CHAPTER 2

Quantifying the Resource, Environmental, and Social Impact

A Bottle of Water: Clear with a Trail of Black

The water flows from natural springs in Indonesia through a pipeline to a pumping station. Ships carry it to Thailand, where a processing plant sterilizes, mineralizes, and filters it in multiple phases to produce high-quality potable water. A Chinese plant manufactures plastic bottles from polymer chemicals, and ships blown, washed, filled, dried, and labeled bottles to Thailand. After bottling in Thailand, the bottled water is shipped to Los Angeles and railed across the country to New York, where Joe Smith drinks a bottle at the deli with his lunch.

Compared to drinking water from a tap or from a nearby source, it is hard to ...

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