Unilever in Kodaikanal

Unilever’s brands and available alternatives are listed and linked below if you’d like to boycott them, for their devastation to humans and environment in Kodaikanal for which Unilever has refused to take responsibility (see 2nd heading). tl;dr: see the petition, block quotes and the list of kind products, the DIY page where all is linked except food recipes and reports on the Kodaikanal issue.

Jhatkaa.org created a petition asking Paul Polman, Unilever’s CEO, to clean up Kodaikanal’s toxic contamination and to compensate affected workers.

Unilever’s thermometer plant in Kodaikanal exposed many workers to mercury poisoning, without giving them any protective equipment or information about the disastrous health effects of mercury. This toxic mercury, dumped around the factory and in forests, continues to contaminate soil and groundwater, affecting thousands. The workers cannot afford private healthcare, and have been fighting for 14 years, asking Unilever to clean up the toxic contamination, and to compensate them for their medical expenses. They need us to stand with them […].

There has been a mobilisation for justice and compensation since 2008. Was Greenpeace involved and has Greenpeace now been driven out of India because Modi didn’t want pro-environmental groups in the way of business growth, I heard about it probably on DW news a while back. In any case I will continue boycotting Unilever as I did for years for animal testing before knowing about Kodaikanal, let us assume they clean up the region and compensate ex-workers families as well as stop testing on animals, I will keep boycotting them for colourism. What an amazing coincidence that they exploit poor brown workers while selling the most popular skin lightening brand I’ve seen in the Indian diaspora.

Unilever brands include Dove, Rexona, Axe, SunSilk, Domestos, Flora, Miko/ Ola/ Selecta, Knorr, Lifebuoy, Lipton, Lux, Magnum, Omo, Signal, Amora, Biotex, Brut, Cajoline, Cif, Cupasoup, Fair&Lovely [which promotes colourism e.g in the country they exploit and here], Impulse, Comfort, Jik, Lakmé, klondike, Maizena, Marmite, Mentadent, Pears, Skip, Solero, StYves, Coleman’s, Dawn, Fruit d’or, Gabi, Glen tea, Joko tea, Lyons, Mon savon, Organics, Robertsons… I’ve left out all that did not look familiar in their 13 pages of logos!

If only there’d been a fairtrade soapnut industry for these workers instead, I don’t know any risks associated with it, soapnuts is a plant local to them and we could use all sorts of detergents made from it (it didn’t need fabric softening), it’s also neutral for the planet. It’s a fact that detergents such as the Unilever ones listed above are toxic to fauna in the environment and waterways. Only a company that will never care would make a thermometer factory near forests and try save costs by not giving equipment to poor workers they targeted for their lack of awareness.

Alternative brands to some of the above detergents and toothpaste and DIY. I bet it’s cheaper Bicarb or vinegar can replace your Cajoline if Dr. Bronner’s can replace Skip and dishwashing soap and personal care, it’s healthier for you, kids and pets (avoid the tea-tree type if you have dog friends*). I will see what I can list aside from dairy-like products I’m allergic to all these foods since long, and most of their alternatives, we have local black tea brands. I’m too disabled to shop or to know what you’d replace, say, Marmite with.

There’s an issue here with kind products, or rather with some places that sell them, I’m yet to find well-informed staff (probably the shop owners aren’t well-informed too) so as well as telling them stuff for free (these days on the phone) I’m blogging all the info I can. Drop me a comment or email if you have any questions on kind products.

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*Tea-tree when injested, can cause seizures to dogs. I do use the tea-tree one as antibacterial after visiting dog-friends – I’m allergic to them, unlike other fur-allergics I don’t use disinfectant. Lavender is also anti-bacterial and anti-fungal but I hate the smell.

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Free Our Springs

World water day is today, going by the official announcement – March 22nd or today because yesterday was Sunday. We are to expect 40% water shortfall in 15 years, easily more for some regions.

Climate is changing, one can’t know if next summer is going to be a drought or floods or both. Some regions of this island (Mauritius) got flooded and for all regions, for months there have been issues like gastro enteritis so severe that people need hospitalisation. I pay taxes but cannot access any of your healthcare nor clinics. I wonder how many disabled folks or those with allergies struggle with the same, thus for some of us, access to clean water and medicinal plants can be vital, not simply desirable and economical as it would be for others.

A call to mobilisation over this simple issue that could save energy, our money, electricity, health and the environment (how much waste is generated from water filters or worse, bottled water)

cool clear water flowing from an urban spring
cool clear water flowing from an urban spring

Natural springs which should be public property, have been closed off for either corporations benefits or they have been routed into the central water supply, thus already clean and potable water is being mixed with reservoir water and all of it is then treated to become potable, chlorinated and fluoridated water we pay for (yeah there was a change in the 2015/16 budget and I’m unsure if 6000m3 suffices for a family, still everyone, especially for children and the elderly boil/purify tap water). In flood season, the treatment plant struggles, water isn’t actually potable and in spite of boiling water, people are getting ill. Furthermore, this is a waste and of course, we pay for drinking water and the costs to purify and/or boil it in our homes. With open springs, we’d only pay travel costs to collect. At least for areas around the springs and those who visit them, it’ll be far more cost-effective. For the rest I haven’t worked it out, in some regions of Austria though they get spring water in their taps. We’re a tiny country.

If a spring is part of the commons, people would go collect the water in drinking containers. See findaspring.com. I have witnessed an example for years in the city of Capetown, an outlet has been in the middle of a busy suburb for some 50 years, there’s hardly a queue and recently because they want to close it the city even opened a collection point on a central suburb’s main road and near a bus and taxi (public transportation there, a minivan fuctions like our taxi-train) station and put a signboard. Still hardly a crowd, 3-5 people at most at a time, people buy 10 or 25L containers and fill them up when they need to, some good or privileged person offers to test the water sometimes and people know via social media, email or word of mouth. In that city, even box schemes delivery (like your Agribio or Vélo Vert, not to say that they should) offers to refill containers as a service. Post-apartheid urban exclusion aside, access to the spring is free, a city has the responsibility of providing the infrastructures but over there it may well be because they sold the rest of the springs without public consent, to the brewery.

Everyone on this island who has any information or wants to join a mobilisation or campaign is welcome to get in touch.