I like Five Guys well enough. In fact, last week, I ate there twice in a 24-hour period (it’s located across from FFC, and after a workout, a burger sounds so good).
It took those two trips to bring home the fact that there is a huge amount of waste at quick-service restaurants.
Both times I went to Five Guys, I found myself leaving behind six or so of the eight or so napkins they gave me, plus water cup, paper peanut boat, aluminum foil and inner wrapper, and bag – this last seeming totally unnecessary for those who dine in.
I understand that sanitation requirements probably make some of this waste necessary, but I’ve consistently been given three times as many napkins as I need, and this is bad because such waste:
* Is obviously eco-insensitive; it wastes perfectly good paper by providing, in some cases, at least twice as much as necessary.
* Cuts into profits. I’m not sure how much Five Guys spends on napkins a year, but it would surely help their bottom line to cut costs for that items by 50% or more.
* Teaches people that wanton waste is part of the deal in America. I believe restaurants are centers of education: without our knowing it, they school us in what’s important and how to live. Chicago restaurants like Uncommon Ground, Province and any of Rick Bayless’ places put a premium on being as green as possible. Dining at these places, one becomes more ecologically aware; dining at Five Guys, one becomes numb to ecological implications.
So, the next time I order at Five Guys, I’m going to say, in the friendliest tone of voice of I can muster, “Hey, please just give me two napkins, okay? I’ll try to eat less like a pig than usual, and you can save some money on paper costs.”
It’s a small step…but it’s a start.