Years ago in Indonesia I needed a break from the heat so I entered a local fast food restaurant to get a gasp of air-con and look at my map.  I did a double-take because while clearly this was a place where you could get everything from gado-gado to fried chicken to go, everyone who ate “for here” had their food served on cafeteria-like plates, ate with flatware, and drank out of cafeteria glasses.

And why not?  If you are eating at the restaurant, why do you need to be served your food on Styrofoam, plastic and paper if you’re not leaving until you are finished?

Even too-cool-for-school San Francisco has a huge trash problem.  Earlier this summer Clean Water Action combed the city and the surrounding region.  Where did most of the trash come from?  Fast food restaurants.  All those straws, lids, and single-use food containers are mucking up local water and leaving an unsightly mess, too.

In my latest article on Guardian Sustainable Business, I urge fast food restaurants to rethink their approach to serving food and believe they can do better.  And, they can save money.  But it will take a huge creative burst and educating customers, too.  Nevertheless, there is opportunity for companies to rethink their business models, turn them upside their head, and lead on the corporate social responsibility (CSR) front. Whole Foods in Chicago and other cities offer plates if you eat there after splurging at their salad and hot food bars.  Starbucks and other coffee shop chains offer ceramic cups--IF you ask for one.  But as you can see, nothing is perfect.  Before I could say anything, I got the world’s smallest scone in an outsized paper bag.

Read the full article and scope out the Guardian’s Waste and Recycling Hub, too. By the way, Happy First Birthday to Guardian Sustainable Business.  As Patsy and Eddie would say, well done!

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.