It is the international week to boycott Nestlé, October 25-31. It coincides with Halloween on purpose, since Nestlé makes so much candy.
Here's some information on the boycott, on Nestlé, and on why you should consider joining in this week.
Nestlé produces, besides a host of other products, three specific types of products that are the subject of controversy:
- One is infant milk substitutes, which it aggressively markets worldwide in violation of the World Health Organization's Code of of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes, a series of reasonable recommendations for protecting infants' health that Nestlé entirely ignores.
- The second is, in fact, its chocolate candy, which is reportedly the product of child slave labor in the cocoa fields.
- A third is Nestlé's many brands of bottled water, the production of which unfairly depletes groundwater resources and creates pollution.
There are other issues with the corporation as well, and the boycott seeks to point them out to bring the public's attention to Nestlé's practices and to put pressure on Nestlé to (maybe, someday, we can hope) change.
As Birthing Beautiful Ideas so eloquently explains in a fabulous article titled "What the Nestle Boycott is—and isn't—About," the boycott is against Nestlé; it is not against you, no matter if you've used Nestlé products in the past, no matter if you like them still, no matter if you formula feed. As Baby Milk Action, the organization spearheading the boycott, has on every page on its site, the mission is "Protecting breastfeeding — Protecting babies fed on formula." The boycott calls Nestlé to account for its role in undermining infant health, fair labor practices, destruction of the environment, and promotion of unwholesome food.
To take probably the most controversial Nestlé-relatd issue, because of its apparent reflection on parents who use formula, Nestlé's practices where infant formula are concerned are as dangerous for formula-fed infants as they are for breastfeeding itself. Nestlé unscrupulously promotes artificial milk substitutes worldwide, but in developing countries it has a particularly devastating impact. The estimate is that 1.5 million babies die every year who could have been saved through appropriate breastfeeding — if companies like Nestlé hadn't used insidious methods to convince parents who could have breastfed to switch to formula. In developing countries, water to mix with formula is often tainted with disease. Formula itself is too expensive for many families, so once they use up their free samples, they're forced to dilute the formula so it will last longer. Simply put, Nestlé has put intentional practices into place that kill babies. In the industrialized world, formula is still unethically marketed as being the same as breastmilk, or given out as samples to expecting parents and to healthcare workers — and you'd better believe that has an effect on breastfeeding success rates. Are there other formula companies doing the same things? You betcha. But Nestlé has been the most egregious, and the other companies look to Nestlé to see what they can get away with — apparently, it's a lot.
So, if you think Nestlé sounds pretty reprehensible but a year-long boycott and keeping track of all those Nestlé brands on a regular basis is too much for you, consider setting aside Nestlé products for just this one week. You don't have to get rid of the Nestlé products you already have; just make an effort not to buy any new ones right now. Buy other brands of candy for Halloween celebrations. Instead of popping in a Stouffer's or Lean Cuisine, cook a slow meal with your family. Try a different brand of cookie dough or chocolate chips. Skip the Häagen-Dazs and Dreyer's; there are other ice cream brands out there, or maybe you can do without for a week. Feed your pets some non-Chow. Indulge in better coffee than Nescafé, and in better juice for your kids than Juicy Juice. Make some pasta that's not Buitoni. And invest in a reusable water bottle so you don't have to use bottled water. Refuel with real food instead of a Power Bar. And trust me — you look fabulous; you can stop with the Jenny Craig. If you're feeding a baby, see if you can do without any Gerber or Nestlé formulas, baby foods, and accessories for a week. As far as solids go, I'm a big fan of child-led solids, where you give your baby or toddler (over six months old) food from your own plates. Try it this week if you haven't before. And if your baby must use a brand-specific formula, you can still participate in the boycott in the other ways.
Yup, Nestlé's all over the place. And they're powerful enough that they think they can throw out placating double speak and we'll ignore what they're doing to children and adults and nutrition and the environment in other countries and in ours. But we won't. We demand better, and the boycott will continue until they listen to us.
Who's with me in boycotting?