Monday, June 15, 2009

What's wrong with the picture?

Display in a Starbucks in Northern California. "Every bottle makes a difference" according to the caption.

According to Starbucks:

Ethos Water is a brand with a social mission -- helping children around the world get clean water and raising awareness of the World Water Crisis.

Every time you purchase a bottle of Ethos™ water, Ethos Water will contribute US $0.05 (C$0.10 in Canada) toward our goal of raising at least US $10 million by 2010. Through The Starbucks Foundation, Ethos Water supports humanitarian water programs in Africa, Asia and Latin America. To date, Ethos Water grant commitments exceed $6.2 million. ...

Plueeze ... Here's a top of my head list of what I find wrong with this:
  • Plastic bottles are a plague. Recycling them uses less energy (oil) than making new ones, but not using them at all would help more.
  • Modern developed countries use taxpayer money to provide drinkable tap water. Just drink it. You don't need a plastic bottle from a water vendor. Bottled water is no better than tap water. Often it is tap water!
  • Want to help people in less developed countries have access to clean water? Send money! If you bought 365 bottles of Starbucks' designer water a year, you'd send $18.50 to the Starbucks Foundation. How about you just send $25 a year to a water development group, carry a bottle, and drink tap water? Blue Planet Run is a network of competent groups all over the world. I personally like to give to El Porvenir which works in Nicaragua. More here.
A friend of mine, a very smart woman, wrote a book, Wrestling with Starbucks, that argues that we can't simply dismiss the coffee giant as an evil empire. And I don't.

But Starbucks' water boondoggle seems awfully close to evil to me. Ethos, indeed!


Samia said...

I was very confused when i saw those bottles too!The posters make it sound like they're made of biodegradable starch or something! However, i must add a frustrating caveat to the bottled water is just bottled tap water mantra: in San Diego, and in large swaths of L.A., tap water is, tastewise, absolutely undrinkable, maybe its because we're at the very end of the line, or someone over-chlorinated, or we have no business having water in the first place, but it really and truly tastes horrible.

Betty Johanna said...

Vanity Fair, July 2009: "As summer begins, what better way to measure Wall Street's health than a real estate tour of the Hampton's? Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks, is mentioned. It's a marketing ploy and nothing else. I recommend checking out the "think before you pink campaign," a response to the overwhelming number of pink ribbon products and promotions on the market. Same can be said for probably most, if not all, similar campaigns of the corporate sector.

Darlene said...

Yeah! You pointed out the fault with campaigns like this. They are simply a gimmick to make money for the company.

I give my charity directly to any organization that makes sure the money goes directly to the people. The local Food Bank is my favorite. I never give to the Red Cross because so much of the donation goes to overhead.

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