We should have had an inkling, two decades ago, that bottled water wasn’t all that when it turned out that bottles of Perrier contained the chemical benzene.

But we didn’t learn our lesson, and in the intervening years, we became a nation of water-bottle addicts, rarely seen on city streets without a plastic bottle in hand. But in the last couple of years, bottled water has started to take on a sinister cast. Its plastic packaging and the energy expended to ship it around the world are bad for the environment. Big companies are ripping us off by selling us tap water.

Elizabeth Royte recaps how we fell in love and then out of love with bottled water in her new book Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It. Over at Salon, Katharine Mieszkowski interviews Royte and teases out the highlights of her book, including why “ethical water” is so insidious, how many of those recyclable bottles really do get recycled (too damn few), and what to do about pharmaceuticals in our watershed (two words: reverse osmosis).

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