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A Terrific Book About Water

Have we discussed your bottled water consumption?

Let’s discuss your bottled water consumption.

Once upon a time, water was a life-sustaining force—the life-sustaining force—available to humans via taps and hoses across the land. When you were thirsty, you turned on the tap, and the good stuff flowed out like the manna it was.

Oh, wait. That’s still true. Except, in the last 20 years, Americans have increasingly turned to bottled water and are now guzzling it by the landfill-load. As in: Back in 1987, each American averaged 5.7 gallons of bottled water a year. In 2006? 27.6 gallons—which works out to a billion bottles a week.

And where do you think those bottles go? 14% are recycled (which, though the best-case-scenario, is inferior to never having existed). The rest are thrown away—i.e., buried in earth-polluting landfills. Bye-bye, energy.

And that’s not the only problem with those pesky, single-serve plastic cylinders. There’s also the fact that they’re taking water from one place—Maine, France, Fiji—and flying it/boating it/trucking it around the world, releasing untold pollutants, and requiring untold amounts of fuel, to do so. When, again, you’ve got water a few feet from where you’re reading this, comin’ right through the pipes.

It’s time to head back to the tap. On your way, pick up a copy of Elizabeth Royte’s Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It. It’s a smoothly written, in-depth look at how corporations and their marketing machines convinced us that we needed bottled water—and how some people, including an entire town in western Maine—are fighting back.

So throttle the bottle.

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