Back in the summer of 2012, SodaStream opened its first ‘EcoStream’ store in Brighton. SodaStream is an Israeli manufacturer of machines for making fizzy water at home. The store was marketed as ‘a filling station for the eco-aware’ – a place where green-minded Brightonians could get their bottles of cooking oil and washing up liquid refilled, and stock up on SodaStream products. The company chose Brighton as the location for its first UK eco-store because of the town’s reputed support for green initiatives and green politics.
It is rare indeed to see anyone shopping at EcoStream. This is no doubt due in part to the fact that the boycott campaign is now very well known in the town. Brighton residents are not stupid – they can see complicity with human rights abuses when they see it, and want no part of it. The shop is haemorrhaging money, but the company seems content to keep it open, continually refilling its accounts with recycled cash, so as not to lose face.
So, a year and a half after opening ‘the first EcoStream store in the UK’, what has happened to SodaStream’s expansionist dreams? SodaStream’s intention was that, by late 2013, the UK would be awash with eco-bubbles. The fact is that they still have only one shop, and it is taking a regular pounding. At the time of writing, there is nothing on the company’s website suggesting that the expansion plan is still alive. The probability is that they have radically but quietly revised their business plan, and have abandoned the expansion project due in large part to the noisy reception they have received in Brighton. And they must now realise that, wherever in the UK they try to open another shop, local pro-Palestinian activists will follow Brighton’s lead and make life difficult.
In a sense this is a disappointing development, since we would prefer to inflict even more damage on this deeply unethical company. Opening up new fronts in the international campaign of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions would be helpful, but this is still a huge win for the campaign!