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Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It

3.51  ·  Rating Details ·  751 Ratings  ·  175 Reviews
An incisive, intrepid, and habit-changing narrative investigation into the commercialization of our most basic human need: drinking water. Having already surpassed milk and beer, and second now only to soda, bottled water is on the verge of becoming the most popular beverage in the country. The brands have become so ubiquitous that we're hardly conscious that Poland Spring ...more
Hardcover, 248 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by Bloomsbury USA (first published May 13th 2008)
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Petra Eggs
Bottlemania is a fascinating expose of what ultimately, globally threatens everyone everywere if it is accepted that people will drink bottled water (which is privately-owned and supported by profits) so its unnecessary for governments to spend money on keeping tap water drinking-water pure for the general public.

There was never a need for bottled water in the West. This was an invented industry quite cynically developed by Nestle among others back in the 80s. They invented a scientific concept
Mar 10, 2011 Kirsten rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Everyone who drinks bottled water
This book covers a wide variety of topics including land/water rights (AKA who owns the land vs who owns the water and if they have the right to said water), BPA and other chemicals in the water, EPA vs. FDA standards (EPA for tap water, FDA for bottled), the image that bottled water conveys, and the author's personal concerns about what is best for her family.

In my opinion, this book is about the ongoing battle in the U.S. between privatization and public services. Tap water has been shown to b
Jun 07, 2011 Marieke rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Water issues are even more complex than i had thought. In some ways, i felt like this piece of non-fiction is an illustration of how dystopian novels don't really need to depict the near future. We are living in a dystopia right now--a time when pretty much everything is out of whack and our "solutions" are really just feeble attempts to keep our heads above water (no pun intended) and the consequences of our decisions and actions will likely only further distend the delicate balance: government ...more
Jul 12, 2008 Oriana rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2009
While I didn't love this as much as Garbage Land, it hasn't diminished my love for Elizabeth Royte any. She has a fantastic voice, which makes anything she discusses clear and interesting, whether it's complex scientific research, myriad statistics, small-town political drama, or the spins and posturing of multinational corporations. I definitely learned a lot from this book, and so in lieu of a long review, I'd like to share some of her ideas and "fun" facts.

* The outrageous success of bottled
Bob Peru
May 19, 2008 Bob Peru rated it really liked it
bottled water is evil. drink from the tap. you won't die.
Todd Martin
Jan 15, 2009 Todd Martin rated it liked it
Bottlemania is about the rise in consumption of bottled water and some of the effects of this trend.

The book is best when it discusses consumer idiocy in buying this stuff, which in many cases is no better (and in some cases worse) than what comes out of the tap (for example - benzene in Perrier). There is also the waste and pollution associated with the manufacturing and disposal of millions of plastic bottles.

Instead of focusing on these real issues, Royte becomes enmeshed in a battle that th
As a result of reading this book, I have bought a cup with a slide-close mouthpiece that I can take with me rather another oh-so-convenient plastic water bottles. When I drink one of these pre-packaged water bottles, I think I am doing something good for myself. But it is not good for the Earth my mother and therefore not good for me. The emptying out of reservoirs and waterways that belong to someone else's town or city depletes their water sources their right to life and to high property value ...more
Sep 29, 2013 DW rated it liked it
Shelves: good-to-know
I almost wish I hadn't read this book. It doesn't just answer the question in the title (people started buying bottled water to be elite, basically, and then everybody started buying bottle water because it's convenient and because it's good to drink water). This book also covers in a lot of depth how Nestle (which owns Poland Springs) is messing up a small town in Maine by draining their aquifer and sending 24/7 heavy truck traffic through their town. It covers all the chemicals put into tap wa ...more
I was very interested in this book because I have always hated bottled water and give it the evil eye whenever I am in close proximity to it. Our society is far too disposable/one and done anymore and bottled water is just one of the many examples of it. The environmental damages, the waste and the blatant absurdity have led to the aforementioned evil eye. So this book had potential in my mind. However, I felt the book fell a bit short of its goal. There is far too much focus on one situation in ...more
Evanston Public  Library
Do you drink bottled water? Do you know where that water comes from? Do you know what the carbon footprint is for that two dollar plastic bottle of water you casually purchased to have with lunch? And what about your tap water? Concerned about its healthfulness? Confused? Here is a book about a resource that used to be something we fortunate First Worlders didn't worry much about--it was readily available, seemingly free (a city service, but a cheap one), and a simple, no-cal refreshment suitabl ...more
Be prepared to have a dictionary sitting next to you or Google Define open and ready to go when reading this book! The author appears to enjoy peppering her sentences with superfluously obscure vocabulary. Terms such as effluent, perchlorate, various French derivative words and other chemicals will be presented without any explanation of their meaning.

