In response to the devastating drought in California, Starbucks will stop sourcing its bottled water there, the company said Friday. Starbucks’ Ethos Water will now be bottled in Pennsylvania in deference to California’s first-ever state-mandated water use reductions. The announcement comes just one week after a report in Mother Jones showed that Ethos Water was sourced in areas deemed to be in “exceptional drought.”
Starbucks purchased Ethos Water in April 2005 for $8 million and donates five cents of every bottle sold to the Ethos Water Fund, which helps promote water, sanitation and hygiene education in water-stressed areas like Africa, Indonesia and Latin America.
Starbucks also said that they have reduced their total water usage in California by 26 percent. Companies like Coca-Cola (which bottles Dasani in California) and Pepsi Co (which bottles Aquafina). Coca-Cola is reducing its water usage, a spokesperson said, but has not stopped bottling water in California. “We are committed to keeping jobs in California, while reducing our water use and replenishing water back to nature,” spokeswoman Nancy Limon said in an email to Reuters, adding that Coca-Cola is involved in several water stewardship projects around the state.
Americans consumed 11 billion gallons of bottled water last year, up more than seven percent from 2013. This is more than 34 gallons per person according to the International Bottled Water Association (IBWA). The IBWA also contends that bottled water sourced in California stays in California, a “fact” that this information from Starbucks contradicts. “Despite what some bottled water critics claim, the fact is most of the bottled water from California sources is sold in California,” the IBWA site states. “It is simply not part of the U.S. bottled water industry’s usual business model to ship bottles of water thousands of miles from where it is produced due to high transportation costs.”