Stop buying their shit

by Daniel Kelley

Nestle Waters North America has been extracting about 5 million litres of groundwater per day from springs in central Canada.

Cool, so what?

Their bottling operation in Erin, Ontario, about 80km northwest of Toronto, has been operating under an expired permit since July 31st.

A few quick facts before the pitchforks come out:

  1. Nestle’s permit, as well as the permits for other water bottling operations in the province of Ontario, expired because the Ontario Ministry of the Environment and Energy (MEE) began the process of changing its water management rules, placing the rights of water bottlers in a kind of limbo.
  2. As such, Nestle has been allowed to continue its extraction by virtue of a temporary permit while the MEE reviews Nestle’s operations and determines new extraction quotas and permit fees.
  3. Technically, Nestle’s continued operations are not illegal.

But legality isn’t really the issue here.

Before the MEE began to alter their water policy, Nestle paid a fee of $3.71 CAD ($2.88 USD) for every 1,000,000 litres of water extracted in the province. For the permits themselves, Nestle paid between $750 and $3,000per pumping well per year.

I’ll rephrase:

With the same amount of money it would cost you or me to buy one of those shitty plastic car chargers from a 7–Eleven, Nestle could purchase one millionlitres of Canadian water.

I don’t think you understand:

For $2.88.

And here’s a nice list of things more expensive than Nestle’s permits:

  • Most public college quarterly tuition
  • A six month premium on car insurance
  • One month’s rent in any place worth living
  • A trip to the ER for that one time you fell off that one frat’s roof
  • Treating the entire office to sushi when it’s not all-you-can-eat

Rural Canadians aren’t used to fighting for their own water, but this isn’t anything new for Nestle.

Two years ago Nestle faced the same public backlash for their operations in the San Bernardino National Forest, about 70 miles east of Los Angeles. In the case of San Bernardino, Nestle had been extracting over 25 million gallons of water per year on a permit which expired in 1988. And Nestle paid a whopping — wait for it — $524 per year for this access. That measly fee doesn’t even cover the cost of postage to send the bill to Switzerland (that’s a joke). But it definitely doesn’t cover the total costs that the US Forest Service incurred in monitoring Nestle’s bottling operation. This is the same complaint that environmental groups and local public officials in Ontario have with Nestle digging in their backyard. In both cases, taxpayers are subsidizing Nestle’s bottom line.

Here’s a more infuriating way to look at it: Ontario citizens pay Nestle to pump their water into 16 fl. oz. plastic bottles and then they pay Nestle for each one those bottles.

Therefore the conversation over Nestle in Canada is not about legality but responsibility.

Nestle Water netted $4 billion in the first half of 2017.

Maybe I need to repeat myself.


However much the Ministry of the Environment and Energy will charge Nestle for their operation into the future, it will be a drop in the bucket compared to the profits Nestle reaps from Ontario’s water. And that is to say nothing of the costs of the ecological damage caused by plastic water bottles that Nestle is responsible for. It is fucking egregious that Nestle skimps on pennies and dimes when it comes to compensating the communities from which it extracts hundreds of millions of litres of drinkable water. In Nestle’s nihilistic brand of global stewardship, profit is paramount to people and planet.

But that’s their prerogative. Corporations aren’t bound by constitutional mandates, ethics, or ideals. Nestle is only beholden to one kind of voter: the consumer.

Locals can’t possibly stand up against the immense power and influence that Nestle wields, but at a minimum they can stop funding them. The not-so-simple yet simple action against a corporation’s irresponsibility, greed, all-around evil-doing etc. is to stop buying their shit.

Save Canadian water: stop buying Nestle products.

It’s harder than you think — Nestle keeps a lot of eggs in its basket — but it’s not impossible. Here’s the Wikipedia page that lists them all. I hate to give up Hot Pockets, but sacrifices must be made.