McDonald’s and Recycling

Stayokay Maastrichtmcdonalds_recycling.jpg

Did I take this picture in the U.S.?  Ha!  I wish!  No, I took it in Salzburg, Austria last summer when I travelled to Europe with a few college buddies.  Ah, I love Europe!  One day, I need to blog about some of my experiences there.

One remarkable thing about the culture there was its energy-efficient and environmentally conscious mindset.  What would it take for a McDonald’s in the U.S. to do the same thing that it’s doing in this Salzburg establishment?  Sorting refuse into bins of paper, food, cups, and…  It looks like plastic or miscellaneous items…

Ah, Europe… 

Escalators that take you between the depths of the Munich U-Bahn subway system and street level that automatically change direction depending on whether people are at the bottom or at the top of the escalators!


Or how about a hostel – a HOSTEL! – in Maastricht, the Netherlands, with lights wired to motion detectors!  But more than that, each INDIVIDUAL overhead light (spaced a few feet apart), had its OWN motion detector so when you’re walking down the hallway to your room, the lights turn on in succession!  I almost felt like a movie star with a spotlight following me around!  😀  Or actually, I felt more like Q-Bert from my cousin’s old Commodore 64 video game, bouncing to the next square – hop-hop-hop!

Stayokay Maastricht

Stayokay Maastricht, an excellent hostel.  I must have jumped under all of these lights… They are all on…  Bad Jane…

Oh, but I have a love-hate relationship with motion detectors…  I love it for everything except for toilets and sinks.  As they are designed now, that is.  Toilets always seem to flush when I don’t want them to, and faucets never detect my hands!  A few times in Europe, I felt like I had to do a hokey-pokey dance to try to find the motion detector for the light.  It turns out that in one hostel in Rome, there was an actual SWITCH that nobody seemed to know how to activate…  But before I finally flagged down an employee, I sure did feel like a fool jumping up and down!  I guess I had just come to EXPECT these energy-saving practices everywhere in Europe.

So, back to McDonald’s.  What would it take for us Americans to recycle more?

Now, notice the “cup” bin.  Waste disposal is often charged by weight, and I’m not sure if this case study I read about involved McDonald’s, but a company was able to convince Europeans to pour out their liquids before disposing their cups.  American practices and mindset are harder to change…

On a related note, Daniel Esty and Andrew Winston’s book Green to Gold…  Read it if you haven’t already.  For a taste, the first chapter is online on his official site.  It’s a great book with case studies of ways that businesses have started to incorporate environmental thinking into their corporate strategies and practices while looking at their “triple bottom line.”

Ah, I love it… (If you can’t tell, and you probably can’t, I’m being sarcastic here…)  Every field has it’s own jargon…  I guess I need to stop being so reticent to use specialized jargon…

2 Responses

  1. Well, the McDonald’s employee had just pulled the bins out and walked away for a brief moment. She must have thought I was crazy when I snapped the pictures.

    Yeah… They don’t seem to like it when I take pictures of their menus/prices either… A McDonald’s employee in Amsterdam became very upset with me as she told me photos were not allowed!

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