An Open Letter to McDonald’s: Prioritize Sustainability Now

Dear McDonald’s,

Thank you for deciding to read this letter. Please know that I am humbled that you have given this letter your precious time.

Firstly, I would like to emphasize that I love your products, especially your Potato Fries, which are the best in the world for me. Unfortunately, after multiple attempts, I decided to stop buying from your stores because, I am trying to live a Zero Waste Lifestyle and your company’s current protocol does not allow me to purchase anything from your stores package-free. That may not be the main reason for the creation of this letter, but that specific issue made me realize how influential businesses are to lives of common individuals, as well as the role of businesses to change the world for the better.

This letter has only one request to McDonald’s: Please prioritize sustainability. NOT in the next years as stated in your 2020 Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability Plans and 2025 Goals on Renewable, Recycled, and Certified Packaging Sources. Absolutely NOT in the next decade as stated in your 2030 Goal of reducing 36% of your In-house Greenhouse Gas emissions, but now. Your goals and promises are well appreciated, but you see, there is no room for waiting. To quote from Forbes; “By 2030, emissions need to be about 45% below what they were in 2010, and by 2050 we should not emit anything overall.” There is no room for hoping because having hope in this environmental crisis is lethal. The only thing right to do is aggressively act on real solutions, and we have to do it now.

As much as I would like to cover all sustainability issues from your food, energy consumption, and all the other things, I will not pretend that I am knowledgeable about all of it. Instead, this letter will focus on something that has affected me directly, your Packaging. And as the biggest fast food chain in the world with 37,000 restaurants and 69 million customers each day, McDonald’s uses “nearly 2.8 tonnes of packaging every minute, representing nearly 1.5 million tonnes of packaging per year” according to Resource. Packaging is perhaps your most pressing issue.

Sustainability over Convenience

I don’t want your beautifully packaged on-the-go servings if that means McDonald’s will continue to produce thousands and thousands of tons of solid wastes periodically. Not to mention, the emitted millions of metric tons of greenhouse gases from the production, transportation, and waste management of those packaging. What is wrong with using reusable containers and cutleries? What is wrong with avoiding packaging? What is wrong with allowing your customers to use their own containers? What are you afraid of? Are you afraid of losing your customers’ patronage over your stand on sustainability?

I know that you are doing a lot of initiatives to lessen your environmental impact, but if you truly are for sustainability, your first choice wouldn’t be Recycling and Biodegradable Packaging, because you ultimately know that the key is to “Refuse.” And if what’s stopping you from refusing packaging is your customers’ interest, this letter is one proof that as your customers, our interest is leaning towards sustainability.

Sustainability over Cost

Packaging is necessary, especially for takeouts, that’s a fact. But throughout the years, there have been better sustainable alternatives for plastic packaging. To mention some; the Cassava Bio Bags, wooden stirrers, Paper Straws, and all those 100% biodegradable packaging. All those years and McDonald’s is still not doing the switch, or if you did for some items, it took you a very long time before doing so. I only have one idea why. Plastic is cheap and it’s obvious that you have always placed cost over sustainability.

Yes, business is business and you would argue that you have a good recycling program, but when your customer takes out food, eats the food, and throws the plastic packaging to the sea, would you be able to do anything about it? For every cup, plastic straw, plastic bag, and plastic lid that can be seen littering around, McDonald’s is equally accountable to it. What more are you willing to compromise and until when? Nothing in whatever excuse you say will matter. It is just simply unacceptable.

Kindly excuse the straightforwardness of this letter. I’ve watched kids from around the world rallying for months and I have been moved by them, but many of the rich and the powerful are still not bothering to blink an eye. From that, I learned that one must speak clearly and one must have the courage to point fingers, in order to be heard and to be understood.

If this letter has actually reached McDonald’s, it only means that many people from around the world, share the same sentiments. In this era, people are changing. We no longer let the powerful define the norm. That is actually why these letters are created; to encourage you to join us in this aggressive fight for our future, or be left behind. Your choice.

Lastly, I have prepared a signed petition for this request to show you the public’s sincerity and passion for sustainability. In the petition are also the specific requests that the signed individuals would like McDonald’s to partake. Kindly access and choose the latest version of the petition through this QR Code:

McDo Petition Folder

Thank you,

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