While the author does visit several bottling plants, mostly owned by Nestlé, and speaks to various experts about bottled water, this book is mis-
Feb 09, 2009 Julie rated it really liked it
Royte was very even in her treatment of both sides of a complex issue - who owns our water and the right to bottle and market it. While her sympathies seem to lie with the small-town landowners whose wells and ponds are running dry, she goes out of her way to address the issue from the point of view of the bottlers, and I really appreciated that she never seemed to have an agenda. Her analysis of the development (mainly in the late 20th century) of the marketing of water as a commodity was reall ...more
Christina Wilder
Nov 20, 2015 Christina Wilder marked it as perhaps-perhaps-perhaps  ·  review of another edition
I'll be the first to say that the tremendous use of plastic is detrimental in so many ways (cost, landfill growth, etc.), but I use bottled water every day.

At my old house, we had a well and I happily drank the tap water, but my current house has such problems with clay in the water that my tub and toilets are stained, as well as dishes and cups (I have to scrub them with Comet every so often). My husband and I wash our clothes at the nearby laundromat since the clay would definitely ruin our c
Jun 16, 2008 Laurajean rated it really liked it
Interesting look at water.

My family drinks a lot of bottled water, and I'd never considered the downsides to it until reading this. There are a lot of things about water I'd never considered until reading this.

This book has me interested in changing the way my family uses water, and in water issues for developing countries.

Reading about toilet-to-tap water made me nauseous, however.
Jul 23, 2008 Brandy rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Environmentalists
In depth review of how and why water has changed in the past 100 years. This explains how different communities stand up, or fall, to water giants who tap thier natural resources.

Aside from scaring me into a Brita filter, this book challenged me to STOP buying bottled water. A bit repetitve, but an intersting read.
Lynne Pennington
Dec 14, 2016 Lynne Pennington rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book should be required reading for anyone who drinks water! Royte does an excellent job of presenting the facts regarding not just bottled water, but all of our drinking water. At the end, I think most readers will come away wondering just what SHOULD a responsible person drink when it comes to water. Most people have no clue where their water comes from---and that includes swillers of bottled water. All aspects of tap, filtered and bottled are covered, and in the end, we all need to educa ...more
Bojana Duke
Aug 12, 2010 Bojana Duke rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Victory Wong
Read the entire book. While not as compelling as _Fast Food_ - water seems to be a little cleaner than meat - it's still interesting and food (or water) for thought. It put a lot of "I wonders" to rest. I am definately going to get my water tested as I live in a brownstone and God only knows what is in the pipes. I would have to say that even though I thought I knew a lot about the water in NY and the water in bottles I learned a lot and definately found the book to be eye opening.

I went to a ta
Bottled water is big business - in the US, sales have grown 170% between 1997 and 2006 ($4B to $108B). Globally, it's a $600B a year business. In 1987, per capita consumption of bottled water was 5.7 gallons; by 1997 it was 12.1 gallons and by 2006 was 27.6 gallons. Currently, bottled water is second only to soda in sales (of which Americans drink more than 50 gallons per person per year; beer and milk consumption trail bottled water still), but was expected to surpass soda by 2011 (this book wa ...more
Steven Shook
Dec 26, 2015 Steven Shook rated it it was ok
With a BS and MS in natural resources and a PhD in marketing, I was extremely interested in reading Ms. Royte's book Bottlemania. I teach marketing courses at a university and have used bottled water as a semester-long case study for well over a decade. By reading Ms. Royte's book, I believed that I could add to the base knowledge for my case study teaching approach. Unfortunately, I came away rather disappointed with Bottlemania. "Why?," you may ask. The reasons are many, which I will briefly d ...more
Jun 16, 2008 Schuyler rated it liked it
I'm not going to say too much about this book. Out of the nine chapters, I found chapters 1, 6, 7, and 9 to be the most worthwhile. Below are paragraphs I found the most interesting and informative. What is largely left out of this review is the heavy amount of politics in the bottled water industry, corporation vs. small town type stuff.

