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Corporations Must Evolve Beyond Capitalizing on Sustainability

Op/Ed By George Payne –


new george payneMcDonald’s has vowed to get rid of all non-recyclable packaging by 2025. Dunkin’ Donuts has followed suit by pledging to use paper coffee cups instead of foam cups by 2020.

Forgive me for sounding cynical, but don’t these moves feel a bit underwhelming? If McDonald’s wanted to introduce a new variety of bacon cheeseburger, the product would be invented, patented, manufactured, and distributed all over the world in months. It would not take seven years.

More radical changes are needed than seven-year phase-in plans. The way that these fast food companies slaughter animals needs to change now. The money they spend on advertisements, compared with community development, needs to change now.

Their waste of water needs to change now. The way their employees are treated needs to change now. The toxins that are put into their foods needs to change now. The lack of nutritious value in their meals needs to change now.

In her book “This Changes Everything,” the Canadian author Naomi Klein writes: “For a quarter of a century, we have tried the approach of polite incremental change, attempting to bend the physical needs of the planet to our economic model’s need for constant growth and new profit-making opportunities. The results have been disastrous, leaving us all in a great deal more danger than when the experiment began.”

Klein goes on to state: “A powerful message spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinction is telling us that we need an entirely new economic model, and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us that we need to evolve.”

What we don’t need is McDonald’s to turn sustainability into another way for their company to make money. And we certainly do not need to congratulate Dunkin’ Donuts if it is just masking how it really pollutes. What we need is evolutionary change. We need these corporations to understand that their very business model is out of sync with the needs of the planet.

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(Disclaimer: The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)