When you grab a bottle of water, have you ever stopped to think about how the massive bottled water industry was born?
Bottled Water’s Roots
The practice of bottling water for sale goes all the way back to 1622 in the Malvern Hills north of London in the U.K. In a valley of granite substrate, the Holy Well bottling plant was born. Water coming up through cracks in the stone was thought to have healing properties, so it was captured in glass bottles and sold across the country.
Poet Robert Bloomfield wrote of the restorative Holy Well: “Boast, Malvern, that thy springs revive, the drooping patient, scarce alive, where as he gathers strength to toil, not e’en they heights his spirits foil.”
Holy Well water was sold for centuries, and the popularity of bottled water soared after German- Swiss Johann Jacob Schweppe began successfully selling carbonated spring water in Geneva, Switzerland, in the late 1700s. Bottled water lost popularity after an English doctor named Alexander Houston used chlorine to kill bacteria in 1905, ending the typhoid epidemic.
But bottled water was revived thanks to the invention of PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic by Nathaniel C. Wyeth, a DuPont engineer. This plastic could be fashioned into lightweight and sturdy bottles, the perfect size for the cold drink of water you grab at the store.
Holy Well Today
Americans today consume billions of gallons of bottled water. Interestingly, you can travel back in time and enjoy water like that first bottled at Holy Well. The plant was purchased and restored in 2009 and is back in production.