Fast food and “going green” are not often words linked with one another. No offense to the fast food chains of the world, but I don’t typically feel like I’m doing the environment, or my body, any sort of service by eating at these establishments. But there are some fast food chains that are doing things right in regards to recycling. Boloco is doing it right. The chain is going boldly where no fast food chain has gone before. Del Taco might tell you to “Go Bold or Go Home,” but when you hear what Boloco is doing, you might take heed and go straight to Boloco. Recently, on a lengthy road trip up to Boston, I stumbled upon one chain that was new to me called Boloco. I chose it based on three criteria: I was hungry, they had burritos and I hadn’t tried those burritos before. I could have easily visited Chipotle across the street, but I figured I’d aim for something new. I don’t often eat fast food because of how I feel afterwards. I figured if I was going to trade in the settled feeling in my stomach, it might as well be for something I hadn’t tasted before. I went to the counter, ordered a burrito, sat down and ate it. As I was sitting there, I noticed something interesting. The writing on the cup had the following statement on the side, “this cup grew up in blair, nebraska. really, it did. it’s made entirely of plants & is 100% compostable.” I couldn’t believe it. Was it a gimmick? Probably, I thought. It’s a fast food chain after all. And like all other fast food chains, I figured this one might be telling a lie. Like any of those times chains have shown false advertisements of what their food looks like. Or the times they have purposely changed what they have fed to us here in the U.S. vs other countries. I’ll keep this rant to a minimum for the sake of the article, but know, my suspicion of such a claim was warranted. I thought little of the writing on my cup until my visit to dispose of my trash. When I got to the trash can, I was surprised to see not one, not two, but three cans, bearing the labels: “Compost,” “Trash” and “Recycling.” That’s when I knew something was different about this particular restaurant. Suddenly the cup didn’t seem like a gimmick after all. I saw a reference to Green Certified Restaurants while I was in Boloco, and after I got home and did some Googling, I found most of the chains (possibly even all) are 2-Star Green Certified Restaurants. According to the dinegreen.org website, this means that Boloco has complied with all of the following. Although they aren’t 4 or 3-star certified, even being 2-star certified is more than could be said for any other fast food chain I could think of off the top of my head. McDonald’s and PepsiCo only seem to have vague references to sustainability efforts. Chains similarly sized to Boloco are making their own strides in sustainability. While it isn’t green certified, Eegee’s in Tuscon, Arizona, is making a large effort in reducing its impact on the environment. It sells canola oil to be converted to biodiesel fuel and re-uses or sells cardboard to a used-box company or for the public for moving. These types of actions are being done by chains like Eegee’s and Boloco that are very small in size, but imagine if the larger chains were doing this? Think about if a company the size of McDonald’s took on sustainability efforts. If a $60-plus-billion-dollar company put a little more effort into sustainability and a little bit less effort into “What new plastic toy can we make?” just think of the outcomes we might see. Maybe fewer new types of plastic toys in Happy Meals that cause children to choke. Or even better, less plastic ending up in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Le Pain Quotidien is another fast food chain promoting sustainability efforts. With locations in the U.S., the U.K. and Paris, and catering in locations worldwide, the company explained in a friendly statement on its website, “…We source organic products whenever possible, and our packaging is eco-friendly and recyclable. We encourage our catering clients to return wooden platters and will happily facilitate pickups at your convenience. In an effort to reduce waste, please let us know if you do not require utensils, plates and napkins.” This is very helpful way to not only promote sustainability but to also share tips with people on how to be more environmentally conscious. Even if we’re not going out and ordering fast food, we should be thinking along the lines of what Le Pain Quotidien is saying. If we don’t require utensils, plates and napkins, we shouldn’t put them out. If we can re-use plastic bags or other types of platters or tins, we should be doing so. Fast food chains are starting to think green and this is very important to a hundred-billion-dollar industry. These restaurants have a huge impact on the environment. Keep in mind, recycling isn’t the only part of the fast food industry under scrutiny. UConn PIRG is making a lot of efforts to help campaign for the use of antibiotic-free meat. Other groups are also trying to campaign the fast food industry to only use sustainable meat. Sustainability extends into so many aspects of the production and sale of food, especially at the rate fast food is doing these things. Hopefully, in the coming years, we will see more Boloco’s and Eegee’s of the world, setting the standard for how fast food is done. This would put a little bit of pressure on industry leaders like McDonald’s and KFC.
Green Certified Fast Food
Eating fast food doesn’t mean eating bad and harming the environment. Some chains are changing the industry by being both good for you and the environment.