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The Story of Bottled Water

March 26, 2010

Let’s raise a glass of tasty tap water to toast Annie Leonard for producing another informative, entertaining and accessible video, The Story of Bottled Water (watch it free on the web).

Fresh from an appearance on the Stephen Colbert show where she announced the publication of the print edition of The Story of Stuff (available here from Hesperian), Annie Leonard launched The Story of Bottled Water, which gives a short, 7-minute look at the bottled water business and its success in duping people in the US into buying a half a billion bottles a week of what is essentially tap water, but at a price that is roughly two thousand times higher.

The video also looks at the mountains of plastic waste the industry generates, not nearly as pretty a sight as the snow-capped peaks gracing the labels on the water bottles.

Although outside the scope of the video, it’s important to remember that the establishment of public water systems and the mass distribution of potable water (along with the development of sanitary waste systems) have historically given the biggest boost to people’s health across the globe. In the US, life expectancy was extended by 50-60% mainly because of public water, overshadowing the next big boost to public health – the (mostly publicly funded) research that developed antibiotics.

In 2007, Hesperian decided to start using tap water to boycott Nestle – and because we didn’t want to support the bottled water industry. Read more about that decision here.

For more information on bottled water and the corporate attempt to replace people’s right to water by privatizing it, check out these books:

Bottled and Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water, Peter H. Gleick, 2010

Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It, Elizabeth Royte, 2008

Blue Covenant: The Global Water Crisis and the Coming Battle for the Right to Water, Maude Barlow, 2007

Blue Gold: The Fight to Stop the Theft of the World’s Water, Maude Barlow, 2002

Inside the Bottle: Exposing the Bottled Water Industry, Tony Clarke, 2005

Reclaiming Public Water book: Achievements, Struggles and Visions from Around the World, Brennan, Hoedeman, Terhorst, Kishimoto, 2005