McDouble Trouble

Introduction 

McDonald’s is the world’s largest fast-food restaurant chain. The enamored restaurant chain feeds 68 million people every day and makes 75 million US dollars each day. This corporate giant alone has one of the largest cultural, political, economic, and environmental impacts of any company in history. Their influence is one of the strongest in many aspects and life and can change lifestyles globally. However, their track record is far from unsoiled.

The Problem

As one of the world’s largest purchasers of beef, McDonalds uses over 350,000 cattle a year. Its menus are rooted in the suffering and slaughter of millions of animals. The majority of them are intensively farmed, with little access to fresh air or sunlight, as well as little freedom of movement in tight quarters. Needless to say, the quality of life for these animals is atrocious. Along with this, the raising of such farms is labor-intensive and is environmentally costly. A problem that is surprisingly an issue with cattle is the  large amount of farts released by cows into the atmosphere. Farts produce methane, a chemical that is “80 times the warming power of carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it reaches the atmosphere” (Methane: A Crucial Opportunity in the Climate Fight) is a major contributor to the global warming crisis. McDonald’s receives their meat from privatized farms. Within these privatized farms, their practices include many unethical ones because they are not held responsible for their accountability. These farms are major contributors to the deforestation of large jungles and forests that displace many forms of wildlife all for creating cattle farms. The destruction of rainforests is used to grow grain for the large livestock and poultry demand globally. Soybean farms, which are the cheapest way of feeding poultry, are also a contributor to mass deforestation and a major contributor to greenhouse gasses. This increasing demand only incentivizes them to continue to keep up with demand and increase their profits. 

Mcdonalds promise

 The good news is that Mcdonald’s is taking some sort of accountability. On their website, they have updated their plans for a more sustainable future. Among the many promises, important ones the company plans on fulfilling are: 

  • Packaging and waste

There is a lot of waste that is created from a single order. Just think of the wrapper, cup, lid, straw, napkin, bag, etc. it takes to serve one person. A lot of the packaging is unnecessary.

  • Sustainable Agriculture & Beef

There is no real way of sustaining beef. McDonald’s must find new ways of serving food with different ingredients to move towards a greener future. A good way would be to implement plant-based options and their agriculture needs to be restructured to successfully serve their promise of eliminating deforestation.

  • Water Stewardship

          Too much water is sacrificed for the convenience of quickly watering plants.

“Where McDonald’s goes, usually the rest of the restaurant industry eventually follows,” said Sara Senatore, a senior research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., who focuses on the restaurant industry. “It’s hard for other companies not to follow suit eventually” (Washington Post, 2021) .

On their website, the plan overall is to move towards a much more “sustainable future” by 2030. On the surface, this seems like a good thing, but it is not enough. These promises should realistically be placed in effect immediately, but they are not. As a company, they are more worried about their image and that is the issue. A great benefit to McDonalds promise is that other large fast-food chains will see this and follow suit.It is how other companies get good press and remain competitive, so it is overall not the worst problem to have.

What you can do 

There is no doubt that McDonalds number one  priority is to line their pockets with as much money as possible, but by continuing to pressure them and making decisions on the individual level, people will be able to have a positive effect on the environment. McDonalds ,of course, is not alone in this problem and all of the restaurant industry should be held accountable. One of the best ways to combat this is to eat home-cooked meals. Besides all the great environmental impacts meals cooked at home can have, your health will also substantially improve. 

“It takes seven kilocalories of energy to produce food, but processing, packaging, and transporting it takes another ten. In plain language, that means it takes more than double the amount of energy to process food than it does to grow it”(Forbes, 2012). 

As a society, we should take strides to also improve our lifestyles. There is extensive research that has revealed the multitude of evidence that advocates for cooking at home. Why wouldn’t anyone want to increase their quality of life? Making meals at home allows you to acquire sustainable foods, waste less food, use less energy, and it also has a lower environmental effect. The best way to implement this lifestyle is to try incorporating a plant-based diet. McDonalds is just one of the many dynastic food chains that need to be held accountable for their actions, thus stay out of the McTrouble!

Sources:

Siegel, Rachel. “McDonald’s Announces Major Environmental Goals for 2030, Sending a Signal to the Restaurant Industry.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 28 Mar. 2019, http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/business/wp/2018/03/21/mcdonalds-announces-green-initiatives-for-2030-and-sends-a-signal-to-the-restaurant-industry/.  

“If McDonald’s Is Serious about Reducing Its Carbon Footprint, It May Need to Rethink the Hamburger.” The Counter, 14 Jan. 2020, thecounter.org/mcdonalds-greenhouse-gas-emissions-reduction-pledge-beef/. 

What’s Wrong with McDonald’s?, http://www.mcspotlight.org/campaigns/translations/trans_uk.html. 

https://corporate.mcdonalds.com/corpmcd/our-purpose-and-impact/our-planet.html

“40 Interesting Facts about McDonald’s.” Serious Facts, 24 July 2020, http://www.seriousfacts.com/mcdonalds-facts/. 

