Another Fast-Food Greenwash: KFC Opens ‘Eco-Friendly’ Restaurant

Whether it’s due to a nagging sense of guilt or the pure delusion of PR staffs, greenwashing among fast-food chains appears to be a growing trend. Wendy’s and McDonald’s are just two of the companies to launch “green” campaigns in recent months, and Taco Bell spent a hefty sum defending the quality and sustainability of its “beef.”

The latest offender is KFC, which issued a press release Tuesday touting a new “eco-friendly” restaurant that it claims is helping the city of Indianapolis meet its sustainability goals.

For your amusement, I’ll provide the opening of the company statement:

“While the newest KFC in Indianapolis features the brand’s familiar red and white design scheme, it’s the color ‘green’ that is really going to have people talking.” 

Granted, the building is LEED-certified, according to the release. But we all know that combining the words “sustainable” and “KFC” in one sentence is an oxymoron of the first degree.

Perhaps notably, KFC’s parent company, Yum! Brands, also counts Taco Bell among its brands. I can’t blame the corporation for attaining LEED certification, of course, even if the fast-food chain represents the antithesis of sustainability. Nonetheless, corporate efforts to scheme investors into thinking the company and its products are actually “sustainable” are not only questionable, but outright laughable.

But hey, at least it got me a good chuckle.

Greenwash: Wendy’s Misses The Point

Photo credit: merlotmarketing.com

Add another one to the list: Wendy’s is the latest company to beef up (yes, I went there) its greenwashing rhetoric: The restaurant chain has launched a new PR campaign claiming to “quench consumer demand for healthy beverages.”

The chosen partner, in this case, is Nestle Pure Life Purified brand bottled water, which will be added to the restaurant chain’s menu. According to a combined statement from Wendy’s and Nestle, “Nestle Waters North America aims to be a good neighbor, with a focus on environmental sustainability.”

Right. I don’t think I need to point to the elephant in the room here. Not only does the concept of bottled water epitomize environmental unsustainability, but Nestle has actually faced multiple lawsuits on the very issue, according to a FORTUNE article posted by CNN.com back in 2007.

I could waste time preaching to the choir about the exorbitant amounts of hydro resources, fossil fuels and non-biodegradable plastic that result from the production of bottled water. But there’s another elephant in the room here: Wendy’s — yes, Wendy’s — is claiming to be “healthy” because it is offering its customers water.

Well, it is “Pure Life” water, after all — it must be good for you, and for the planet. But let’s be honest here. No one goes to Wendy’s to be healthy, much less to save the environment. If the restaurant chain were really concerned about consumers’ health, it would be launching a major overhaul of its brand, menu and practices.

But the question I pose is this: Instead of greenwashing consumers, why not just adopt sustainable offerings and practices? Now, I’m not naive enough to believe that the bottom line doesn’t play a role here. But I’m seriously suggesting that companies devote more of their budgets to actually becoming ambassadors of sustainability, rather than wasting marketing dollars on promoting the illusion of it.

I guess that would be too much work.