All Bottled Up

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Elizabeth Royte, author of Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It, talks about the environmental consequences of bottling water, the hazards of plastic drinking bottles, and the state of tap water today.

Event: Elizabeth Royte will be reading tonight at 6pm at The Tank, 279 Church Street between Franklin and White Streets.


Elizabeth Royte

Comments [32]

Elizabeth Royte from Brooklyn

I was the guest on this segment - thanks for all the great comments and questions. I've responded to most of them on my website,

Jun. 01 2008 09:52 AM
KRB from NYC

#22 What makes you think there is a corporate relationship b/w Brita and Nalgene?

According to a quick web search, Nalgene is owned by Thermo Fisher Scientific and Brita is owned by the Clorox Co.

Is there another source which linked the two?

I've searched Brita's website and it specifically says that its pitchers do NOT contain BPA.

May. 21 2008 02:19 PM
Marty Wolfe from Brooklyn

Interesting Factoid: NYC water, all of it that comes from the upstate reservoirs, contains copepods (small shrimp). The little creatures - visible to the eye, I've seen them - live in the reservoirs, and make it to your tap. NYC does not have any filtration system because all the water comes from controlled reservoirs. The chlorine kills the copepods before they get to the tap, and getting shaken around in the pipes might break them into a couple of pieces, but they're there. I have a filter on my sink made of fibers, and it needs replacement at least once a day.

May. 21 2008 11:57 AM
hjs from 11211

Jennifer h
yes buy glass, just to be on the safe side!

May. 21 2008 11:51 AM

fyi peeps cancer can take 20-30 years to develop so no extra limbs from unpure water does not equal safe (unless you are presently 90 yo)...

May. 21 2008 11:51 AM
Natalie from Staten Island

I'm glad that Elizabeth mentioned that while the FDA regulates this stuff, the FDA GETS ITS INFORMATION FROM THE INDUSTRY. This is the case throughout every industry the FDA "regulates". Most people have the notion they're protected because the FDA has tested things and determined them to be safe. NOT SO. The FDA simply evaluates the info presented to them by various industries. It means if an industry is being nebulous about issues, then we are all in the dark. Bottom line: CAVEAT EMPTOR!

May. 21 2008 11:51 AM
x baczewska from nyc

we are so fortunate to live in a place with free, clean, good-tasting water--unlike in much of the world where disease-free water, or just water itself is at a premium or difficult to come by.

it seems like a slap in the face to fate, or the universe to reject this wonderful resource in favor of the bottle.

we should applaud our NY Tap (which is how i order it in restaurants). we could always donate what we'd spend on bottled to water purification efforts somewhere else!

May. 21 2008 11:45 AM
burtnor from upper west side

Ana -- bottled water often IS tap water. There is no regulation of what can be put into the bottle, what it can be called, or how it must be tested.
Of course, there is also the issue of energy used in transporting the water to and from bottlers and distributors, as well as the issues about the plastics. Tell her to use a Brita filter system with water from the tap.

May. 21 2008 11:45 AM
Justin from New York, NY

I work at a law firm in Manhattan where all of our water coolers are made from hard plastic #7, which an email to Deer Park customer service confirmed contains BPA.

The firm has considered phasing out bottled water to be more "green," but the BPA in the water cooler jugs creates a real snag in this plan

May. 21 2008 11:45 AM
jen from brooklyn

Hate to say but I find Evian & other minerally-tasting waters (like San Benedetto) simply more delicious. Hence--I consume more water. Wonder if there's a way to infuse tap water with extra minerals...

May. 21 2008 11:44 AM
World's Toughest Milkman from the_C_train

Nalgene owns Britta (or vice versa). Also nalgene is a brand that makes many different types of bottles. I have a few soft #2 UVPE that are safe, but have to say there is an odor now and then.

LA tap water is fkn AWFUL, and San Diego is doing "toilet to Tap" processing.

May. 21 2008 11:44 AM
ch from NJ

Concerns about manganese should not be brushed aside so quickly....

May. 21 2008 11:43 AM
Jennifer H from NYC

I have a 7 month old baby - he drinks from plastic bottles that we boil to sterilize - is this a problem??


May. 21 2008 11:42 AM
Ana from Summit, NJ

My mom keeps insisting that the bottled water is healthier and tastes better and uses it to drink AND can I convince her otherwise? Where can I get her water tested? She lives in a senior citizen building in Summit, NJ.

May. 21 2008 11:41 AM
amt230 from BKLYN

I live in Ft. Greene, and use a Brita filtration system. I haven't grown an extra limb yet, and actually prefer the taste of filtered tap to bottled. However, I've recently noticed the water from my taps having a strong odor of bleech. Anyone else experiencing the same? Any explanations?

