A Plastic Free McDonald’s Supper

Fast food restaurants create a lot of waste. Cups, lids, straws, juice and milk bottles, toys and all the packaging that goes with them. Lets not forget about the organic waste associated as well, all the box board for the kids meals. Those are still resources being used and energy needed to create them.

Our family chooses McDonald’s for our choice to fast food. Chris and I like the other restaurants as well, but the kids really enjoy McDonald’s. I know eating at these fast food restaurants leaves a lot to be desired.  We do not eat out very often. maybe once a month or two at most. Kind of the last resort for me if I have no time to make supper, or am disposed for what ever reason, which is rare. When I say “eat out”, I mean bring home. We do not go out to eat with everybody, yet. Special occasion if we do.

I despise the kids meal toys!! So much packaging. I always thought before that at least the packaging for the toys was recyclable, until we started zero waste. plastic is plastic no matter if it is recyclable or not. The toys, oh my. they get used the first day, maybe the second. It is rare for a toy to be continually played with for many days. They take up space on the shelf, scattered on the floor, always picking them up or finding them lost under the couch. Filling bedrooms with more non-sense junk. They always seem to be in the way of the actual toys that get played with. They are not a learning activity, that is for sure. No real purpose. Just another item to get tossed, lost, or put in the attic. Possibly donated. We have 5 kids. That is a lot of these toys and packaging. 99% of the time, all the toys are the same character too. Frustrating more so. I know there is a book option available too, I tried that once and got 4 of the same book . . . yup.

A while ago, while placing our order at the self order booth, I was trying to figure out if I could order the kids meals without the drinks. I knew we could order no toy. I learned we can order no yogurt tube. Yay! What about the plastic cups, lids and straws. I wanted to avoid that too. We have our own drinks at home anyways. But there was no option to refuse the drink without having to pay for it.

The kids were awesome at not accepting a toy or yogurt tube with their kids meals. We were surprised! Not a big deal! Its becoming the new normal, as I am learning lots of changes are becoming the new normal. Daniel already grew out of the toys, was no longer interested as well as the yogurt tube. Thomas was just beginning to get his own kids meals, so not a whole lot he knows he is missing out on. Its a good thing.

Our order consisted of:

Chris- Double Big Mac, Med fries and a Med Root Beer
Rachel- Double Quarter Pounder, Med fries and a Med Coke
Daniel- Kids meal chicken nuggets with pop
Alaina- Kids meal chicken nuggets with ch. milk
Julia- Kids meal Hamburger with ch. milk
Jack- Kids meal chicken nuggets with ch. milk
Thomas- Kids meal chicken nuggets with ch. milk
6 pack chicken nuggets

This totals to about $53.00 (we do not eat out very often)!
Normally I take a reusable grocery bag, which allows me to fit the kids meal boxes in and 3 ch. milk bottles, 1 drink tray with 4 drinks and a paper bag. Lets just say, my arms are full.

So the last time we ate out, Chris and I came up with a plan. No more kids meals. No more drinks. Stop the waste at the source.

How to eat at McDonald’s waste free

#1. Decide what you want before you go
#2. Purchase items for the family, not individual meals
#3. No drink

Our newest order consisted of:

1 Double Big Mac Burger
1 Quarter Pounder Burger
2 Hamburgers (Alaina was going to try one)
20 chicken nugget pack
3 large fries

This totaled to about $43.00!

I was floored. I did not know if this order was going to be cheaper.

So many positive notes:

#1. $10.00 cheaper
#2. No plastic
#3. Less paper waste
#4. Less food waste
#5. Quicker time between ordering and picking up for home (I would say I waited 1/4 of the time I normally did)
#6. Number 5 means the food is more hot when ready to eat.
#7. Less to carry (2 paper bags worth)
#8. Quick clean up after supper

Reducing waste can happen at home, proper restaurants, planned parties, travels and fast food restaurants (among other places). Use the same tool you apply for zero waste achievements and look outside the box.

One response on “A Plastic Free McDonald’s Supper”

  1. Omg! Kids meals are an absolute waste! But take out saves my butt (and family’s bellies) often. We have tons of healthy options here so it’s definitely not as stressful trying to keep kids eating healthy….. but the “recycling” bin is bulging after the meal. It seems like healthier options – salads for sure – are all plastic. I’ve always been extremely turned off seeing my hot sizzling food in steamy, hot plastic containers. But you’ve hit the jackpot with large box of chicken nuggets and larger fry boxes to share. Poor Isla has never had a toy from a meal….. but there once was a time I drove to 2 different McDonald’s to find a paw patrol toy…. failed. Awesome job!!!

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