Americans buy more bottled water than they do milk and beer - and the numbers are closing in on soda, journalist Elizabeth Royte (Garbage Land) tells readers in her latest book. Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It is an intrepid, intelligent analysis of Americans' raging thirst for bottled water, a probe of the industry, plus the politics, trafficking and scientific analysis of our drinking water. Royte reveals the powerful agendas that drive corporations such as Nestle; (Poland Springs), Coke (Dasani) and Pepsi Co. (Aquafina) to voraciously plunder, package and sell public/municipal waters, nationally and internationally.

Taking the water fiasco in Fryeburg, Maine, as a microcosmic example, Royte shows how corporate giants commercialize and profit from what many consider a "fundamental human right" (water access); the social and environmental impacts of depleting natural water sources and of shipping water worldwide; and a close (often gross) look at the purity, processing and safety of potable water.

In sum, Royte finds that "bottled water does have its place. . . . But it's often no better than 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." Alison Hood still drinks tap water.

 

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