I try to avoid Starbucks, but recently I was driving to Orlando, woefully undercaffeinated.  Now that Starbucks franchises are springing up along the interstate like Waffle Houses, it didn’t take me long to spot one.  In need of caffeine, I compromised on my values a bit, and pulled in.

Waiting in line, I noticed a big container full of bottled water.  No surprise there, given the American propensity to waste billions of dollars on bottles of tap water, while much of the world goes without clean water.  But this particular display really leaped out at me.  According to the sign above this pile of bottles, this water is somehow “helping children get clean water.”  The ad went on to say that millions of children have gotten clean water, thanks somehow to these bottles.

It’s a familiar form of greenwashing of course.  In this case, the unwitting consumer pays Starbucks $1.80 for a bottle of tap water, and Starbucks sends a nickel to a water charity.  Starbucks pockets the profits.

It really hacked me off.  The notion that buying bottled water helps the world water crisis is offensive enough, but using that lie as a marketing gimmick is unconscionable. 

In fact, “Ethos” is owned by Starbucks and bottled by Pepsico.  Starbucks makes millions overcharging for water while giving the impression that buying it is somehow an act of charity.

What a crock.  Grrr…..

Love Wins

3 comments on “Ethos?

  1. Cherie says:

    It’s just the American way – shopping/spending/consuming is the answer to all the world’s woes.


  2. rachel says:

    That’s uncanny, I had the exact same experience while driving from San Antonio to Dallas last year. It was the weekend I was reading The Irresistible Revolution by Shaine Claiborne so I was being challenged to think in a whole new way. I thought to myself as I was standing in line reading the display, “Well, even if bottled water is extraordinarily wasteful, at least they’re trying to help folks”… but then I did the math. Seriously? A nickel??? Then it all made sense, it wasn’t really about helping people get clean drinking water, it was about eco-marketing, image-greening and profit.


  3. rachel says:

    Oh, and one more gripe then I’ll be done… notice the map on the front of the bottle? It always irks me when folks slice Asia in two so that we can be the center of the world. That’s all 🙂


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