It’s been a quiet week here on the Food & Water Watch blog since we underwent an (entirely invisible) software upgrade that inadvertently caused several staff to be locked out.
Consequently, it is only after the fact that we could rail on Starbucks for co-opting World Water Day.
An initiative that grew out of United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janerio, the UN General Assembly designated March 22nd “World Water Day” in 1992 to draw international attention to the critical lack of clean, safe drinking water worldwide.
In 2005, Starbucks, the world‚ largest coffee retailer, bought the three year old Ethos bottled water company, a business that sells bottled water to wealthy consumers (you’d have to be to spend $1.80 a bottle) with the promise of improving access to safe water in developing countries. We’ve blogged on this flawed premise before.
Now, Starbucks/Ethos registered WorldWaterDay.net and has been organizing public relations events with no discernible policy objective in dozens of cities around the country. Environmental groups called out polluting companies for greenwashing their images by sponsoring Earth Day when the environment went mainstream in the 1990‚. We should call out Starbucks for engaging on what this really is: a PR stunt.
Starbucks is not alone. Coca Cola has long been criticized for draining aquifers in developing countries and selling the water back to the people. They too have a PR campaign launched this week.
If you want to take meaningful action for World Water Day (even a day later), ask your member of Congress to reject President Bush‚ proposal to encourage privatization of U.S. water utilities.
You can also get the inside scoop on the international movement for water justice, by downloading our World Water Day edition of Defend the Global Commons, a quarterly magazine from Food & Water Watch. We think you’ll like the great new format. Click here to download it, print it out and spread the word!
To paraphrase . . . . us: Ethos’ slogan is “Every Bottle Makes a Difference” and they’re right. Every bottle drains ecosystems, creates waste in the form of plastic bottles, and uses large amounts of energy to bottle and transport a product that may not be any better than what comes out of your tap. More Problems With Bottled Water