemicals...[But] it's the way we've come to live. We want convenience, cheap food, a drug for every mood, bigger houses, and faster gadgets. Whether it's building a second home or manufacturing meat, magazines, or mopeds, it all takes a toll on our water." (pg. 160-161) "...the inverted quarantine, in which Americans remove themselves from environmental problems by buying things (fallout shelters, homes in suburbs, organic food, 'ethical' bottled water) instead of working on solutions through political organizing. In the nineties, we started buying bottled water to protect ourselves from tap and to distinguish ourselves from the masses. Now, thanks to rising eco-consciousness, a segment of society is going in the other direction. If buying something new- a filter or bottle- makes this more palatable to the consumption-addled populace, so be it." pg. 166 "Fashion drove a certain segment of society to embrace bottled water in the first place, and fashion (green chic, that is) may drive that same segment to reject it. But the imperative to stop global warming- the biggest reason for the backlash- reaches only so far. For some, the imperative to protect oneself from tap water that either tastes bad or is bad, or the simple allure of convenience, may trump any planetary concerns." pg. 169-170 "But refusing Dasani in Des Plaines, I'm pretty sure, isn't going to help a thirsty Indian any more than cleaning your plate will help a starving African." pg. 211 "Bottled water companies don't answer to the public, they answer to shareholders...Bottled water does have its place- emergencies, [and such]- But it's often no better tha tap water, its environmental and social price is high, and it lets our public guardians off the hook for protecting watersheds, stopping polluters, upgrading treatment and distribution infrastructure, and strengthening treatment standards." pg. 255

  25. 5 out of 5

    David

    I find it amazing that in a country where water can be drunk out of a tap, and also from most streams away from towns and farms, people buy bottled water. A thought just occurred. We could radically help out the public sector by massively taxing bottled water at retail outlets by levying a 90% tax on water sold this way. If people are to lazy to go to a tap, or gullible enough, despite a stream of published research findings as to the lack of benefit in bottled water, then why not cash in on thi I find it amazing that in a country where water can be drunk out of a tap, and also from most streams away from towns and farms, people buy bottled water. A thought just occurred. We could radically help out the public sector by massively taxing bottled water at retail outlets by levying a 90% tax on water sold this way. If people are to lazy to go to a tap, or gullible enough, despite a stream of published research findings as to the lack of benefit in bottled water, then why not cash in on this unnecessary and wasteful trend to support the overstrained public services such as police, education, welfare, health and even environmental issues. Ok thats my quick rant. Now to read the book. OK, halfway through. Different to what I expected and not the sort of style that really appeals to me for this sort of subject. Its very easy to read but in a folksy sort of way. The problem with the "folksy" thing is that it give bias to the facts presented. I do not care if the guy who runs a factory has a glint in his eye and a winning smile when he is interviewed, or if he smells like a brewery and dresses like a pimp. Its the facts and their implications I want to read about. But I understand the idea of investigating one field case study and then introducing information from elsewhere as appropriate and it has been educational. I had not realised the $ involved in the business of water provided by public utilities, nor the resources involved in maintaining a good quality of service especially where water cannot be readily drawn upon at a good quality from close sources. (I type this on a day when driving home from work the radio news said that Obama had said no to a contract to build a water pipeline from Canada to Texas.) And now finished. For some reason a little disappointed. I think my expectations were for a more hard hitting, factual book maybe with more information from around the world rather that the USA. Nestle corp gets quite a mention so more info as to what the Swiss consumption and take of the whole issue would be nice. I did find the viewpoint of those residing at the sourcing of water interesting and one I had not fully taken into account, and was expecting the book to end with a thought about the future when fresh air could be be brought in pressure packs.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Bottlemania offers information about the many cons and few pros of choosing bottled water over tap. Cons: Potentially draining the water supply for locals (where bottled water is taken) much faster than if everyone drank water from the nearest source; the extra water it takes to package bottled water; increased pollution and fuel consumption from transporting bottled water all over the country and world; increased trash in landfills; potentially less money for repairing and maintaining the infra Bottlemania offers information about the many cons and few pros of choosing bottled water over tap. Cons: Potentially draining the water supply for locals (where bottled water is taken) much faster than if everyone drank water from the nearest source; the extra water it takes to package bottled water; increased pollution and fuel consumption from transporting bottled water all over the country and world; increased trash in landfills; potentially less money for repairing and maintaining the infrastructure that delivers tap water to our homes and businesses; and more. Pros: Providing clean drinking water for people in areas with water problems. Convenience is a pro; or is it when repeatedly choosing convenience produces so many negative effects? Royte makes her bias for drinking tap water known but deals with both sides of the issue fairly. Lots of statistics, organizations, people, and scientific processes are introduced, but key arguments, many listed above, emerge mulitple times. Byproducts of cleaning up tap water, corporations' right to "own" communities' water supplies, and other issues are also addressed. Interesting facts to ponder: *Most tap water in America meets or exceeds federal regulations for safety. *After transporting and bottling, 6X more water is used than what is in a bottle of water. *New York City has some of the safest tap water in the country, all because of natural filtration. Though not perfect, this book presents enough information to hopefully make the reader more cognisant of how his/her choices affect the environment and more.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Trena

