In just four decades, bottled water has transformed from a luxury niche item into a ubiquitous consumer product, representing a $300 billion market dominated by global corporations. It sits at the convergence of a mounting ecological crisis of single-use plastic waste and climate change, a social crisis of affordable access to safe drinking water, and a struggle over the fate of public water systems.
Justin Mog from WFMP-LP Louisville, KY (Forward Radio), opens the tap for a much-needed conversation with Dr. Daniel Jaffee, author of the brand new book, “Unbottled: The Fight against Plastic Water and for Water Justice.”
Unbottled examines the vibrant movements that have emerged to question the need for bottled water and challenge its growth in North America and worldwide. Drawing on extensive interviews with activists, residents, public officials, and other participants in controversies ranging from bottled water’s role in unsafe tap water crises to groundwater extraction for bottling in rural communities, Dan Jaffee asks what this commodity’s meteoric growth means for social inequality, sustainability, and the human right to water. Unbottled profiles campaigns to reclaim the tap and addresses the challenges of ending dependence on packaged water in places where safe water is not widely accessible. Clear and compelling, it assesses the prospects for the movements fighting plastic water and working to ensure water justice for all.
Dan Jaffee is an environmental and rural sociologist, and Associate Professor of Sociology at Portland State University. He has published a number of articles and book chapters on water commodification and on social conflicts around bottled water. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2006.