Water, commercial product
Praise for Bottled and Sold
“Gleick covers the topic in illuminating detail, yet packages his writing with the skill and passion of a novelist. Supported by research, including interviews and plant visits, Gleick examines how water is found, pumped, bottled, treated, lied about, and sold to a relatively unsuspecting public. If selling bottled water is a shell game, Gleick picks the right shell every time.” – Foreword
“Gleick trains his scientifically objective eye on the bottled water phenomenon… [and] offers a sobering yet sensible look at society’s ill-considered thirst for bottled water.” -Booklist
“With the gusto of a born raconteur and the passion of a believer, Gleick makes a sound case for improving the developing world’s access to and the developed world’s attitude toward safe, piped drinking water purified by the natural hydrologic cycle.” – Publishers Weekly
“Alongside fascinating discursions into the history of the public water fountain, cholera, and Kabbalah, Gleick provides an dispassionate glimpse into purposeful distortions of science that drive us to believe bottled water will make us ‘healthier, skinnier, or more popular.'” – Seed
Peter Gleick knows water. A world-renowned scientist and freshwater expert, Gleick is a MacArthur Foundation “genius,” and according to the BBC, an environmental visionary. And he drinks from the tap. Why don’t the rest of us?
Bottled and Sold shows how water went from being a free natural resource to one of the most successful commercial products of the last one hundred years—and why we are poorer for it. It’s a big story and water is big business. Every second of every day in the United States, a thousand people buy a plastic bottle of water, and every second of every day a thousand more throw one of those bottles away. That adds up to more than thirty billion bottles a year and tens of billions of dollars of sales.
Are there legitimate reasons to buy all those bottles? With a scientist’s eye and a natural storyteller’s wit, Gleick investigates whether industry claims about the relative safety, convenience, and taste of bottled versus tap hold water. And he exposes the true reasons we’ve turned to the bottle, from fearmongering by business interests and our own vanity to the breakdown of public systems and global inequities.
“Designer” H2O may be laughable, but the debate over commodifying water is deadly serious. It comes down to society’s choices about human rights, the role of government and free markets, the importance of being “green,” and fundamental values. Gleick gets to the heart of the bottled water craze, exploring what it means for us to bottle and sell our most basic necessity.
Peter Gleick, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water (Shearwater, 2010)