Monday, May 4, 2009

How Drive-thru's are Killing the Planet

My rant this week is about how fast food drive-thru's are not only a huge inconvenience, but are in fact killing the planet.

I am not a tree hugger. I am not anti-automobile. And I have not done any quantitative research. In fact, I love a long drive in a fast car on a sunny day. But last Friday on my way north from Toronto, I say something that just turned my stomach. At a fast food outlet just off the highway was a line up of 30+ cars at the drive-thru! All idling at 0 miles per gallon (apologies for going non-metric).

Now lets do some simple math: assuming it took 30 seconds to serve each vehicle, that meant that each vehicle spent 15 minutes in the drive-thru line up!

And the really incredible thing? There were vacant parking spaces in front of the restaurant. A quick look inside showed multiple cash registers open none with more than 3 people.

Do the math again: with 3 people in line and at 30 seconds to serve each customer that worked out to less than 2 minutes to get service. And assuming each driver had turned off their engine before going into the restaurant, much less pollution.

13 minutes saved by going into the store rather than sitting in the drive-thru. And way less pollution from an idling vehicle.

One location of course won't kill the planet. But repeat this at all the drive-thru's throughout North America, and I think it is time to re-think this 'Convenience'.


  1. Amaze me at The Beach as well Chris. I can understand in the middle of winter not wanting to get out of the car to buy a Tim's. But at other times of the year there are 7 or 8 cars waiting with only maybe 2 people lining up inside.

    Going off at a bit of a tangent this would help the local economy and also mean less car journeys to other towns to shop:


  2. Also can you be prosecuted for idling in a long line for the drive through??

  3. Thanks Andrew. I commented on your blog post about buying locally. Excellent suggestion (check out the link in the first comment above). And to do my part, I am going to share with everyone I know in the Beach.

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  5. Hi Chris, I'm actually at:

    Patti runs the Beach Post. I am in no way proficient enough to get as many posts out as she does on a daily basis:)


  6. Add the 'convenient' drive up banks across the US - who I can only assume take more than :30 to serve each customer - and you have a lot more needless idling.


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