With a constant supply of fresh water at their fingertips via fountains and faucets, why are so many American consumers hooked on bottled water?
In Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It, this year's selection for the Common Reading Program, environmental journalist Elizabeth Royte explores the staggering popularity of bottled water, the multi-billion-dollar industry that supports it and the building backlash against it.
In the book, one of Entertainment Weekly's 10 "Must Read" nonfiction titles of 2008, Royte travels to Fryeburg, Maine, home of Poland Spring water. In this small town and other 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 natural resources and dumps tons of plastic waste into the country's landfills.
Moving beyond the environmental consequences of making, filling, transporting and landfilling those billions of bottles, Royte examines the state of tap water today and the social impact of corporations sinking ever more pumps into rural towns.
Ultimately, Bottlemania makes a case for protecting public water supplies, for improving our water infrastructure and better allocating the precious drinkable water that remains.
Acclaimed author of Garbage Land: On the Secret Trail of Trash, Elizabeth Royte's writing on science and the environment has appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker, National Geographic, Outside, The New York Times Magazine and other national publications. A former Alicia Patterson Foundation fellow and recipient of Bard College's John Dewey Award for Distinguished Public Service, Royte is a frequent contributor to the New York Times Book Review, a contributing editor for OnEarth, and a correspondent for Outside magazine. Her work is included in The Best American Science Writing 2004, and her first book, The Tapir's Morning Bath: Solving the Mysteries of the Tropical Rain Forest, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year for 2001.
The Common Reading Program was started in 2002 for first-year students, who are asked to read the selection before the start of the academic year. The assigned book then serves as a basis for programs and discussions beginning at orientation and throughout the year. As the featured author for the 2010 Common Reading selection, Royte will deliver the keynote address at Case Western Reserve University's fall convocation, which will be held on Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010.
Learn more about the Common Reading program.
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