Review: Tapped

directed by Stephanie Soechtig | reviewed by Lee Stabert

Screening as part of Ambler Theater’s Pennypack Sustainability Series on February 9. For information and tickets, visit amblertheater.org or call 215-345-7855

In recent years, bottled water has become something to avoid for sustainability-minded consumers. But after watching Tapped, you might be tempted to go beyond a sigh and a sneer, and slap that horrific hazard right out of the hands of the next drinker you meet.

The documentary, produced and directed by Stephanie Soechtig, makes a compelling case for bottled water as an environmental and public health abomination—a scam perpetuated on the public that not only destroys and pollutes our natural resources but actually makes us sick. From small town Maine, where townspeople fight Poland Spring (owned by Nestle) for a right to their water, to drought-ravaged Georgia, where the governor asks citizens to pray for rain while Coca-Cola’s bottling factories continue to suck water from streams and rivers, to Corpus Christi, Texas, where citizens live next to an oil refinery responsible for producing a large percentage of the nation’s clear plastic bottles and suffer illness and birth defects at a terrifying rate, the film successfully argues that corporate interests continually trump public good in this multi-billion dollar industry.

As is the case with many documentaries, the filmmakers are a bit over-enamored with their iconic images—clear mountain springs, bottling factories, polluted waters, industrial exteriors and discarded bottles—but the experts they’ve assembled, from environmental justice advocates to politicians to scientists, are so impressive and convincing that it’s easy to forgive. (There are also plenty of squirmy gotcha moments from paid bottled water lobbyists.) Less easy to forgive is the obliviousness of the FDA to pollutants in bottled water and toxins in commercial plastics.

This film is also a bit of a love letter to good old fashioned municipal tap water. It’s cheap and clean—and doesn’t pollute or put money in the pockets of corporate behemoths. Drink up.

For more on Tapped, visit tappedthemovie.com.