The fast food and beverage industries spend billions of dollars annually to create an image for their products. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston says that some of that money would be better spent educating the public about what to do with the leftovers:
The fast food and beverage industries spend billions of dollars annually to create an image for their products. Great Lakes Radio Consortium commentator Suzanne Elston says that some of that money would be better spent educating the public about what to do with the leftovers.
I was walking my dog the other day when she found a real treat right in the middle of the road. Some clown had pitched the remains of a Burger King dinner out their car window – fries, burger, napkins, and drink container – the works. And while Jessie couldn’t wait to roll around in the smashed French fries and burger bits, I was wishing I could find the rightful owner and return it.
Since I couldn’t hope to find the culprit, I decided to do the next best thing. I called the nearest Burger King restaurant and asked to speak to the manager. I told her that I had found something that belonged to her store, and asked if someone could please come and pick it up. She wondered exactly what it was, so I told her.
She said, “Just because our name’s on it, doesn’t mean that it’s our responsibility.”
I am quite sure that the employee who made that statement had no idea how profound it really was. From what I’ve seen, the vast majority of the garbage that makes its way into ditches along our roads is either fast food leftovers or beverage containers. The cheap, disposal nature of carryout packaging has made the entire fast food industry possible. The same can be said for the soft drink industry. They both benefit from the disposability of these items, and yet they appear to bear no responsibility for them.
More importantly, they don’t seem to care. And that’s what I find so interesting. The fast food and soft drink industries spend billions of dollars every year on advertising and promotion. They aren’t just selling products – they engage some of the brightest minds in advertising to help sell an image. What’s so astounding is that none of these marketing geniuses has made the connection between that carefully crafted image and what happens to it when it ends up squashed in a ditch or smeared all over the road. It strikes me that this is really bad public relations.
I understand that the very nature of fast food makes a certain amount of disposable packaging necessary. It’s also understood that it isn’t Burger King or McDonalds or Coca-Cola that’s pitching all this trash in the ditch. But the truth is that they aren’t doing much to discourage it, either. And maybe that’s the point.
The whole convenience food industry needs to work on educating the public about responsibly disposing of their packaging. Rather than packing food into bags at the drive-thru window or take-out counter, fast food restaurants should use litterbags instead. Maybe then consumers would actually think before they roll down the window and pitch.
Somewhere along the line both the fast food restaurants and the consumers have accepted the idea that a tremendous amount of garbage and littering is the price we have to pay for all that convenience. It’s time to re-visit that perception.
From here on, when I see a squashed coffee cup, a flattened Coke can or Big Mac wrapper in the street, I think I’ll be calling the advertised owners and asking them to come and pick up their stuff.