    When I noticed the author's name on Bottlemania, I got a little worried. Elizabeth Royte's Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash was an ok book, but not an experience I wanted to repeat. However, I had ordered the book on ILL and figured I should give it a try before returning it. Luckily, it turns out to be much better than Garbage Land. Again, the book is not as comprehensive as its title promises, but the part of the story of water that it tells is compelling and a little bit scary. Royte When I noticed the author's name on Bottlemania, I got a little worried. Elizabeth Royte's Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash was an ok book, but not an experience I wanted to repeat. However, I had ordered the book on ILL and figured I should give it a try before returning it. Luckily, it turns out to be much better than Garbage Land. Again, the book is not as comprehensive as its title promises, but the part of the story of water that it tells is compelling and a little bit scary. Royte's main focus is on Poland Springs and one of its water sources in Maine. She looks at the effects of its pumping both on the spring and its connected waterways and on the town's residents. Wells go dry and algae grows in the lake, but it's difficult to prove they are connected to pumping for bottled water, and water laws in northeastern states--where shortages are extremely rare--provide little protection against private extraction and export of unlimited clean water. While this controversy makes up the bulk of the book, Royte does spend a little time addressing the problem of clean water around the world, and how the availability of bottled water reduces the collective incentive to spend public money cleaning up water sources. She doesn't really get into the "Why We Bought It" part of the sub-title--the marketing that convinced people with drinkable tap water that bottled is better--which was a disappointment to me. All in all, an interesting though not comprehensive book. Quite readable.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tara Kelsey

    This book was alright, but it wasn't necessarily what I thought I was getting. Based on the tagline "How Water Went On Sale And Why We Bought It", I had assumed that the book would have a strong backbone in history and sociology. Instead, the book was laced with the narrative of the town of Fryrberg, Maine, where Poland Spring planned to place an additional bottling plant. It was laced with scientific jargon, and aside from the story of the one particular town, was almost devoid of all humanity. This book was alright, but it wasn't necessarily what I thought I was getting. Based on the tagline "How Water Went On Sale And Why We Bought It", I had assumed that the book would have a strong backbone in history and sociology. Instead, the book was laced with the narrative of the town of Fryrberg, Maine, where Poland Spring planned to place an additional bottling plant. It was laced with scientific jargon, and aside from the story of the one particular town, was almost devoid of all humanity. Maybe the confusion is my fault. See, I had assumed that much of the book would focus on HOW water went on sale and WHY WE bought it (which must have been dumb of me, seeing as it's not like it's LITERALLY THE TAGLINE or anything) rather than the effects of water bottling on small-town America and a detailed analysis of the pros and cons of bottled vs tap water. I had been looking forward to an analysis on the collectivism of bottled water, or a study about misplaced public mistrust, or a slightly more detailed history of hoe bottled water had gotten its start. I hadn't wanted to read the latter book, but the misbranding coereced me into doing so. For what it was, the book was alright and pretty interesting at its best, though dull and repetitive at its worst. I figure you have to be pretty into the subject matter to actually enjoy reading 230 pages about water, though what was interesting was interesting enough to make me reconsider my own water usage. If anything, it certainly made me more aware.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    I'm all about making profit; but whatever numbnuts came up with a plan to package and distribute the most basic of human needs should be slapped in the head with a case of their product... Actually who needs some sense knocked into them are those of us who are buying bottled water like crazy. Municipality controlled water supplies are fine for drinking; we could be using that and remain thankful that water is not traded on a commodities exchange...yet. This "kitchen faucet is not for drinking" n I'm all about making profit; but whatever numbnuts came up with a plan to package and distribute the most basic of human needs should be slapped in the head with a case of their product... Actually who needs some sense knocked into them are those of us who are buying bottled water like crazy. Municipality controlled water supplies are fine for drinking; we could be using that and remain thankful that water is not traded on a commodities exchange...yet. This "kitchen faucet is not for drinking" notion being forced into young minds is mostly unfounded. Reactions to the anti-tapwater phase crack me up. People opting for their personal factory sealed bottle of water, or soda, or juice...which I think was filled at a local bottler with the same water supply that we think we're staying away from. Waters like Fiji...imported from the most pristine and remote locations of the world only make the problem worse. Taking water from the peoples of those lands, repackaging and distributing it to where there is a larger profit margin. Seems like a precursor to future woes within the US...taking water from the Great Lakes (or Fryeburg Maine for that matter) and sending it over to the Southwest deserts. As for the book; a little into the figures and facts you're inundated with details more than you get fired up about the issue. As you can see for me there still was enough there to get the thinking started.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Iowill

    Now I officially rank Poland Springs with Starbucks in the files of viral, insipid, conspiracies to sell shares of 'local' and/or privatize what should be universal. Good read. Enjoy it with a fresh, icy cold glass of tap water. A year after I read this book, and used it to teach several sections of undergraduate classes, my lovely and brilliant wife bought me a birthday present....a 'home carbonator', which allows me to use tap water (that has been filtered in a low-footprint way) to make quart a Now I officially rank Poland Springs with Starbucks in the files of viral, insipid, conspiracies to sell shares of 'local' and/or privatize what should be universal. Good read. Enjoy it with a fresh, icy cold glass of tap water. A year after I read this book, and used it to teach several sections of undergraduate classes, my lovely and brilliant wife bought me a birthday present....a 'home carbonator', which allows me to use tap water (that has been filtered in a low-footprint way) to make quart after quart of fizzy water. Each gas container makes roughly 60 quarts of cold, clean fizz....and I probably drink 4 or 6 of these each day. Gas containers are recycled directly in pre-paid UPS cases...and the carbonator units can be used with either glass or plastic bottles that fit a specific unit. I use glass. I used to buy and haul as many as six 12-packs of aluminum canned fizzy water each week...amassing huge sacks of cans to be taken to redemption centers. Now I don't. Since I don't drink alcohol or soda pop, but do love cold, carbonation...this...is...a...godsend -- especially when you live in a town with tap water that, while much improved in the last 20 years, could be reliably described as "eau de public swimming pool", which is to say my tonsils are intact, but probably blond.

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