We’re going to be taking a trip by car in a few days and we usually stop for fast food while on the road. I did some on-line searches to see which fast food companies (that we might consider) offered their products in containers that were “more friendly” to the environment. This would include packaging that was recyclable as well as products that were made with recycled or sustainable products. Materials that would not fit those criteria would include Styrofoam and other plastics. One article I found, recently written, reported that McDonalds has announced that by 2025, it would make 100% of its packaging from “renewable, recycled, or certified sources. McDonalds had already set a goal that by 2020 all its fiber-based packaging would come from recycled or certified sources. The article went on to describe the significant amount of land-fill that fast-food packaging contributes. While there are groups (e.g., the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a non-profit based in New York) that advocate for companies to be more responsible, individuals (like me) can make my views known to companies as well as “vote with my pocketbook” regarding which companies I choose to do business.
One fast food restaurant that we frequent is Wendy’s. Wendy’s annually reports on its “Corporate Environmental Sustainability & Responsibility”[ with its most recent report issued April, 2018. The report covers many aspects (e.g., using energy saving lighting, recycling cooking oil, and responsible sourcing from its suppliers). Regarding packaging, Wendy’s reported the “challenges” regarding packaging – but not too many reportable results.
We also enjoy Subway which also released a report in April, 2018 that describes its efforts, and results, and things the customer can do to participate in generating less trash. This report provides overall product sourcing from recycled products and suggests that “skipping the plastic bag”. (Subway announced the elimination of plastic bags in Australia by the end of 2017.) Subway can do more in the U.S. but they’ve done a lot; and a reminder that while companies can do some things (such as source better) customers can also play a role. So, it turns out with a few clicks, anyone can investigate what companies are saying they are doing to promote a sustainable planet – by saving energy, by packaging better, by sourcing their raw materials better, and recycling. So, note to self: as I encounter fast food companies (or other companies), I plan to pay a lot more attention to how things are packaged and when it seems that it can be better, I plan to (1) provide my input to the company, (2) share my observations with others, and (3) vote with my pocketbook. Regarding our upcoming trip, if we stop for fast food, we’ll probably stop at Subway or McDonald’s. Or perhaps better, we could just stop at eat-in restaurants or diners, which serve their food on washable plates and glassware, where disposable food packaging isn’t an issue at all.