Bottled and Sold
The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water
By Peter H. Gleick
(Shearwater, Hardcover, 9781597265287, 232pp.)
Publication Date: April 2010
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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 H. Gleick is President of the Pacific Institute for Studies in Development, Environment, and Security in Oakland, California, and is a recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship for his work on water issues.
More than 85 million bottles of water are sold every day in the United States. Freshwater expert Peter Gleick explains what's in them -- and why we drink them -- in the book Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water. More at NPR.org
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"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.”
“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.”
“In his insightful new book, Bottled & Sold, the scientist and freshwater expert chronicles how modern society has abandoned one of its greatest public health achievements in favor of a financially and environmentally costly alternative… The book''s power lies in his obvious yet compelling argument: Rather than shore up the natural processes that have provided us with drinkable water for centuries, we have invented an elaborate business that causes more harm than good.”
“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.’
"Peter Gleick, one of the most visible and respected advocates for smart water use, has made a well-researched and timely first foray into popular nonfiction with his new book, Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water. ...Gleick culls first-rate anecdotes--some personal, some historical--to illuminate the more perplexing and revealing twists behind the bottled-water industry''s rapid growth."
“This is my favorite kind of book: packed with facts but such a pleasure to read. Peter Gleick has skillfully navigated the complex landscape of bottled water, covering everything from neglected municipal systems to bogus advertisers to piles of plastic waste. Congratulations to Gleick for tackling a problem of gigantic proportions and especially for charting a viable positive way forward.”
“We ended the sale of bottled water in 2007 at Chez Panisse as its environmental implications became clear. After reading Peter H. Gleick’s startling investigation of the lucrative and unsustainable bottled water industry, I am confident we made the right decision. Water is our most primary element. It is precious and its access should be a democratic right. Bottled and Sold is a carefully researched, clear-eyed look at an industry that too often escapes the public glare.”
“The P.R. execs and charlatans who hawk bottled water don’t want us asking a fundamental question: Will we abandon our commitment to providing safe public tap water? Peter Gleick takes the issue head on. He brilliantly captures the environmental, economic, and moral dimensions of the bottled water controversy in an exploration that is authoritative yet entertaining, alarming yet optimistic.”
"In Bottled and Sold, Peter Gleick shows that most communities serve up better tap water than the bottled stuff. Besides, all those bottles are filling up our landfills. If you want to know the full costs of this industry—from environmental to health and economic—this fascinating exposé is the best place to begin."
"Bottled And Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water, by MacArthur "genius grant" recipient Peter Gleick, confronts readers with questions like "If it''s called ''Arctic spring water,'' why is it from Florida?"
"Peter H. Gleick...has published a book that will have you thinking twice about reaching for that overpriced bottle of water the next time you''re in a store. "Bottled & Sold"...outlines, in disturbing detail, just how much of a threat those billions of plastic bottles are to the environment. [He] also makes a convincing case that most tap water is quite good--and better regulated than the oh-so-trendy stuff one finds in a store."
"Issue by issue, Gleick gently debunks the pro bottled water myths we are inundated with and exposes our mass consumption of bottled water as an “act of economic, environmental and social blindness”. Despite his engaging, Malcolm Gladwell-esque prose style, Gleick is more than just a journalist with an eye for a story and a knack for knitting together other people’s research. In fact, he is perhaps the world’s leading expert on fresh water...."
"Gleick, a scientist and noted water issues researcher, presents a thought-provoking, eye-opening view of the many aspects of bottled water usage....The book is well organized, easy to understand, interesting, and enjoyable to read."
"Bottled and Sold is a book that environmentalists, water experts, and all who follow consumer trends will want to read."
"Gleick makes a strong, supported, and fair case for for the status of bottled water in our consumer stream, with thorough research into many aspects of bottled water and municipal water supplies. Bottled & Sold is a must-read for anyone concerned about the bottled water industry or who advocates returning to the tap."
"...the book''s power lies in his obvious yet compelling argument: Rather than shore up the natural processes that have provided us with drinkable water for centuries, we have invented an elaborate business that causes more harm than good. And as he writes, this shift has transformed our daily lives without our even noticing."
“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....Bottled and Sold is a necessary book: we are surely in for serious water damage in the future if we continue to drink our water from bottles. Every citizen should read it; every legislator and state natural resource administrator should have a desk copy. Lobbyists who prowl the halls of Congress seeking to overturn long-standing common water laws ought to be made to read this, twice. It seems impossible that a reader would come away from Gleick’s book with a desire to ever buy another plastic bottle of water. It’s that compelling.”