Celebrities like Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio have advocated for Starbucks’ Ethos Water, those bottles in the cold case that are supposedly help alleviate the world’s water crisis.
But beware celebrities pitching quick fix solutions to world problems, for they are often not at all in the know. Case in point Ethos Water, where a not-insignificant portion of what’s inside them comes straight out of bone-dry California.
Fresh after revelations that Nestlé bottles water in some of California’s most drought stricken regions, environmental website Mother Jones poked around and discovered Ethos bottles distributed in the western U.S. come from a plant located in Merced, an area the government considers to be in “exceptional drought.”
The facility has been blasted by residents a while ago, but it was news to them too that Starbucks’ $1.95 bottles of Ethos water were getting produced here. A mere five cents from every one of them goes to the Ethos Water Fund, Starbucks’ charity that provides “water, sanitation and hygiene education programs in water-stressed countries.”
How much water the plant uses is private, but Starbucks defends the unknown amount in the same fashion Nestlé does: It comes from “a private spring source that is not used for municipal water for any communities.”
This rings hollow as it still depletes the groundwater, hurts nearby agriculture, and likely has long-lasting ecological consequences.
These effects are some of those Ethos purports to address. It seems as though Starbucks, if they aren’t already, will need to re-think just how the water is sourced and advertised.