Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Green Books Campaign: Bottled and Sold

This review is part of the Green Books campaign. Today 200 bloggers take a stand to support books printed in an eco-friendly manner by simultaneously publishing reviews of 200 books printed on recycled or FSC-certified paper. By turning a spotlight on books printed using eco- friendly paper, we hope to raise the awareness of book buyers and encourage everyone to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.

The campaign is organized for the second time by Eco-Libris, a green company working to make reading more sustainable. We invite you to join the discussion on "green" books and support books printed in an eco-friendly manner! A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on the Eco-Libris website. Bottled and Sold is printed on recycled paper.

Bottled water creates environmental issues not only in landfills, but also in communities where water is sourced. To be labeled "spring water" water must be sourced from underground aquifers, which are depleted far more quickly than their ability to self-replenish. Communities with bottling plants have found their water resources diminishing at an alarming rate.

Media and marketing play significant roles in creating the public frenzy for bottled water. The marketing of mainstream bottled water regularly suggests that it is better-tasting, purer, and safer than tap water. As Gleick proves, however, these claims are specious, at best. Blind taste tests have shown that many people do not prefer the taste of bottled water. Most interesting to me was the difference in safety standards applied to bottled and tap water. Tap water is regulated by the EPA, and must be tested multiple times daily. Any problem must be reported within hours. Bottled water is regulated by the FDA, and is required to be tested far less frequently, once monthly at best in many cases.

Marketing issues are not restricted to claims of safety and purity. Gleick's research also highlights the growth of a snake-oil like water hucksters who claim their bottled water has magical or healing properties. Some bottled waters claim to have realigned their molecules to create curative powers, or they claim to have spiritual powers, most famously the Kabbalah water favored by Madonna, among others. Minimal regulation allows these bottlers to make various unsubstantiated claims, and extort monies from willing believers.

Most troubling to Gleick is the fact that the increasing privatization of water may make potable water a luxury, rather than a necessity. If municipal water systems are ignored in favor of bottled water, the most vulnerable populations will be left without water resources. This is the problem Gleick most wants to stop. He is not advocating a complete ban on bottled water, but he is calling for tighter regulation, and more transparency on the effects of the bottled water industry.

One might think that a book on bottled water would not be interesting, but this was a highly readable book, decidedly engaging for anyone with an interest in social or environmental issues. Glecik's book is well-researched. This is a man who certainly knows his water. I can certainly recommend this book to other concerned readers.

Bottled and Sold is a book about the implications of the mass consumption of bottled water. Touching on the most well-known problem created by bottled water, millions of plastic bottles left in landfills, as well as more subtle issues, Gleick provides a comprehensive look at the environmental and social effects of bottled water. And those effects are staggering.


Serena said...

This is an issue that disturbs me. Do we really want to go down this road where water is a luxury? I think not. Great review.

Lisa said...

Stopping by from the Green Books Campaign.
I will definitely be reading this book! Thanks for the great review.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Excellent review of what sounds like a vital book!