The negative environmental impacts of bottled water are well-known. In the United States, 29 billion
bottles of water are purchased every year. All of that plastic is made with petroleum (a small percentage is made from recycled content plastic) and tragically little of it is recycled (only 12 percent
). And then there is the long-distance shipping of water around the globe, not the best strategy given the current climate crisis.
But that is only the very beginning. Director Stephanie Soechitg dove into the dark underworld of the plastic bottled industry to expose its many public health repercussions and nefarious politics which in some cases pulls communities apart. Her film, Tapped, world premiered this month and will be traveling to several film festivals this year.
The filmmakers had eight of the biggest brands in bottled water tested and found in some cases that the pristine-looking liquid contained a toxic cocktail of everything from arsenic to radioactive compounds and the deadly carcinogenic compound BPA, which leaches out of the plastic.
But above and beyond the environmental and human health impacts is the broader issue of the privitization of the very source of life. "Water is the next empire" -- the film's bold statement which seems far-fetched until one examines the strategic takeover of public surface water rights by multinational corporations around the globe.
If the trailer is any indication this will be an exciting and groundbreaking film, perhaps doing for H20 what Al did for CO2. It also may be karmic payback for Soechitg, who had the dubious credential of having produced the Bill O'Reilly Show (we absolve you of your sins Stephanie). Her statement:
Not only are we in a water crisis in which 2/3 of the planet will be without drinkable water in just 11 years, but multinational corporations are literally pillaging communities around the country for this precious resource and bottling into the very bottles, which contribute the plastic soup in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Consequently, we decided we wanted to do to bottled water what Al Gore did for energy efficient light bulbs – inspire people to make small changes and minor sacrifices that make a big impact.
I am somewhat conflicted on the subject, being a Los Angeles resident. L.A. municipal water, while not the worst in the country contains many unhealthy contaminants (check out the NRDC study
). I had a filter and used a reusable bottle until my doctor discovered that my recurring strep throat infections were due to my eco-friendly water habit. Many, like me, switched to the big 5-gallon jugs. But trust me, you will cancel your order when you see this film.
It will be interesting if Tapped can change our behaviors. I hope so, but I also hope that the film's website does a better job than the Inconvenient Truth website at educating the public on healthy (and affordable) options.