Update: Starbucks Will Stop Selling Drought Water

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Update: Starbucks announced Thursday that it will move its water-bottling operations out of California while it looks for a new West Coast source for its Ethos brand, after an explosive story laid out how the megabrand was bringing in huge profits from water pumped and packaged in the most drought-stricken part of the state. Starbucks will move production to its Pennsylvania plant for the next six months while it looks for a new water supply

This story was originally published on April 30, 2015.

You know those trendy-looking bottles of water by the register at your neighborhood Starbucks that boast about how much they give back? Well, they're full of spring water pumped out of the epicenter of California's massive drought.

According to a new report from Mother Jones, the coffee giant has made hundreds of millions of dollars from its Ethos bottled water. The Ethos brand is based on giving five cents from every $1.95 bottle sold to fund projects dedicated to water issues in the developing world.

But, the piece continues, those projects are funded by a bottled-water supply from another drought-stricken region — California. And, Ethos products are bottled in the town of Merced, where residents are already complaining that Starbucks is turning a profit while they struggle to meet basic water needs. According to the reporter's estimates, Starbucks has sold more than $400 million worth of water worldwide.

What's scary is that Starbucks and Nestle, another company that has been criticized for selling California's water for private profit, haven't been subject to the water regulations that have so many communities scrambling to conserve. That may be changing, but right now, bottled water is still a liquid-gold mine.

What to do? It's been clear for a long time that bottled water is bad for the earth, so it might be time to ditch the plastic and donate money directly to water-related charities. And stop eating almonds.  

Related stories:
Everything You Need To Know About The California Drought
Things In California Are Even Worse Than You Realize
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