We are approaching International Nestlé-Free Week, which this year marks the 20th anniversary of the launch of the current boycott, on 4 October. In the UK children will be returning to school next month (September). Investigating Nestlé and thinking about Nestlé-Free Week and how to make change in the world, may be an interesting activity in the remaining days of the holiday and coming weeks.
The week is an opportunity to change our own behaviour and influence those around us, with the aim of changing Nestlé. Nestlé is the worst of the companies when it comes to pushing baby milk. It uses tactics that break standards agreed collectively by Health Ministries at the World Health Assembly and which undermine breastfeeding, so increasing the risk of sickness in babies, which, in poor settings, mean those babies are more likely to die.
According to the World Health Organisation, 1.5 million babies die around the world every year because they are not breastfed. Nestlé is the worst of the baby food companies and drives down standards for other companies. For example, when Nestlé ran a campaign advertising its formula in South African supermarkets at the end of 2007, the other baby food companies complained and the Department of Health said it was against such strategies. Yet Nestlé says it will continue to advertise its formula with claims that it 'protects' babies, even though it knows babies fed on it are more likely to become ill than babies who are breastfed. See:
Nestlé is a very big and powerful company. It cares more about making money for its shareholders than it cares about the lives of babies and their families. So what can we do?
One hundred years ago, Mahatma Gandhi, a young Indian lawyer, travelled to South Africa where he found that Indians were discriminated against. Even though he had a ticket for the first class compartment of the train he took on arriving, he was forced to move to third class just because he was Indian. He decided to oppose this type of treatment through non-violent action which demands that authorities respect the rights of every human to dignity and life. When he returned to India, he worked in the same way for independence, eventually succeeding in this goal. His birthday is 2 October, which is marked as the International Day of Non-Violence. Find out more about Gandhi at:
Gandhi famously said: "We must be the change we wish to see in the world."
There are many things that you can do in the lead up to International Nestlé-Free Week, during the week and beyond. One of the reasons for having this week is to encourage people who don't currently boycott Nestlé to do so at least for one week. People who just boycott Nescafé coffee - which is the main target of the boycott - can boycott all Nestlé products during this week. We are free to choose how we spend our money. Deciding not to give our money to Nestlé is an easy and non-violent way to show the company we think it should change the way it markets its baby milk.
Here are some ideas for things you can do:
Find out the facts. You can find links to useful information on Baby Milk Action's Nestlé-Free Zone page at:
You can find out about other concerns about Nestlé (things like child slavery on the farms that provide cocoa for its chocolate, the damaging environmental impact of its bottled water, poor treatment of workers) and what Nestlé has to say about these things at:
You can ask Baby Milk Action for its latest information pack on Nestlé by going to:
You can order our campaign pack, which includes a DVD from UNICEF Philippines showing the reality for mothers and babies there as Nestlé and other companies encourage them to bottle feed instead of breastfeed. See:
Learn how the campaign is helping to save lives. In the Philippines, the World Health Organisation said 16,000 babies die every year because in inappropriate feeding. After a long campaign, with help from people like you, just last year people in the Philippines succeeded in bringing in stronger rules to stop Nestlé and other companies pushing baby milk, so protecting mothers and babies. See:
The boycott puts pressure on Nestlé to change, because Nestlé's main concern is money. It's Chief Executive has promised that the company will become ever bigger, doubling the size of its sales about every 12 years. By deciding to buy products from other companies rather than Nestlé until Nestlé abides by the rules for selling baby milk - and telling Nestlé you are doing this - shows Nestlé that its bad behaviour costs it money. You can find a list of Nestlé products in the UK here:
Because of people supporting the boycott, Nestlé can no longer ignore the campaign. It will send you letters and books about what it says it is doing - costing it even more money. Sometimes it will change what it is doing if the pressure is enough. You can send letters to Nestlé about some of the cases that Baby Milk Action is targeting, with the help of partners around the world. See:
On the Baby Milk Action website you will find lots more ideas and resources. In the Nestlé-Free Zone you will find links to leaflets and posters, talks and powerpoint presentations, newspaper articles, letter-writing campaigns and much more. See:
You can also make your own suggestions and Baby Milk Action will try to help. If you want to design and poster, write an article, make a clip for youtube, anything at all, you can contact Baby Milk Action. We can check the facts are correct if you wish. We can also share your ideas with other people to help them. Just contact us.
Tell your friends about this message so they can also 'be the change'.
You will find updates on this blog as International Nestlé-Free Week approaches. Please do send us your ideas and news of what your are doing.