You probably eat fast food. Many people do so daily.
According to a CDC report, almost 40% of Americans consume fast food on a daily basis. Cheryl Fryar, CDC health statistician, said, “On any given day in the United States, an estimated 36.6% or approximately 84.8 million adults consume fast food.”
That’s a lot of fast food being eaten.
Recently I was in the position of deciding to eat fast food. Pressed for time and travelling with children on a three-hour journey, I did what many parents do: we stopped for a quick meal to save time.
I don’t eat fast food every day. It happens on occasion, but it’s not a regular habit.
Given I was in a position to spend money in my home province of British Columbia, I consciously chose to feed the family at A&W, Canada’s fastest growing restaurant, now with over 950 locations. Why A&W?
It came down to how they operate, how they are treating planet-conscious, community-caring citizens like me. A&W earned my business because of its higher purpose. Other businesses might want to take note. I don’t believe I’m the only one thinking this way or voting with my wallet.
I figured I was going to spend about $50. As I was driving and coming to the conclusion that one business was going to earn my dollars and a bunch of them were not, I started thinking about why one should get my cash over the other.
In the case of A&W, I remembered the company had announced in January that they were banning the use of plastic straws in favor of marine-degradable paper straws. They did so in a unique way, gathering the remainder of their plastic straws and creating a sculpture outside of Toronto’s Union Station spelling the words “Change is good.” (See photo above.)
My children—aged 12, 13, and 16—have started berating restaurants serving plastic straws, so A&W’s tactic struck a chord with me. Paper straws are a big issue for Gen-Z. The Great Pacific garbage patch is laden with plastic straws. My Gen-Z kids saw this as a huge issue (thanks Instagram) and blamed any restaurant using plastic straws. Put one in the win column for Dad.
You might claim that “Dad didn’t want to upset his children,” I suppose. But there’s more to A&W’s story and my decision to eat there.
I also recalled a program in which A&W began donating food to local agencies. In partnership with its supply chain and local grassroots organizations focusing on food donations, A&W has donated over 55,000 pounds of food across Canada since 2016. When I relayed this story to my children of the good that A&W is doing in the community, they were elated.
Finally, while the drive continued and one of the children was plugging in A&W to our map app to find the nearest location, I remembered a friend telling me of a different kind of app that the company had recently introduced.
In partnership with Magnusmode—a company that specializes in creating a world “where people with special needs can fully participate with independence and inclusion”—A&W integrated the MagnusCards® app into its dining experience for guests with developmental or cognitive disabilities.
“The app’s step-by-step instructions guide guests through everything from ordering their burger to separating out recycling after they finish their meal,” states the company’s website. Ultimately the free app makes an A&W dining experience more accessible for everyone. I found that quite heartening.
Does A&W need to hit its annual revenue and profit targets? Of course, it does. But it has chosen to operate its business in a way that serves a higher purpose, a greater cause. It’s not just about money. The environment, community and assisting those who are less fortunate are a large part of its higher purpose.
When I knew $50 was going to be spent on fast food, I found myself thinking more about A&W and less about its competitors almost solely based on how it operates in society.
I suspect I’m not the first. I also believe more people will eventually make decisions this way, too.
And if you’re curious, the Beyond Meat burger is simply fantastic, and the rootbeer is second to none!