Starbucks Stops Bottling Its Ethos Water Brand in Drought-Stricken California

Starbucks Stops Bottling Its Ethos Water Brand in Drought-Stricken California

You’re likely familiar with Ethos Water, the bottled water brand found at your local Starbucks. Five cents from every bottle purchased is donated to the Ethos Water Fund, which helps support water, sanitation and hygiene education programs in water-stressed countries like Africa and Indonesia—only until recently, Starbucks was sourcing its spring water from drought-stricken California, where residents are working hard to conserve every last drop of water.

The company has announced it will temporarily move its bottling operations to Pennsylvania while it looks for a new West Coast destination.

“We are committed to our mission to be a globally responsible company and to support the people of the state of California as they face this unprecedented drought,” John Kelly, Starbucks senior vice president of Global Responsibility and Public Policy said in a statement. “The decision to move our Ethos water sourcing from California and reduce our in-store water usage by more than 25 percent are steps we are taking in partnership with state and local governments to accelerate water conservation.”

Prior to the announcement, the company was making big bucks packaging and selling Ethos Water in California because of the drought. Both Starbucks and Nestlé are thus far not subject to water conservation regulations.

According to Mother Jones:

Ethos Water was supposed to help fix the global water crisis: Founded in 2002 in Southern California, the bottled-water company promised that for every unit it sold, it would donate a small amount of money to water charity projects in the developing world.

While the water was bottled in the town of Merced, it was actually sourced from Baxter, California, which is located a few hours from Merced in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. The mountainous region has also been listed as being under an “exceptional drought”. No one knows exactly how much water was sucked out of the parched territory, but residents increasingly have had enough of Starbucks making hundreds of millions of dollars in profits while nearby farms dry up.

The California drought is so bad that Gov. Jerry Brown has ordered residents and businesses to cut water use by 25 percent until 2016 (and some areas by 35 percent), in the first statewide restrictions in history.

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Image: Marco Paköeningrat