“I do spend some of my time on bottled water… but I have other responsibilities as well,” says Lauren Robin, the one employee at the FDA in charge of ensuring that the bottled water industry meets federal safety guidelines. But since 60-70% of bottled water is produced and sold within state lines, the FDA has no jurisdiction to regulate the safety of bottled water anyway. This snippet of information alone is enough to make viewers stop and think about the safety of bottled water. And considering that this section of Tapped (a new documentary from the producers of Who Killed the Electric Car?)  comprises only about 60 seconds of the entire 76-minute film, it’s fairly clear that it makes a strong case against the bottled water industry. And lest conservatives protest, this is no “liberal” screed. Filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig cut her teeth working on “The O’Reilly Factor”, Bill O’Reilly’s nightly conservative platform. Whether that makes her a more reliable story-teller or not is up to viewers, but she certainly learned a thing or two about framing questions to cause a stir.

“If I had known you were going to talk about that… probably wouldn’t have given you the interview,” says FDA Press Officer Mike Herndon, when asked about BPA. Among other topics, the trouble with BPA is covered extensively.  In fact, Soechtig’s film takes on the bottled water industry from all angles – poor government regulation, lack of safety measures, corporate greed, environmental destruction, human illness… the list goes on. But if nothing else affects those watching, a visit to Kamilo Beach – a polluted beach on the southeast coast of the island of Hawaii – should be enough to turn people off of plastic containers. One activist describes how this beach is where plastic eventually ends up when it’s thrown in a landfill and it’s easy to believe him when looking at the amount of plastic in the water and washed up on the beach. Unfortunately, the immediate follow-up is a discussion of the Eastern Garbage Patch (a collection of garbage twice the size of Texas). While this should be an even more devastating moment in the film, Soechtig takes away the impact by choosing to repeat a less than impressive shot – an underwhelming clip of a single water bottle on the bottom of the ocean. It’s an unfortunate choice and detracts from the strong evidence for plastic waste polluting the ocean that the interviewee is presenting.

The film wraps up on a positive note with MGMT’s “Kids”  and Flaming Lips’ “The W.A.N.D” providing energetic and powerful back-up to a montage of citizens taking action against bottled water. As Wayne Coyne proclaims “We’ve got the power now mother-fuckers, that’s where it belongs” it’s more than evident that this is an issue that can (and should) be addressed at the individual level. Whether Tapped truly gives all viewers enough information as it could is a question that’s left a bit open in the closing credits. In the same way that the book Fast Food Nation stopped my fast food consumption immediately, Tapped has made enough of an impression on me to stop me from buying bottled water in the future.

Zach’s Rating: B
Perfect For: Those willing to change their consumption habits
Stay Away if: You’d like to be able to continue drinking bottled water

To purchase Tapped, visit Amazon

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