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Documentary Film on Bottled Water

Updated on April 28, 2011

When you buy a bottle water, do you have much thought about it?  Well after watching this film "Tapped", you will.

The film won best documentary in 2009 at Anchorage International Film Festival and Eugene International Film Festival and is available on DVD on Amazon.

Water is in Demand

The film starts off with a bold statement ...

"By the year 2030, two thirds of the world will be lacking access to clean drinking water."

This may sound hard to believe if you're in the Europe or in the United States. But in many parts of the world, children are dying due to no access to clean drinking water.

Although 70% of the Earth's surface is covered by water, only 3% of that is freshwater. Because most of that freshwater is locked up in icecaps. Only about 1% of Earth's water is accessible to human use. [4][5]

India water demand is set to double by 2030.[1] tracking of water consumption says that the demand for fresh water is increasing by 64 billion cubic a year.[2]

Some say that water demand may grow to become bigger than oil demand.[3]

Bottled Water More Expensive than Gas

In many areas, bottled water is already more expensive than gas.  Assuming that you are buying those hand-held tiny 16.9 fluid ounce bottle waters, the price for that tiny bottle of water is equivalent to over $11 per gallon.

The irony that it takes oil to make bottle water. Oil refinery makes a base component that is to become the plastic of the bottle. Then oil is needed to transport the bottles to the stores. And then more energy is required to recycle that bottle.

Recylcing Bottled Water

Speaking of recycling...  After watching this film, you will want to make sure you recycle the bottle.

The bottle is 100% recyclable.  However people are not recycling it (perhaps is not convenient enough, etc).   An easy way to recycle it is at curbside at your home.   But 50% of the people in the United States do not have to curbside recycling pickup. 

Some states have a bottle bill which encourages recycling.

Environmental Impacts of Bottled Water

The film talks about the environmental impact of bottled water and how the plastic can contaminate the environment.

When bottles are littered and not recycled, it gets into our streams and oceans when it rains. The film shows us one beach where its sand has intermixed in it lots of tiny bits of plastic.

Then it takes us to the North Pacific Gyre in middle of the ocean. Water sampled there shows more plastic than plankton. Sometimes up to 46 times more. And these plastics are like poison pills to the marine life. Bits of plastic have been found inside of dead marine animals.

Of course not all of these bits of plastic in the North Pacific Gyre is caused by the United States. After all it is in the middle of the ocean, so other country contributes to the problem.

But guess what? Other countries are doing better than the United States at recycling.  See how countries compare here.

The film also explains how pharmaceuticals can end up in all water.

Alternatives to Bottled Water

Sure is convenient to be able to carry water around with you. But you can do so by filling your own reusable bottle from tap water.  If you prefer, you can filter your tap water first with a filter pitcher or a home water filter.  See page 178 -179 of Reader's Digest Your Health, What Works, What Doesn't to learn about the different types of home filters.  Home filters (including pitchers) are effective.

After all 40% of bottled water is just filtered tap water. Yes, it's true. says so too. Next time, read the fine print on the bottle. Some may tell you, but some may not.

But don't buy re-usable bottles containing BPA (Bisphenol A). In the film you will see an expert that will explain to you that dangers of BPA. See article Which Water Bottle Are Safe.

Bottled Water Not Better Than Tap

Bottled water may or may not be safer than municipal tap water. The former is virtually unregulated. And the latter is highly regulated and tested regularly. The film also tests samples of bottled water. And you might be surprised with what they found in them.

The book "Your Health, What Works, What Doesn't" by Reader's Digest says ...

"Bottled water is no cleaner or safer than the H2O from your faucet. The main difference: It cost much more. ... If you care about the well-being of the planet, it's hard to justify buying water in bottles." (page 107) [8]

Here, we are talking about the tap water in the United States.  Granted, there are some rare pockets of local communities (as shown in the film) where they have to drink from bottled water because the tap water is not adequately clean. And it is true that in some countries in the world, bottled water would be better than tap water. 

Aging Infrastructure

In some parts of the United States, the aging municipal water infrastructure is starting to fail and is in need of reinvestment.  The idea of privatizing the water system have been floated around in the past.   The film shows experts who gave compelling reasons why privatization is not a good idea.  They point to Atlanta as a example of a city that privatize their water system.  It later turned out to be a disaster.  Read what happened to Atlanta.

The interest of corporations is to make a profit rather than to do what's good for the community.  The film shows a sign that says "There is enough water for human, but not enough for human greed."   It is an adaptation of a quote by Mahatma Gandhi which actually says "Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed"[7]


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