An Environmental History of the Real Thing
Bartow J. Elmore, October 2015
“Seven years ago, I set out to write a history of how the Real Thing, Coca-Cola, affected real ecologies in the real world. What drew me to the project was the sheer ubiquity of this firm that started in my hometown, Atlanta, Georgia. Here was a company that operated in over 200 countries in 2015, consumed roughly 79 billion gallons of water at its bottling plants that year alone, bought more processed caffeine than any other business by the 1950s, was the single largest consumer of Peruvian coca leaves in the United States, and was the largest industrial user of sugar on the planet as early as the 1910s. In other words, here was a business with a massive environmental footprint, and I wanted to know what its growth portended for the ecological health of the communities in which it operated.
“A central question drove my research…” continue.