“Methane: A Crucial Opportunity in the Climate Fight.” Environmental Defense Fund, http://www.edf.org/climate/methane-crucial-opportunity-climate-fight. 

Hoffman, Beth. “What’s So Great About Cooking? Four Reasons (and Resources) to DIY.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 13 Aug. 2012, http://www.forbes.com/sites/bethhoffman/2012/06/18/whats-so-great-about-cooking-four-reasons-and-resources-to-diy/?sh=678d58a35756. 

EcoHouse Teens Interview & Collaboration

Recently, Eco-Youth had the amazing opportunity to have a social media interview with Mardet Mulugeta, an EcoHouse Teens executive. We are so excited to work with such a hard-working, current, and an on the rise team that is similar to Eco-Youth. EcoHouse Teens are educating and preparing teens all over the world to make ethical and environmentally consumer and lifestyle choices through their campaigns.

Briefly introduce yourself to the audience and tell us about your journey – where do you live, study, work, and what are you doing at the moment? 

Hi! My name is Mardet and I am currently a senior at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. Some of my hobbies are photography, fashion, and dancing. Right now, I am in the middle of applying to college and managing my organization’s Food Campaign 🙂

What is EcoHouse Teens? How was it founded? What issues does it address and what is its main goal(s)?

EcoHouse Teens is an organization with a mission to make teens more informed about how they can be sustainable. We are basically a group of teens who want to spread awareness of what anyone, specifically other teens, can do to help limit their harm on the environment. My friend Zeinab and I came up with the idea to create this organization over the summer when we were both quarantined. We had different interests, I was concerned with the fashion industry while she was more interested in the food industry, but we decided that we could really do something together if we merge our ideas into one!

In your own words, define sustainability. What got you interested in sustainability and what is your relation to the topic? How do you believe sustainability and the topics of food, fashion, and lifestyle go hand in hand?

Sustainability is trying to maintain a lifestyle that benefits everything more than it harms anything. I personally got interested in sustainability in my Human Geography class, where we learned how awful the fashion industry is and how much waste it produces year to year. I decided then that I would stop buying clothes I don’t need, and I tried to limit shopping from brands known to be part of the problem. While I was more concerned with the clothes I buy/wear, I realized soon enough that everything around me can harm the environment one way or another. The toxins in my cleaning products, the foods I waste, the plastic bags I get from stores, everything around me could potentially cause more pollution. That was why when Zeinab and I decided to create an organization, we tried to look at the bigger picture and attack as many problems as we could instead of focusing just on the food/fashion industry.

What action do you believe everyone could/should be involved in to create a positive change and impact on climate change and the environment? What are you most excited about for the future?

I think a big part of causing change is being informed. If everyone knew what fast fashion is and how much waste comes from the food industry, more people would be willing to change their lifestyles. Sustainable living is unfortunately a privilege; it can get very expensive to buy organic products that produce less waste and sustainable clothes that last a while. However, even if you cannot be fully sustainable right now, you can still try your best in being as sustainable as you can. I do have hope in our future and I think that a lot of us are moving in the right direction. I am excited to see our future, as time goes on and our fight against climate change grows stronger. 

Do you have any advice for people who want to help the environment, particularly fight climate change, but don’t know where to start? What advice can you give for similar organizations like yours, such as Eco-Youth, that will help them to keep posting and growing their platform?

My advice would be to start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to cut out everything that is deemed unsustainable, because that is simply not realistic. Try to buy less clothes than you do right now. Join some sort of club or organization where you can talk with other people who want to help the environment. Do some research on your own, if that interests you. Just try to incorporate this idea of sustainability into your life little by little. As for other organizations, I would say try to reach out to people. If you know a local activist who is fighting the same fight as you, reach out and see if they would like to talk with your organization. Attend some webinars and connect with other organizations. We are still small at EcoHouse, and I still have lots to learn, but those are just a few things I picked up over the past few months.

How was your first campaign that attacked fast fashion? Tell us more about it.

Our first campaign was pretty successful. It was the first time we launched EcoHouse Teens, so we had to wait some time before people got to see our content. It was really fun to interview local sustainable shop owners, and we even got to create a fun video on how to use Depop! Overall, I think our campaign was great, especially considering it was our first time operating as an organization. Zeianb and I dedicated a lot of time into making sure it went by smoothly and we are more than happy with how it turned out.

What is the second campaign that is currently occurring? How is Eco-Youth collaborating with EcoHouse Teens to contribute to this campaign?

Our second campaign is concerned with the food industry. We are trying to inform people on how the food industry contributes to pollution, workers’ abuse, and other serious issues. We try to post information that would allow people to take action and limit their contribution to an unsustainable industry. We are so excited to collaborate with Eco-Youth on this campaign because we are all for working with other youth organizations. Eco-Youth and EcoHouse both have a similar mission, and Eco-Youth is helping us by getting our campaign out there to their audience through these articles. We are so excited to see what can come from our collaboration!

