ErinTORONTO – Erin Brockovich -- the real one, not the movie version that earned Julia Roberts an Oscar -- wants consumers to put down the bottle and turn on the tap.

"Bottled water is expensive," Brockovich told The Price of Fame at the Toronto International Film Festival. "[People] can save money by not buying as much bottled water and maybe investing in a good filter for the house." (Brockovich is still looking for a filter to endorse.)

Americans spend an average of $100 a year per person on bottled water, according to published figures. That means the average family of four is shelling out $400 for a drink that is less regulated and no safer than what flows out of the faucet for less than a penny a gallon, spouts the festival documentary Last Call at the Oasis, in which Brockovich appears. And get this: 45% of bottled water is tap water, director Jessica Yu's film asserts.

That's just the tip of the melting iceberg for our water woes. The liquid that covers 70% of our planet is getting contaminated in all sorts of ways, the film points out. We shouldn't expect the desalination of seawater to slake humanity's collective thirst, either. It's costly and presents its own ecological challenges.

But for the majority of us Westerners living in municipalities, the water in the system is relatively safe, Brockovich said. (Much of her crusading is aimed at warning people about the dangers of contaminated well water.) Bottled water in general is not a healthier alternative to the kitchen spigot. So turn on the faucet and turn off the fancy commercials trying to win you with mountain-spring Madison Avenue manure.

Water bottlers make between $50 billion and $100 billion a year, and their profits are climbing 7% annually, according to reports. Bottled water now costs an average of $3 a gallon, and we don't even have to rely on OPEC to keep it flowing. And as bad as the money we waste, we're also guzzling the stuff at a rate that is choking landfills with 2 million tons of plastic a year, according to

Granted, discussing the evils of bottled water at a celebrity-packed film festival is like railing against hot dogs at a baseball game. But Brockovich, the still-brassy 51-year-old blonde, is ready to talk up her cause anywhere. She's been on H2O watch ever since she started calling out power company PG&E for its water-poisoning ways in a 1993 lawsuit on behalf of the cancer-stricken citizens of Hinkley, Calif. The $333 million settlement in 1996 set a record at the time, and the case inspired the hit 2000 drama Erin Brockovich, turning the real-life heroine into a household name. "Celebrity clout can keep people informed," Brockovich said.

The activist reassured us that there are times when drinking bottled water is OK: On a long plane flight, during a disaster where the public supply is compromised, or when you're in a region where other potable resources aren't available.

But overall, cutting back on bottled water is a smart move -- for your budget and for the community as a whole.

"If we're not careful here, all water is going to be privatized, and it's going to be a commodity," Brockovich said. "And it's going to be traded. What we'll be facing is that those without money won't get water. It's a human right to drink water."

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Not all tap waters are safe to drink at least not here in Chancellor AL.Sometimes(I said "sometimes") our wash is very stained ,I can't imagen drinking this slush !We HAVE to put on a filter and ,yes, we can fill up our waterbottles if we go somewhere ,but having no bottles to throw out would be helpful in keeping everything simple ,,,like it it used to be ..simple !!!.
I am with you ,to be able to drink tap water, it would be a blessing!!
Have a clear day .!!

March 21 2012 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Regardless of what Erin says - buying a tray of 24 water bottles is just ridicules because tap water is just fine in most north America. If its not - you buy a Brita filter and you filter your drinking water and it tastes pretty good from a Brita filter. I like how some people complain that there are no drinking water stations around the city to drink from. How about you fill up your bottles at home and take it with you ?? I dont see a problem with that. When the bottle starts to stink, you throw it away ( takes about a month for it to really start to stink) So i think 12 bottles a year should last one person.

September 17 2011 at 8:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

If tap water didnt taste so bad, I would drink it. I dont care if my bottled water comes from a tap, it was definatly not MY tap, because it tastes much better.

September 15 2011 at 11:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

She is a paid spokesperson for a tap filter, duh?? She does commercials for that on television and yet this writer portrays this as though its a crusade??? She is paid to say what she says.

September 15 2011 at 6:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love my bottled water, and it is not all tap water. If I lived in a place where the water was pure and tasted great, I would drink tap water. But I live in Michigan where it taste like the lake.
There are places like Kentucky where mercury has shown up in the drinking water. There are often "boil your water" days. I do Ice Mountain and I love it!
However, I don't buy sodas so the land fill is not getting those containers from me. In some countries they make the bottles collapsible, so when your done you squish them down to an inch or so. We should do that!
It is no ones business how I spend my money!

September 15 2011 at 2:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked the Julia Roberts Erin Brockowich better.

September 15 2011 at 2:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I'd love to drink less bottled water, but any more, in public places, there are no public drinking fountains! Amusement parks, department stores and every other company have figured out they can charge you for bottled water, so many have shut off their drinking fountains or stopped maintaining them so they are nasty. And, many ban bringing "food or beverages" from outside sources into their establishment, so you can't bring your own container of tap water in either. I think Miss Brockovich is a little late on the commoditization of drinking water.

September 15 2011 at 1:48 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I always think that people who buy bottled water in the USA are stupid. It is bottled tap water, you idiot.

September 15 2011 at 1:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought her 5 minutes of fame was up.

September 15 2011 at 1:19 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply

She should start a campaign against fake (plastic) boobs which one day will end up in our landfills.

September 15 2011 at 1:05 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
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September 15 2011 at 2:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply