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Meeting Erin Brockovich

Erin Brockovich

Kurt Potter: Wha... how did you do this?

Erin Brockovich: Well, um, seeing as how I have no brains or legal expertise, and Ed here was losing all faith in the system, am I right?

Ed Masry: Oh, yeah, completely. No faith, no faith...

Erin Brockovich: I just went out there and performed sexual favors. Six hundred and thirty-four blow jobs in five days... I'm really quite tired.

Erin Brockovich (2000)

On a recent Saturday I grumbled my way out of bed at 5am. I hate mornings, everyone who knows me can attest to my sheer hatred of everything early. However, there are a few things I will brace the cold morning air for: a Starbucks coffee giveaway (I wish), when the High Court is in Brisbane (law-nerd yay), an 8:30am exam (begrudgingly) and to meet someone I have always admired – Erin Brockovich.

I was that weird 9th grader that dressed as her for my ‘inspirational person day’ and nearly drove my parents crazy re-watching the film. So, I squealed like a 13-year-old girl at a Justin Bieber concert when I found out she was coming to Brisbane for a breakfast organised by the Queensland Law Society.

As excited as I was, my drive to South Bank was fraught with fear; what if my hero was not what I thought she would be? Fears unwarranted – she is amazing, even if the breakfast was a mini eco-war attack. When she spoke it was easy to see her desire to help people, and she kindly stayed back for two hours speaking to people and taking photos.

Most of her speech was connected to her current workings with the water crisis. I won’t explain it as well as she did but here it goes! Gladstone Harbour is experiencing the effects of poor waste management with every species of fish dying off and catching diseases not before experienced. This is impacting the fishing industry and will continue its harmful effects to the Great Barrier Reef. For Queensland that means tourism goes down and no more yummy fish on your table.

Erin used this as a bit of an “in” for her passion for the continuing support and advancement of water quality. As she repeatedly said, water is essential for human life. She went further to suggest contamination of water sources is a breach of international human rights – regardless of the fact our government refused to label it so.

The documentary teaser for Last Call at the Oasis was also shown to fellow breakfasters. This film exposes defects in the current system, shows communities already struggling with its ill-effects and highlights individuals championing revolutionary solutions. Firmly establishing the global water crisis as the central issue facing our world this century, the film posits that we can manage this problem if we act now.

I did not do this topic justice. When I walked out of that room I felt that little fire of anger inside me, the same fire which pushed me to law school. Maybe that is what I find so amazing about this woman – with little effort she fires nerdy law students into action. However, even if you are not going to be an environmental hero, hugging trees and picketing for change, I have five simple things you can do for a karma boost:

  1. Use reusable water bottles – saves money for the poor student pocket and the environment by decreasing wasted plastic.

  2. Use less water on your garden and lawn – More plants die from over-water then under watering. Buy native plants as they will attract wildlife and more accustomed to our climate. Also, for a few bucks, even from good old Big W, you can buy a run off hose to attach to your washing machine. Use eco-friendly chemicals and you’ll be doing the environment an even bigger favour.

  3. Don’t rinse your dishes under running water- Plug up that sink baby!

  4. Eat less red meat. Sorry my little carnivores, but it takes more than 6,800 litres of water to produce around half a kilogram of beef, more than three times that of chicken or pork, and exponentially more than vegetables

  5. Turn the tap off when you brush your teeth – If you brush your teeth twice a day, for two minutes each time, and leave the tap running, you could be wasting around 12 litres (or just over a bucket) of water a day. That's over 4,300 litres per person, per year.

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