By NICOLE CLARK
Nestle, the Swiss food and drink company, recently laid claim to a small municipality’s five-hectare safe-water well.
The company dropped set conditions it attached to a previous offer made in 2015 and matched the competing offer; an offer by the Township of Centre Wellington itself, subsequently outbidding the growing Ontario community. These conditions included conducting pump tests to determine if the watershed met the company’s quality and quantity requirements, reported The Canadian Press.
Nestle, which has brought you mouth-watering candy such as Aero, Smarties, Kit Kat and Turtles, as well as beverages such as Nesquick, Nescafe and Nestea, has put a price on safe drinking water in the interest of ensuring future business growth.
Amanda Mooser, a first-year Conestoga bachelor of science and nursing student, said, “It’s obviously affecting a lot of people, which is bad. Something should definitely be done about it but I don’t know what you could do. They’re obviously going to resist anything that people try to do.”
The corporate giant already owns and operates a plant in Aberfoyle, approximately 35 kilometres southeast of the Township of Centre Wellington, where it extracts up to 3.6 million litres of water per day and makes more than $2 million a year in profit. Nestle claims it plans only to use the new site, purchased from Middlebrook Water Company, as a backup. However, officials did say they plan to draw up to 1.6 million litres of water a day which would then be transported to its bottling facility.
The community, which was attempting to secure a future safe drinking water supply, is outraged. In fact, many people decided to join in a “Boycott Nestle” campaign, which urges people to stop using or consuming Nestle products.
The campaign was started by The Council of Canadians, Canada’s leading social action organization, which has 60 chapters across the country. It states, “Wasting our limited groundwater on frivolous and consumptive uses such as bottled water is madness. We must not allow groundwater reserves to be depleted for corporate profit.”
“People shouldn’t be buying water bottles anyway,” said Steven Paylor, a first-year Conestoga advertising student. When asked if he would consider signing the pledge to boycott Nestle and their products, after much consideration, Paylor said, “I would sign it, but would I actually never use something from Nestle again? It’s pretty impractical. Definitely for bottled water, but I don’t know about the rest of the stuff.”
Alyssa Rubenstein, a first-year bachelor of public relations student, agreed the recent actions by Nestle are not good ones, although she did not see the boycott as a reasonable option. “Would I refuse to buy their products ever again? Probably not. It’s bad but at the same time there’s so many things happening that you are going to buy what is convenient for you at the time.”
The pledge itself states “Nestle pays just $3.71 per one million litres (less than $15 per day) for this water and then ships it out of the community in hundreds of millions of single-use plastic bottles for sale all over North America – at an astronomically marked up price.”
Maude Barlow, chairperson for The Council of Canadians, told the Canadian Press the well “sits on the traditional territory of the Six Nations of the Grand River, 11,000 of whom do not have access to clean running water.”
If you wish to join the 23,749 people who have already committed to boycotting Nestle, head over to canadians.org/nestle.