Corporations Must Evolve Beyond Capitalizing on Sustainability

Corporations Must Evolve Beyond Capitalizing on Sustainability

McDonalds flag

On East Avenue 2/11/18 [Photo: David Kramer]

A graduate of the Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, George Cassidy Payne is the founder of Gandhi Earth Keepers International and a SUNY adjunct humanities instructor.


George Cassidy Payne

In addition to his contributions to Talker of the Town, George’s blogs, essays, letters to the editor, op-eds and poems have been featured in a wide variety of foreign and domestic publications, including USA Today, The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, The Buffalo News, The Toronto Star, The Albany Times Union, The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, The Daily Caller, Counterpunch, and more.

Corporations Must Evolve Beyond Capitalizing on Sustainability

McDonald’s has vowed to get rid of all non-recyclable packaging by 2025. Dunkin’ Donuts has followed suit by pledging to use paper coffee cups instead of foam cups by 2020.


Dunkin’ Donuts on Monroe Avenue in Brighton 2/11/18. Supposedly, by 2020 all styrofoam cups will be replaced with paper. [Photo: David Kramer]

Forgive me for sounding cynical, but don’t these moves feel a bit underwhelming? If McDonald’s wanted to introduce a new variety of bacon cheeseburger, the product would be invented, patented, manufactured, and distributed all over the world in months. It would not take 7 years.

More radical changes are needed than 7 year phase-in plans. How these fast food companies slaughter animals needs to change now. The money spent on advertisements compared with community development needs to change now. Their waste of water needs to change now. The way they treat their employees needs to change now. The toxins they put into their foods needs to change now. The lack of nutritious value in their meals needs to change now. 

In her book, This Changes Everything, the Canadian author Naomi Klein writes:

The McDonald’s dumpster on Monroe Avenue in the city 2/13/18. Supposedly, by 2025 all McDonald’s products will be recyclable.[Photo: David Kramer]

For a quarter of a century, we have tried the approach of polite incremental change, attempting to bend the physical needs of the planet to our economic model’s need for constant growth and new profit-making opportunities. The results have been disastrous, leaving us all in a great deal more danger than when the experiment began.

Klein goes on to state: “A powerful message—spoken in the language of fires, floods, droughts, and extinctions— is telling us that we need an entirely new economic model and a new way of sharing this planet. Telling us that we need to evolve.”

What we don’t need is McDonald’s to turn sustainability into another way for their company to make money. And we certainly do not need to congratulate Dunkin’ Donuts if it is just masking how it really pollutes.


A Higher Learning is Needed: Balancing Corporate Interests and Civil Rights at Syracuse University

About The Author

Welcome to Talker of the Town! My name is David Kramer. I have a Ph.D in English and teach at Keuka College. I am a former and still active Fellow at the Nazareth College Center for Public History and a Storyteller in Residence at the SmallMatters Institute. Over the years, I have taught at Monroe Community College, the Rochester Institute of Technology and St. John Fisher College. I have published numerous Guest Essays, Letters, Book Reviews and Opinion pieces in The New York Times, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, the Buffalo News, the Rochester Patriot, the Providence Journal, the Providence Business News, the Brown Alumni Magazine, the New London Day, the Boston Herald, the Messenger Post Newspapers, the Wedge, the Empty Closet, the CITY, Lake Affect Magazine and Brighton Connections. My poetry appears in The Criterion: An International Journal in English and Rundenalia and my academic writing in War, Literature and the Arts and Twentieth Century Literary Criticism. Starting in February 2013, I wrote for three Democratic and Chronicle  blogs, "Make City Schools Better," "Unite Rochester," and the "Editorial Board." When my tenure at the D & C  ended, I wanted to continue conversations first begun there. And start new ones.  So we created this new space, Talker of the Town, where all are invited to join. I don’t like to say these posts are “mine.” Very few of them are the sole product of my sometimes overheated imagination. Instead, I call them partnerships and collaborations. Or as they say in education, “peer group work.” Talker of the Town might better be Talkers of the Town. The blog won’t thrive without your leads, text, pictures, ideas, facebook shares, tweets, comments and criticisms.


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