People are furious about where Starbucks' Ethos bottled water comes from

Starbucks concept store
Starbucks concept store

(Rien Meulman Fotografie for Starbucks)

Starbucks' Ethos bottled water comes from a drought-ridden county in California.

"The bottling plant that Starbucks uses for its Ethos customers in the western United States is located in Merced, California, which is currently ranked in the 'exceptional drought' category by the US Drought Monitor," writes Anna Lenzer at Mother Jones.

"Its residents face steep water cuts in their homes, and surface water for the region's many farms is drying up."

The company donates 5 cents from every $1.95 bottle of Ethos to help children get clean drinking water in countries including Tanzania, Indonesia, and Colombia. Celebrities such as Matt Damon have endorsed the brand for Starbucks.

Starbucks gets the water free, according to Mother Jones.

Lenzer estimates that Starbucks has sold nearly 250 million bottles of the water.

A Starbucks' representative told Mother Jones that the company uses "a private spring source that is not used for municipal water for any communities."

ethos water description
ethos water description

( Starbucks' often promotes Ethos water's humanitarian mission.

But a geologist tells Mother Jones that sometimes these private water sources drain the community supply by capturing the water before it reaches people downstream who might use it.

Many people are criticizing Starbucks on social media, calling for the brand to move its water plant to another location.

A separate report from Mother Jones notes that many popular bottled water brands come from California, including Nestle's Arrowhead and Pure Life brands.

There are no laws in California to regulate how much water can be taken from underground aquifers (aka "groundwater").

The only laws that exist govern surface water, the kind in rivers and lakes. New regulations were recently introduced for this exact purpose, but they won't kick in for years.

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