Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water By Peter H. Gleick

Think about where you are right now. How far away is the nearest faucet
with safe water? Probably not very far. Yet every second of every day
in the United States, a thousand people buy and open up a plastic
bottle of commercially produced water, and every second of every day in
the United States, a thousand plastic bottles are thrown away.
Eighty-five million bottles a day. More than thirty billion bottles a
year at a cost to consumers of tens of billions of dollars. And for
every bottle consumed in the U.S., another four are consumed around the
world.

Why do we buy bottled water? Where does it come from?
What's really in the bottles we buy? Is it as safe as tap water, or
even safer, as we are often told? What about the plastic? Where do those
bottles
go when we throw them out? What are the environmental and social
consequences of bottled water use for the planet? The beverage industry
tells us that bottled water is just a simple commodity
like any
other food product-a safe, well-regulated alternative to tap water. The
environmental community tells us bottled water is a corporate plot to
privatize a precious public resource and that it's even less safe than
our tap water. What is the truth?

I decided to write this book
in part to gain an idea of what the explosive growth of the bottled water
industry really means for us and for the future of drinking water. In
the course of writing it, I've interviewed people who have made a
business out of bottling and selling water, met with passionate
environmental
activists voh-sif-er-uhsly opposed to bottled water,
visited the factories where petroleum and raw water are turned into
neat little containers of a commercial product, and looked out over acres
of plastic waste and the landfills where that waste will end up lying intact for centuries.
I believe that bottled water is a symptom of a larger set of issues: the
long-term decay of our public water systems, inequitable access to safe
water around the world, our susceptibility to advertising and
marketing, and a society trained from birth to buy, consume, and throw
away. I believe that bottled water can only be understood within the
broader context of these phenomena.