mcdonald'sDon't be deceived by the fact that the Happy Meals are indestructible. Some McDonald's restaurants really are making a move toward being more green -- at least that's what they would have us believe.

A location in Riverside, California is advertising its recent renovation, saying the face-lift has made the restaurant more "eco-friendly, sustainable, and energy efficient." Those are some bold words. So what exactly does that mean?

In addition to a new sign sporting green arches, the restaurant's new green features include:

  • Light-colored hardscaping to reduce heat emissions.
  • Drought-tolerant plants and low-flow plumbing fixtures to cut down on water consumption.
  • More than 250 photovoltaic panels to generate a percentage of the restaurant's power.
  • An interactive touch screen display customers can use to learn about how to reduce their carbon footprint.

These are all commendable accomplishments with a green focus at their core. But there's still the issue of the food -- which allegedly doesn't decompose and doesn't come from sustainable sources.

A similar green-washing incident occurred this summer when billboards advertising that McDonald's used local purveyors appeared in Seattle. The ads showed pictures of McDonald's French fries next to pictures of potatoes that were grown in the neighboring area -- suggesting that the food was indeed local and sustainable.

And here, too, was an example of an attempt at going green that was met with skepticism: Critics wondered if it was enough to brag about local potatoes -- which could very well have just been a happy coincidence -- when all the rest of the McDonald's ingredients were far from sustainable.

In other words, while McDonald's intentions may be admirable, it's going to take a lot more than a bunch of drought-tolerant plants to convince us that we are buying a product from a company that's really interested in sustainable, safe, and humane methods of food production. Try harder, McDonald's.

What do you think about the new green McDonald's?

 

Image via marko8904