May. 21 2008 11:41 AM
Sacha Dunn from Upstate NY

Do very hard plastic bottles (like baby's bottles) and out door glasses and pitchers have these chemicals too?


May. 21 2008 11:41 AM
S Barras from Astoria

Does Ms. Royte look into the older history of bottled water in this country? I'm thinking of the 19th century when most civic water systems weren't potable, and were meant to be used for washing and fire-control. This is still true in a lot of the developing world.

Of course poorer people, (in the developing world, the nineteen century and even here in NY,) don't have the option of spending money on water that they could get free or cheap. It is a mark of our progress that here in most part of the US, that public water supply is mostly safe.

May. 21 2008 11:40 AM
Gaines Hubbell from Knoxville, TN

What about well water? We drink bottled water almost exclusively in my household because we have a contaminated well, but I know that may not be the case for everyone. At any rate, which is cleaner? (Uncontaminated) well water or bottled water?

May. 21 2008 11:39 AM
burtnor from upper west side

If you must carry water around, Klean Kanteen seems to be the safest container (biologically inert stainless steel, no ceramic liner to crack and chip - $15 at Amazon). It has a large mouth so you can add ice cubes, and you can insulate it for cold or heat retention with a cool looking Built NY insulator ($10 at Amazon).

May. 21 2008 11:38 AM
D from South Williamsburg

Can you ask about the difference between bpa vs hdpe?

Thanks Brian!

May. 21 2008 11:36 AM
Michal from brooklyn

So there's BPA in tap water because it covers water pipes? really?

Can we get clarity on that?

May. 21 2008 11:35 AM
Seth from Astoria

I work in a bar and we serve small bottles of water for the non-alcohol drinkers. I was having one the other day and noticed the water was bottled in the end of 2005, and should be consumed by the end of 2008. We just got this shipment in (with it's NEW bottle design). This water sits somewhere in a bottle for years before we consume it. It's Fresh? I wont say the name of the water, but spelled backwards it is naivE.

May. 21 2008 11:35 AM
Robert from NYC

At 5'6" do I fall into that smaller persons category?

May. 21 2008 11:34 AM
jen from brooklyn

What about Europe? Everyone in Italy drinks bottled water. I have an Italian water habit (San Benedetto)...

May. 21 2008 11:34 AM
Carlo Altomare from Manhattan

What about Britta filter plastic containers?

May. 21 2008 11:34 AM
veronica from manhattan

Evian is spelled backward is naive.

May. 21 2008 11:31 AM
hjs from 11211

people don't seem to know several water bottlers just use tap water. Dasani is one that uses NYC tap water. great for business sell something u get for free. boy we are dumb!

May. 21 2008 11:24 AM
Richard Walker from San Francisco

"As a San Franciscan, I'm aware we flush pristine Sierra water down the toilet. I'm also aware that in many European cities tap water is non-potable. This just adds to the fine irony of seeing someone proudly ordering branded water or throwing away a Fiji water bottle. If Fiji water is the Hummer of waters, Aqua Colbert has to be the personal jetXXX Boeing 777"

May. 21 2008 10:37 AM
Jim T. from N.J.

We had concerns about our town water supply and were buying bottled water. We saw a TV ad and bought an under the counter multi-stage filtration system from They came in and installed it in about an hour.We were happy to not be putting plastic into the environment and the bottling company had been charging us a fuel surcharge for the past year. Can you ask your guest about these "RO" systems and if they help environmentally?

May. 21 2008 10:15 AM

Which has less steroids and pharmaceuticals, Poland Springs or NYC Tap?

Is this even tested? If not, wouldn't that be the place to start in terms of deciding whether to use tap or bottled?

May. 21 2008 10:12 AM
chestinee from Midtown

Bottle question: are blue plastic bottles safer or is this an urban myth?

On recycling, but off the bottle subject - I would also love to see NYC backing the use of table scraps to make compost - to sell, even, or donate to local farmers to use as fertilizer. That keeps more out of the landfills an maybe saves taxes?

May. 21 2008 09:55 AM
j from nyc

a woman from lower east side recycling center told me last year that they were working with city council here in nyc on how to increase recycling, because about %20 of coop taxes paid here go to sanitation charges overall.

obviously recycling is a way to cut taxes if more people would do it. Any idea how much recycling water bottles would contribute to plastic bottle recycling, since the bottling industry has fought so hard against this specifically?

and yes, recycling=cutting taxes.

May. 21 2008 12:29 AM

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