Monday, October 6, 2008

Monday's green books series: 'Bottlemania' by Elizabeth Royte

Think about water for a second. You probably drank some already today. Was it from the tap or from a bottled water? does it matter? it certainly is as we can learn from our book today on our blog's green books series, and not just from a financial point of view, but also from environmental and social perspectives.

Our book for today is:

Author: Elizabeth Royte

Elizabeth Royte is the author of Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash and The Tapir's Morning Bath: Solving the Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest - both New York Times Notable Books. Her writing on science and the environment has appeared in Harper's, National Geographic, Outside, The New York Times Magazine, and other national publications.

Royte is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, a contributing editor for OnEarth, and a correspondent for Outside magazine. A former Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow and recipient of Bard College's John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their daughter.

Publisher: Bloomsbury USA (1st U.S. Ed edition)

Published on: May 13, 2008

What it is about (from Bottlemania's website):
In the follow-up to Garbage Land, her influential investigation into our modern trash crisis, Elizabeth Royte ventures to Fryeburg, Maine, to look deep into the source—of Poland Spring water. In this tiny town, and in others like it across the country, she finds the people, machines, economies, and cultural trends that have made bottled water a $60-billion-a-year phenomenon even as it threatens local control of a natural resource and litters the landscape with plastic waste.

Moving beyond the environmental consequences of making, filling, transporting and landfilling those billions of bottles, Royte examines the state of tap water today (you may be surprised), and the social impact of water-hungry multinationals sinking ever more pumps into tiny rural towns. Ultimately, Bottlemania makes a case for protecting public water supplies, for improving our water infrastructure and—in a world of increasing drought and pollution—better allocating the precious drinkable water that remains.

Why you should get it:
I read some time ago that bottled water will become the cigarettes of the 21st century. Well, it ain't happening yet and you don't see bottled water drinkers get pressured by regulation and society as smokers are. You also don't see companies like Nestle (owner of Poland Spring) treated the same way Phillip Morris is treated for example. But if there's any chance you will see eventually people drinking from bottled water at the corner of the streets and outside of bars, feeling a bit uncomfortable to do what they do it's because of books like Bottlemania.

There are so many environmental and social issues associated with the use of bottled water that you can't really know where to begin. What I do know is that a) water is a scarce resource b) there's hardly ever a real discussion about the real need in bottled water and on their footprint and c) there's a lot of money involved here (it's a $10 billion industry) so it's very hard to reveal the truth. Because of all of these three factors I'm very happy that we have a book like Bottlemania, which provides us with a serious discussion on an issue. We definitely need it for the sake of our future.

What others say about the book:
“An easy-to-swallow survey…. after you read it you will sip warily from your water bottle (whether purchased or tap, plastic or not), as freaked out by your own role in today’s insidious water wars as by Royte’s recommended ecologically responsible drink: “Toilet to tap.”” —Lisa Margonelli, New York Times Book Review

"Bottlemania makes the case that it's not in our interests to let private multinational corporations float their boats on our nation's water. That's not democracy, it's dam-ocracy, and it could damn us all if we let their unquenchable thirst for profit take precedence over our right to clean, safe, free drinking water." —Kerry Trueman,

“Bottlemania is eye-opening and informative; you will never look at water – either "designer" or tap – in quite the same way. Royte demonstrates how everything is, in the end, truly connected.” —Elizabeth Kolbert

More resources:

If you're looking for other interesting green-themed books, you are invited to check out our green books page on our website's green resources section.

Raz @ Eco-Libris