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Starbucks and True Food Kitchen stop using water from drought-stricken California

Posted at 4:07 PM, May 19, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-20 15:49:24-04

As California enters its fourth year of drought, some companies are moving operations to lessen environmental damage to the state.

The drought is so extreme that Governor Jerry Brown imposed mandatory cutbacks to reduce water usage by 25 percent.

A recent poll finds almost half of California residents said they will find it hard to conserve any more water, and some of the country's most-popular chains are helping out by removing certain California items from the menu.

Brand Executive Chef Arik Markus says True Food Kitchen Restaurants are switching almond sources from California to Spain. It's not the cheapest substitute, but Markus says it won't affect your wallet.

"We're definitely eating the higher price and not passing it on to our guests, but we feel it's a more important thing than driving a profit and loss statement," said Markus.

Starbucks is also moving its Ethos bottled-water operation from California to Pennsylvania over the next 6 months. It's a change that is praised by advocacy groups.

Starbucks donates 5 cents from each bottle of Ethos sold. The company says they've raised more than $12.3 million to fund water sanitation and education programs in Latin America, Africa and Indonesian.

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Some big-name firms are now under fire for not making changes.

Walmart's Great Value bottled water comes from the Sacramento city supply, and there are thousands of signatures on a petition to stop Nestle from bottling California water.

The USGS says only 1 percent of the state's water goes to industrial use, but many consumers say it's about  doing the right thing.

"I think it's important for companies of all kinds, and for us as a restaurant company, to have more of a consciousness about who our business impacts: our guests, endorse, partners in the community and the communities themselves," said Arik Markus.

California residents are frustrated by the drought and some are criticizing their neighbors on social media, using the hashtag, "drought shaming."

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian are also being targeted for having perfectly green lawns.