"Muncipal water in this country is spectacularly underpriced-nationwide, about $2.50 for a thousand gallons. That consumers are willing to pay several thousand
Oct 20, 2011 David rated it liked it
Shelves: cask-wine
I find it amazing that in a country where water can be drunk out of a tap, and also from most streams away from towns and farms, people buy bottled water. A thought just occurred. We could radically help out the public sector by massively taxing bottled water at retail outlets by levying a 90% tax on water sold this way. If people are to lazy to go to a tap, or gullible enough, despite a stream of published research findings as to the lack of benefit in bottled water, then why not cash in on thi ...more
Dec 07, 2011 Connie rated it really liked it
Americans eat and drink on the run more than ever, and sales of bottled water are second only to soda. According to the author, an entire generation is growing up with the idea that drinking water comes in small plastic bottles. There is a large markup in price for bottled waters. A huge amount of energy is used to make the water bottles, fill them, truck them to the consumer, and haul away the empty bottles.

Elizabeth Royte investigated the dispute between Nestle, who owns the Poland Spring bran
Jul 28, 2011 Jen added it
Bottlemania offers information about the many cons and few pros of choosing bottled water over tap. Cons: Potentially draining the water supply for locals (where bottled water is taken) much faster than if everyone drank water from the nearest source; the extra water it takes to package bottled water; increased pollution and fuel consumption from transporting bottled water all over the country and world; increased trash in landfills; potentially less money for repairing and maintaining the infra ...more
Feb 11, 2009 Trena rated it really liked it
When I noticed the author's name on Bottlemania, I got a little worried. Elizabeth Royte's Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash was an ok book, but not an experience I wanted to repeat. However, I had ordered the book on ILL and figured I should give it a try before returning it.

Luckily, it turns out to be much better than Garbage Land. Again, the book is not as comprehensive as its title promises, but the part of the story of water that it tells is compelling and a little bit scary. Royte
Mar 26, 2011 Adam rated it liked it
I'm all about making profit; but whatever numbnuts came up with a plan to package and distribute the most basic of human needs should be slapped in the head with a case of their product... Actually who needs some sense knocked into them are those of us who are buying bottled water like crazy. Municipality controlled water supplies are fine for drinking; we could be using that and remain thankful that water is not traded on a commodities exchange...yet.
This "kitchen faucet is not for drinking" n
Aug 08, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it
Recommended to Sarah by: NPR
Using Nestle, bottler of Poland Spring, and the town of Fryeburg, Maine as an axis, Royte explores the history of bottled water and its rise in ubiquity throughout the 90's and early 00's. Royte doesn't hesitate to make clear her instinctive opposition to the hundreds of millions of bottles Nestle, Coke, and Pepsi churn out each year -- that's no surprise to anyone who's read her Garbage Land -- but she's neither extreme nor greener-than-thou. She's equally interested in exploring the state of t ...more
Jul 04, 2008 Iowill rated it it was amazing
Now I officially rank Poland Springs with Starbucks in the files of viral, insipid, conspiracies to sell shares of 'local' and/or privatize what should be universal.

Good read. Enjoy it with a fresh, icy cold glass of tap water.

A year after I read this book, and used it to teach several sections of undergraduate classes, my lovely and brilliant wife bought me a birthday present....a 'home carbonator', which allows me to use tap water (that has been filtered in a low-footprint way) to make quart a
Jun 26, 2008 John rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone concerned about our drinking water
This wasn't as good as Garbageland, but it was plenty good enough. The last time I went to my local supermarket, there was a sample table set up outside the entrance offering tastes of a new product - vitamin water formulated to attract kids. The whole point of the bottled water boom is how much money it makes for the people who sell it. Restaurants, for example, don't get as high a mark-up on anything else. Some noble souls in the business are bringing back tap water, but they're by far the min ...more
Jan 12, 2010 Kalyn rated it liked it
In this book, Elizabeth Royte goes deep to examine how bottled water became ubiquitous and what that means for people around that industry. She spent some time looking at tap water, its treatment and supply, but most of the focus in on the bottled water industry, specifically Poland Spring (Nestle). She goes to the town that supplies the water for Poland Spring and investigates the effects on the town and how it got to that point.

Royte investigates how we (as a society) got to this point, but I
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Elizabeth Royte is an American science/nature writer. She is best known for her books Garbage Land (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year 2005), The Tapir's Morning Bath: Solving the Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest (a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 2001), and Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It (a "Best of" or "Top 10" book of 2008 in Entertainment Weekly, ...more
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