Wednesday, July 28, 2010
America's Obsession with the Bottle, of Water that is...
Peter Gleick, who was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2003 for his work on sustainable water use and the connections between water and human health, has a new book out, Bottled and Sold, on American and our obsession with bottle water. In this book he examines how drinking water was commodified and specifically branded over 30 years turning what was once a free natural resource into a multibillion-dollar global industry.
I recently listed to Gleick’s interview on Fresh Air and here are some (depressing) factoids on our sordid bottled water obsession.
1. Every second of every day in the US 1,000 people buy and open a commercially bottled plastic bottle of water, and every second of every day 1,000 plastic bottles are thrown away.
2. If it says Spring Water than it’s from a spring, otherwise it’s municipal water that is filtered and processed, these include Dasani (Coke), Aquafina (Pepsi), and Pure Life (Nestle). With Dansai they strip out all the minerals and then they put minerals back so it tastes the same even though it comes from different municipal water locations (they call it, believe it or not, “Pixie Dust.”)
3. Poland Spring (Nestle) used to come from the Poland Spring in Maine, but we overextended this spring, pretty much using it all up. The company switched over to using water from any of half a dozen springs in the Northeast, but didn’t disclose this. There was a class action lawsuit, and now if you look at a Poland Spring bottle it now lists a bunch of spring sources that the water may have come from.
4. In the US 75% of the bottles used are not recycled. (Yep, even though we’ve been told to recycle for twenty years we’re still really bad at it.)
5. The bottles that are recycled are then shipped across the Pacific to China where they are then turned into toys, fabrics, rugs, etc, that are then (of course) sent back to the US to be sold.
Gleick recommend Americans should insist that your water municipalities are maintained and upgraded. Do something.
Explore. Think. Eat