Austin Schuver is the remarkable young man I mentioned in the last Earth Day Every Day entry, having met him for the first time Saturday at the Street Fair where he was giving taste tests of tap and bottled water to passers-by. Austin was promoting the showing of Tapped, an award-winning documentary which examines the unseen business behind bottled water, along with its impact on the community and the environment. The film will be shown at the Enumclaw High School auditorium, August 18, at 7 pm, and admission is free.
How, you may ask, is this special showing of Tapped being held in Enumclaw? That, too, is Austin's work. It started years ago (well, two) with an 8th-grade school project (Austin will be a 10th-grader at EHS this fall). After his Power Point presentation to fellow students, he pursued the subject beyond the classroom and has become an advocate for making the switch from the bottle to the tap. Now he has taken on the task of sharing what he has learned with our community. He hopes that individuals, businesses, organizations and other institutions will consider the issues involved and take steps to reduce or even eliminate their consumption of bottled water.
Austin's knowledge level, his commitment, his organizational skills, and his results to date are impressive. He has written advocacy letters, secured the film and space to show it, rented and staffed his booth at the Street Fair, and is now distributing posters about the showing. He has managed to gain sponsorships for his work from Mutual of Enumclaw, Helac and Rotary. Austin's approach is respectful of other points of view, while seriously questioning and challenging the status quo of bottled water consumption in our community.
So--I am writing in support of Austin and his work to anybody who is interested in water issues...or who could become interested in water issues...or who really isn't/couldn't, but might read this anyhow... (special thanks if you're in group 3).
Most of us have drunk bottled water and many do drink it regularly or occasionally. We have, or have had, good reasons for making this choice. Certainly, some who drink bottled water live or travel where the water source is undependable or brackish and unhealthy. For the rest of us, well, it's convenient. It's an alternative to soda. It's low-calorie. Very low. (Like a thermos of tap water--but skip that for now.) Also, some of us used to believe that bottled water all came from pure mountain springs.
But we have more sources of information than we used to have about bottled water and the industry built around it. If we gather that information together and evaluate it, some of us are going to make choices going forward based on what we have learned and what is important to us. Tapped gives the back-story to why many are now choosing to go back to the tap.
The film deals with many issues around water, including privatization, pollution, safety and health. It may be of special interest to those who followed Nestle's pursuit of our local water supply a few years ago, and to many who are concerned about the privatization of water rights elsewhere in the US and around the world. Waste from the bottled-water industry is a tremendous issue worldwide--Americans alone use 2,500,000 plastic bottles every hour, and 80% of those bottles are not recycled. Other considerations are the health and safety issues around consumables stored in some plastics (an issue extending beyond bottled water). Tapped deals with all this and more.
John and I appreciate Austin's concern for our community and our world, and the hard work he has put into making this film available locally. We will be supporting his efforts, and hope you will join us by attending the film event and encouraging others to as well. August 18--save the date.