Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Rethinking Your Bottled Water

Today is Wednesday, November 20, 2013.

If you had to choose one or the other, would you consider water a "need" or a "right"?  

Be careful with this one, because the question is trickier than you think.  If you said it is a "need," you would be correct, because human life cannot exist without water.  But many of us, myself included, would say it is both.  Remember, however, that I said you could choose only one, not both.  There's a reason for this: when the question came up back in 2000 at the World Water Forum, it was hotly debated by some of the world's largest corporations, including Nestlé.  What do you think the president of the Nestlé company said?  

He wanted to call it a "need," but not a "right."  You see where this is going, don't you?  He's got his customers in his pocket.  He's telling them, "You need what we're selling, but you don't have the right to it for free.  You will have to buy it from us."  At that conference 13 years ago, water was, indeed, defined as a "need," and that's why the president of the company tells people that they have no "rights" to water.

Do you drink Nestlé Pure Life bottled water?  Or do you drink one of the many other brands produced by the same company?  You don't think so, you say?  If you drink any of the following, you are drinking water produced by Nestlé or a subsidiary of Nestlé.  

The list includes Acqua Panna, Al Manhal,  Alaçam, Aqua Spring, Arrowhead, Baraka, Buxton, Cachaantun, Calistoga, Carola, Contrex, Charmoise, Ciego Montero, Cristalp, Da Shan YunNan Spring, Dar Natury, Deep Spring, Deer Park, Eco de los Andes, Erikli, Frische Brise, Fürst Bismarck, Gerber, Ghadeer, Glaciar, Henniez, Hépar, Ice Mountain, Klosterqulle, Korpi, La Vie, Levissima, Los Portales, Minéré, Montclair, Naleczowianka, Nestlé Aquarel, Nestlé Pure Life, Nestlé Selda, Nestlé Vera, Nestlé Wellness, Neuselters, Ozarka, Pejo, Perrier, Petropolis, Plancoët, Poland Spring, Porvenir, Quézac, Recoaro, S. Pellegrino, S. Bernardo, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, San Narciso, Sainte-Alix, Saint-Lambert, Sohat, Springs, Theodora, Valvert, Viladrau, Vittel, Water Line, and Zephyrhills.
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My brand is Ice Mountain, and I thought it had nothing to do with Nestlé.  In fact, I was congratulating myself that I wasn't drinking Dasani, bottled by the CocaCola Company, or Aquafina, bottled by PepsiCo.  (So much for feeling superior.)

So if your bottled water brand is listed above, do you know much about the Nestlé company or its business practices?  Well, I didn't, either, but there are some stories out there that are very disturbing.  Maybe you've already heard about this, and more power to you.  If so, you beat me to the punch on this one.

Basically, what the company is doing in many different areas of the world is draining groundwater, using it to make their bottled water, then forcing people to buy their own water back. Nestlé has moved into Pakistan and has been using up the water supply, rendering entire areas of the country uninhabitable just so they can sell mineral-enriched water to those who can afford to buy it.  The poor people, who can't afford bottled water, have to get their water from wells, which are now running dry, and their children are getting sick because of it.  

One example: the residents of the village of Bhati Dilwan have seen their water table sink hundreds of feet since Nestlé moved into the area.  The only water the poor people have to drink is a foul-smelling sludge.  This isn't only happening in Pakistan, however.  It's happening all over the world, particularly in third-world countries, where the vast majority of people are much too poor to afford bottled water.

Did you know that dirty water kills more children in the world than AIDS, malaria, war, and traffic accidents combined?  This situation needs to change, and fast.  Nestlé's business practices must be exposed.  It's fine to sell bottled water to people if that's what they want to buy, but to deprive the world's poorest people of a basic need for survival is absolutely unacceptable.

What can you do?  

1. Here are some more articles for you to read. 

Nestlé: The Global Search for Liquid Gold

Poisoning the Well?  Nestlé Accused of Exploiting Water Supplies for Bottled Brands

The Story: Bottled Life  (This is about a documentary film that has been made.  It is available on iTunes right now.)

2. Consider signing a petition here or here or here or hereEach of these petitions is about water from a different source.  You can use Google to find more petitions.  Try typing in "petition against Nestle" and see what you get.

3.  Look at the list of bottled waters given above and see if your favorite is on the list.  If it is, find another brand that you can live with.  :-/