Fryeburg, Maine — Most students eager to get a college degree will accept a few bucks from anywhere they’re offered. Except Hannah Rousey. This stand-out student has refused a rather large chunk of change offered by the Nestlé Corporation in the form of a scholarship, based on her uncanny sense of integrity and her views of the company’s destructive attitude toward the environment.
For many, $1,000 dollars doesn’t seem like much, and with today’s outrageous higher education tuition, the Nestlé scholarship might have paid for a few meals in a mess hall, rather than an actual education, but it would have made a big dent in her college expenses.Tuition at the four-year private college will set her back $46,152. Nonetheless, Rousey stands firm in her refusal to take Nestlé corporation’s money.
And why shouldn’t she?
Nestlé has been accused of nearly bringing orangutans to extinction, due to rainforest destruction. They also put high fructose corn syrup made from genetically-modified corn in baby formula (under Gerber and Purity brands), and consistently mislabel their products while fighting against transparency regarding them.
Nestlé repeatedly takes over water supplies in rural towns across the world, only to sell it back to residents at inflated prices. Their CEOs have made it clear that they don’t think potable water is a human right.
Not only is a $1,000 scholarship laughable considering the corporation makes trillions — with more than 450 manufacturing facilities in over 80 countries spread over six continents — but even hard-core industrialists shiver at their business practices. The company has admitted to using slave labor in Thailand, and is currently facing a lawsuit for child labor in the Ivory Coast.
Rousey elevates a simple boycott of Nestlé’s products to the next level, and is refusing to take their public relations scholarship money. The 17-year old is especially staunch in her attitude toward the company, considering her intended major. She’s headed to Sterling College in Vermont where she will pursue a degree in sustainable agriculture and environmental protection law and policy.
In a letter to the Conway Daily Sun she wrote:
“I am grateful for the scholarship I have been awarded, but I cannot in good faith accept money from a company that does not exhibit sustainable and ethical practices.”
She also wrote more extensively about Poland Springs, a Nestlé subsidiary headquartered in Switzerland, and their recent actions in her rural town:
“On average, Poland Spring is now allowed to take up to 603,000 gallons of water per day from Fryeburg’s aquifer. Poland Spring also taps water sources in Poland, Hollis, Pierce Pond Township, Dallas Plantation, Kingfield and Denmark.
“This water is then trucked to the largest bottling facility in the world, located in Hollis, Maine. They offer monies to our towns, schools and organizations to distract us from the fact that they robbing us of our water.”
Rousey also points out that the bottling of the water isn’t sustainable. She reminds us that a single plastic water bottle takes an average of 450 years to biodegrade, with some taking as long as 1,000 years.
If this 17-year-old represents the face of the future — of young people willing to stand up to corporate bullies like Nestlé — it’s looking really bright.
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