From One Green Planet:
We’ve all learned over the past decade that bottled water isn’t exactly the most environmentally-friendly thing. But for the most part, this idea is based on the fact that when we purchase and consume bottled water, it generates a whole ton of plastic waste. What we don’t usually think about is the potential damage that plastic water bottles could be doing to the planet before they even get to the store.
Where the water actually comes from has become a point of major contention for bottled water giant Nestlé and conservationists seeking to preserve water resources in California. Specifically, water resources in San Bernadino National Forest.
For the past 20 years, Nestlé has pumped tens of millions of gallons of pristine spring water from this location and bottled it as Arrowhead 100 percent Mountain Spring water using a permit to transmit water from the National Park Services that technically expired in 1988. According to Nestlé’s CEO, the permit can’t be considered expired, “until the application has been finally determined by the agency.” But this doesn’t smooth over the fact that National Parks Services hasn’t updated the terms of the permit or put any limitations on the amount of water being taken from the forest in over 20 years!
Last year, Americans drank more than 10 billion gallons of bottled water. Wildlife and the environment paid.
This spring, as California withered in its fourth year of drought and mandatory water restrictions were enacted for the first time in the state’s history, a news story broke revealing that Nestlé Waters North America was tapping springs in the San Bernardino National Forest in southern California using a permit that expired 27 years ago.
And when the company’s CEO Tim Brown was asked on a radio program if Nestlé would stop bottling water in the Golden State, he replied, “Absolutely not. In fact, if I could increase it, I would.” That’s because bottled water is big business, even in a country where most people have clean, safe tap water readily and cheaply available. (Although it should be noted that Starbucks agreed to stop sourcing and manufacturing their Ethos brand water in California after being drought-shamed.)
The Indian government has announced that it is suing mega corporation Nestle over claims it deceptively allowed unsafe and illegal levels of lead in Maggi instant noodles, one of the company’s most popular products in the country. The lawsuit, which seeks nearly $100 million in damages, alleges Nestle engaged in “unfair trade practices” and alleges the noodles are unfit for human consumption.
On Wednesday, the Indian government officially declared that it filed suit in the country’s top consumer court, the National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission (NCDRC), which has semi-judicial powers. It seeks 6,400 million rupees, or $98.6 million in damages from Nestle India.
Sales of the noodles plunged after India’s food safety regulator reported in June that it had tested the noodles and found “unsafe and hazardous” levels of lead. According to the EPA, exposure to unsafe amounts of lead, if chronic and left untreated, is associated with serious side effects:
“In adults, lead poisoning can cause:
- poor muscle coordination
- nerve damage to the sense organs and nerves controlling the body
- increased blood pressure
- hearing and vision impairment
- reproductive problems (e.g., decreased sperm count)
- retarded fetal development even at relatively low exposure levels