01.09.2013 - 13.11.2013
I don’t like Coke. First of all, it doesn’t actually taste like anything else on this planet, which makes me just a little suspicious. Plus it makes your more thirsty than you were before, which to me is exactly the opposite of why I have a drink. Then there are the terrible things it does to your body (http://www.trueactivist.com/what-happens-to-our-body-after-drinking-coca-cola/). Nothing that started out life containing cocaine can be good for you, in my book.
But that’s just for starters. Drinking Coke has an international impact that people are gradually getting increasingly aware of, but awareness is still low. Lok Samiti, one of the organisations I’ve been working with out here in India, has been leading the Quit India campaign against Coca Cola for some time, focusing principally on the removal of the Varanasi plant. These ordinary people (farmers, housewives, shopkeepers etc.) have faced terrible police violence and prison sentences as well as undergoing hunger strikes in a desperate attempt to save their water supply. Since the arrival of the Coke plant in 2000, the water level in the surrounding areas has dropped dramatically, to the point that many wells are out of action for much of the year. Seriously, I’ve seen the graphs; if they were ski runs, they’d be beyond black. Of course, Coke have spouted all the usual ‘local jobs’ tripe, but at the end of the day, buffalo don’t drink fizzy drinks. There are a couple of great films that have been made that can show you in a much more powerful way than I can write, and I recommend you check them out: http://www.cultureunplugged.com/documentary/watch-online/play/10489/Holy-Water
And that’s just what’s going on here; there’s a ton of other issues ranging from the dodgy to the deadly. Trying to bribe US Congress to cut donations to WHO because it makes Coke look bad, death squads in Columbia (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/1448962.stm), using child labour in Pakistan, racism in plants in the US... the list goes on. At my own uni, there was an attempt to ban Coke from the Union, which ultimately failed as it was necessary for financial stability – is it right that one corporation should be so central to what ought to be an independent, democratic body? I think not. Feel free to research this stuff in your own time, but just remember, next time you ‘share a Coke with friends’, be aware of exactly what it is that you are sharing.