Waterfight in Toronto: Who gets Water Day?


As Bonnie pointed out earlier, it is World Water Day. Watercan, a charity that funds local, community-controlled, sustainable water projects in 32 developing countries, has organized a 6 km walk in Toronto to fundraise, starting at 11 on Sunday. One would think that it would be popular and well-attended.

Except, Ethos Water, a subsidiary of Starbucks, has organized its own Walk For Water on Saturday. according to Jennifer Davis of WaterCan: "We've been bumped out of the limelight by Starbucks, and we're not very happy about the whole thing"

Ethos founder Peter Thum is very clear about Ethos Water's walk: "We're not selling anything." Sara Stratton of Kairos Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives, a group campaigning to save the planet's water and against bottled water, is not reassured. "Maybe they're not trying to sell anything on World Water Day, but every other day of they year they are selling water." Kairos's slogan is "Water: life before profit."

We love Starbucks, but know which walk we are doing. ::Now MagazineAlso from Now Magazine:

Can bottled water save the world? Starbucks believes Ethos Water can. But what's the eco-conscious trendsetter doing bottling this premium resource in the first place?

What the label won't tell you:

• Ethos's goal is to raise $10 million by 2010 for water projects in Africa, Asia and Latin America by donating 10 cents from the sale of every bottle. The catch? Ethos is making a killing in the process. A bottle retails for $2.35 in Canada.

• It's marketed as "natural spring water," taken from Tomhicken Mountain Springs in Hazelton, Pennsylvania. But what about the cost in greenhouse gas we're paying to truck the water to Starbucks stores across North America?

• Did we mention that Ethos signed a five-year, $10 million distribution deal with PepsiCo, whose massive bottled water operations are depleting supplies the world over?

• The bottles are recyclable, but in the U.S. more than 1.5 million barrels of oil are burned every year to produce plastic for water bottles. The ecological kick in the head: many of those bottles still end up in landfill.

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