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Pick Pepsi over Coca-Cola

By Jessie Kallman
The Western Courier (Western Illinois University)
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April 2, 2007

Pepsi or Coke? Which do you prefer? People usually have a strong preference one way or the other. When it comes to students across the nation, Pepsi is preferred.

PEPSI PEPSI, COKE CHOKES! This has become a common chant among students on different campuses around the nation.

In the past few years, as universities have been choosing between Pepsi and Coke, student governments around the nation have been consistent in choosing Pepsi - not because of its delicious taste, but because of Coca-Cola's actions (and lack thereof) abroad.

Since Columbia remains a place where workers have limited rights, a few Colombians have attempted to organize in efforts to gain better safety standards. Among these organizers have been bottlers for the Coca Cola bottling plants. The people who have spoken out have been murdered, captured and tortured.

However, Coca-Cola sits back as paramilitary groups in Columbia continue to commit violent acts against their employees for requesting safer environments in the workplace. Although this has been a problem for decades, the injustices performed in Coca-Cola bottling plants across Columbia have become more well-known as universities begin to resign contracts.

While Coke fails to react to the violence being inflicted on its employees who do request safer work environments, it remains hands-on when it comes to polluting India. Communities around many Coca-Cola plants in India are facing severe water shortages as the plants continue to extract massive amounts of water from the common groundwater resources. The water left for the community is extracted by digging deeper into the earth for moisture. This procedure is unsafe and leaves water more polluted, especially as Coca-Cola continues to dump its waste in local grounds and rivers.

In attempt to gain more profit, Coca-Cola learned to sell its waste in the form of fertilizer to farmers until the BBC reported a study that found cadmium and lead in the product.

Safety standards, lack of protection against violence for employees, hogging of water in places with water shortages and pollution are all reasons students across the nation have urged their institutions to refrain from signing contracts with Coca-Cola.

Over 25 schools, including the University of Michigan, Rutgers University and New York University, have banned Coca-Cola from their campuses. Student Governments at these schools have passed strongly worded resolutions on to administrations to make sure the crooked business of Coca-Cola doesn't profit from their soda money.

Despite campaigns that have been launched by Coca-Cola's public relations representatives, students across the nation continue to choose Pepsi and continue to fight hard to see that the truth about Coca Cola is told. Students have also been acting out against Coca-Cola by protesting on campus.

Next time you have to choose between Pepsi and Coke, remember these stories. As members of the consumer nation, it's important that we hold our businesses accountable and show them that we do not appreciate the way they mistreat their workers and their communities abroad. Although our jobs are being shipped overseas, companies cannot misrepresent our nation by causing problems to our global community.

Just pick Pepsi.

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