What great things do EcoHouse Teens plan to do next? What is its future beyond the campaigns?

Our hope is to continue spreading awareness and engaging with other teens. In the future, we hope to have branches in different places that spread our mission. In order to cause real change, we need both the people who can demand for change and the people that can implement those changes. We hope that our voices will be heard by our elected officials, who can create laws that will cause the change we need. Our main goal will always be to spread awareness because being informed is step one of causing permanent change.

Where can people learn more about you and EcoHouse Teens?

You can find us on Instagram @ecohouseteens . We also have a Medium where we post some articles @ecohouseteens . We are currently working on a website, so make sure to follow our Instagram for more updates on us!

Check out EcoHouse Teens’s other socials at linktr.ee/ecohouseteenz.
Keep posted on our collaboration by checking out our website for the articles in the following weeks.

5 Sustainable Jewelry Shops

The fast-fashion industry has millions of consumers that buy poorly made trendy jewelry that will be thrown out after a few wears. Not only does this waste resources, but it exposes producers to toxic materials. New movements have increasingly focused on sustainability in many different industries. These new movements have raised questions about how the environment is impacted by fast fashion. 

1. Ana Luisa

Ana Luisa is a new company, founded in 2019. Their collections are released in small and limited batches each Friday to ensure the highest production standards and eliminate excess waste. Ana Luisa was founded to bring clarity to the jewelry industry. 

2. 31 Bits

31 Bits was founded in 2008 when a group of college students became aware of single mothers in Uganda. This company works with artisans in Uganda to make high-quality jewelry. 31 Bits employs women and cares for its workers by offering numerous amenities. Anything this jewelry brand does is funded by their product sales, which means any purchases impacts women in Uganda 

3. Aurate

Aurate was founded in 2015 in New York City. Its jewelry is inspired by everything from the Brooklyn Bridge to doorknobs. Sustainability and ethics play a major role in its philosophy. Aurate uses ethically sourced and sustainably made metals and gems.

4. Catbird

Catbird was founded in 2004, in New York City. Catbird has its own line of jewelry that’s made in Catbird’s Brooklyn studio with ethically sourced diamonds. It also became famous for its permanent jewelry, which became a trend.

5. Mejuri 

Mejuri was founded in 1953 and is one of the better-known jewelry companies. It has a focus on everyday jewelry, as opposed to the things you usually only wear on special occasions. Mejuri is also known for ditching traditional markups, and the brand uses ethically sourced diamonds and cultured pearls.

5 Sustainable Online Stores

Trying to shop sustainably online can be very difficult. It’s hard to tell if an online shop will have eco-friendly shipping procedures, if they are true to their word, or most importantly if they are a scam. These are our favorite sustainable shops where you can get almost all of your day-to-day needs. All the shops are dedicated to reducing the amount of excessive plastic in shipping and throughout their products. 

*It’s important to note that you should please use up all the products you have already at your home before purchasing sustainable products. If you throw away items that could still be used it actually creates more waste. 

1. Package Free

Package Free is a great option for anyone getting started on the journey towards sustainable living. They have premade zero-waste kits to help make your transition easier. The website is conveniently laid out and all of their products adhere to the “Package Free Standard”. This standard means that all their products ship plastic-free, are carbon-neutral, and give back to the environmental protection community. 

2. Public Goods

If you are looking for a very inexpensive option, look no further than Public Goods. With a membership price of $59, you have access to a wide variety of sustainable products. For every new member, Public Goods plant a tree and sell tree-free products. While they do sell products that are in plastic, the plastic is BioPlastic (which is made from sugarcane) and those same constraints are reusable and refillable. Not to mention, they donate extra inventory to different charities instead of throwing it all away. 

3. Eco Roots

Eco Roots is another great option for all of your household essentials. All of their products are plastic-free and completely recyclable. Their shipping is plastic-free and in 100% recyclable material. For every sale made, a portion of it is donated to the Ocean Conservancy Project which helps keep our oceans clean and healthy.

4. Earth Easy

For all of your gardening and composting needs, look no further than Earth Easy. They have a huge variety of gardening tools, as well as tons of other products. For each order made, Earth Easy plants a tree. In addition, they have their carbon emissions balanced by a company called TerraPass, and they have partnered with the EPA Watersense to promote water conservation. Even their office is eco-friendly, as it’s completely paper-free, energy-efficient has compost food leftovers, and reuses shipping boxes when possible. 

5. Earth Hero

Earth Hero has a wider variety than some non-sustainable stores. Options range from cleaning supplies to pet supplies, and even tech products. They are B CORP certified, meaning that they have met the highest standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. They are completely carbon neutral through Carbonfund.org, annually donate 1% of their sales towards sustainability initiatives and organizations, and have offices that are completely zero waste.