The kids are fighting, your head is pounding, the car is overheating, and a McDonald’s is right across the road. What do you do? Make a tire screaming u-turn, of course, and forget every promise you ever made to never let your kids eat fast food.
Let’s face it, most of us are going to end up in a fast food restaurant whether we like it or not. But there are a few ways you can do to tweak things in a healthier direction.
Let’s read on to see seven different ways you can green your fast food.
1. Choose Healthier Fast Food.
If you’re in an area with a choice of restaurants, go for the one that offers what you want. Some great new organic fast food joints are popping up here and there.
You can also zero in on conventional fast food restaurants that are adding healthier menu items. Fatburgr.com is one website that catalogs nutrition information for many different fast food chains in a user-friendly format.
2. Recycle Fast Food Containers and Stuff.
Recycle: Instead of dumping the entire tray of detritus from your meal into the trash, take off and clean, dry paper products and recycle them at home. Same goes for sturdy plastic cups and containers. Or, you can wash them out and re-use them.
Precycle: You can also choose to patronize fast food restaurants that use more recyclable paper products and less plastic bags or Styrofoam products.
Reuse: Bringing your own cutlery and cloth napkins is another way to cut down on fast food trash. The only trick is remembering to bring them.
Compost: If you have a compost pile, you can give the fast food waste to it (minus any leftover meat products).
3. Fast Food Without Toys.
Many fast food toys become instant throwaways. When there’s a choice, avoid the restaurants that give out toys. If your kids need something to keep them busy, you can keep a few coloring books stashed in the car where they’re handy for unexpected restaurant trips.
4. Fast Food Without Cars
Idling in the drive-through lane wastes gas and causes unnecessary pollution. You can cut down simply by avoiding the drive-through lane. When there’s a choice, you can also skip the car entirely and walk or bike to your meal.
5. Invent Your Own Fast Food.
Who said you can only get fast food in a restaurant? If you’re in the habit of cooking, it’s easy to make your own fast food ahead of time. Freezing a big batch of food in small portions is the trick.
Keeping a short list of a few easy-to-make meals also helps. If you live near a farmer’s market, ask the vendors about their favorite fast recipes.
6. Bring Your Own Fast Food.
Put some healthy road snacks and drinks in the car, even if you’re just out for a quick errand. It’s a good way to avoid unanticipated side trips to a fast food restaurant.
7. Learn About Fast Food.
Supersize Me, the 2004 Academy Award-nominated documentary about one man’s attempt to eat only fast food for a month, is an unexpectedly kid-friendly, entertaining look at the connection between obesity and fast food. It’s available from Netflix and other rental chains.
Supersize Me might go over some heads, but after watching this documentary, your older kids may find the whole idea of fast food a lot less appealing.
image: Small Town OK on flickr.com under creative commons.
Jamie Ervin says
There is one fast food restaurant around here I like, Burgerville. They use compostable straws + cups, have recycled paper products, source local foods (and hormone free beef, cage free eggs, etc…) and treat their employees remarkably well (providing health insurance for employees who work at least 20 or 25 hours a week). They also always feature in season, local foods (walla, walla onions, sweet potato fries, hazelnut milkshakes).
Of course, it’s not good for the waste line… but some sweet potato fries and a berry shake… that’s Heavenly!
Oh… they also do better things in their kids meals, like giving play-clay or crayons made by a local company from previously used crayons.
We still avoid fast food whenever possible… but it’s great to see options out there!
The phrase “greening fast food” contains a giant oxymoron. It’s like the McDonald’s with a green roof; it’s still a McDonalds. It still encourages people to burn fuel traveling to the restaurant, to create extra exhaust sitting in the drive-through, to eat food whose components are transported from a distance, consume burgers made from cattle (the farming of which is considered one of the major contributors to our climate problems) and contribute to the tons of waste from the packaging McDonald’s uses in every store around the globe.
Sorry, ain’t nothing green about McDonald’s.
I grew up in the NW and adore Burgerville. I wish something similar would open on the East Coast, but for now we settle for Chipotle. They have rBGH-free dairy and are working to increase purchasing of organic and locally-sourced products. Sure, it’s not as good as eating at home, but it’s so nice to at least have a greenish option.