I was inspired by Annie at Phd in Parenting to write a post on why I boycott Nestle products and how practically this affects our lives. Annie has written a number of well-researched posts on Nestle and I invite you all to visit her blog and read them for yourselves. A good starting point is her latest post entitled Why I Protest Nestlé’s Unethical Business Practices.
Annie provides an overview of Nestle’s unethical business practices, and writes that:
Nestlé is accused by experts of unethical business practices such as:
- Promoting infant formula with misleading and harmful strategies that violate the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes and put babies at risk (see Baby Milk Action’s Briefing on Nestle Updated July 2010 and the Boycott Nestle – and other action to protect infant health blog);
- Using suppliers that violate human rights (e.g purchasing milk from Mugabe, buying cocoa from suppliers that use child slaves) and destroy the environment (e.g. palm oil from rainforest);
- Controlling and abusing of water sources in its bottled water operations (e.g. in United States and in Brazil);
- Promoting unhealthy food, especially for young children;
- Trade union busting activities and denying the rights of workers to collectively bargain;
- …and more (see Nestle Critics Portal and Corporate Watch: Nestle SA: Corporate Crimes).
As someone who is passionate about breastfeeding, I feel quite strongly about Nestle’s promotion of infant formula that violates the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. I was recently at a mom and baby trade show in Toronto, and was quite saddened to walk into the exhibition hall and be greeted by an enormous, overpowering Nestle booth. The displays and signage literally were from floor to ceiling and could be seen from very far away. Moms were lining up to receive free samples of formula and infant cereal, and it was breaking my heart.
I was volunteering at the show at the La Leche League booth, which was generously sponsored by a wonderful breastfeeding boutique here in Toronto, called Evymama. Unfortunately our booth was in the back, but we still managed to reach out to a lot of moms and hopefully insipred a few to come to our meetings and learn more about breastfeeding. It was hard for us to compete with the big, flashy Nestle booth with its giveaways, but we did our best! While at the show I was sure to visit and make purchases from booths of breastfeeding friendly companies, including Evymama and Momzelle. It feels great to give my business to companies owned by breastfeeding moms who support other breastfeeding moms!
It is quite amazing how pervasive Nestle products are and how many brands are owned by Nestle. This link provides a list of brands owned by Nestle. For us, it is not that difficult to avoid them, as a lot of the brands produce processed, packaged foods that we try to avoid. We try to avoid processed foods wherever possible for health reasons, but the Nestle boycott provides me with even more motivation.
There have been a few brands that I find more difficult to avoid, especially when we are out. I used to quite enjoy a nice bottle of San Pellegrino or Perrier, and the corner store near us sells Nestle popsicles and ice cream products that Dylan enjoys once in a while for a treat. I used to be a fan of Haagen Daaz, but now I do my best to the brand. Ben and Jerry’s is a great substitute! When Dylan was getting started on solids, I did purchase and give him some Gerber puffs, before I was aware of the ban. I can say with certainty that baby #2 will not be eating ANY puffs.
I am just one person but I believe that my actions can make a difference. I hope that through this post more people become aware of Nestle’s unethical business practices, and join me in my boycott of Nestle.