Are Drive-Thrus Killing the Environment? Minneapolis Isn't Taking Any Chances
Are Drive-Thrus Killing the Environment? Minneapolis Isn't Taking Any Chances

Minneapolis became the first major American city to ban the construction of new drive-thru windows.

It is no secret that convenience is king when it comes to the fast-food segment—about 65% of McDonald’s business comes from drive-thru sales. The trend has many people asking: At what cost?

This past week, the Minneapolis City Council voted unanimously to prohibit new drive-through fast-food restaurants, banks and drugstores, citing the climate benefits of taking cars off of the roads to cut back on gas emissions

Lisa Bender, the City Council President, tweeted: “Responding to our constituents’ concerns about their impacts on neighbors, pedestrian safety and building design, Minneapolis will no longer allow new drive-throughs.”

Drive-thru windows have long been associated with the fast-food segment, with burger chain In-N-Out claiming to have set the trend in 1948. In fact, the popular California hotspot started as a drive-thru-only restaurant, until long lines and a crackdown on city government building permits forced the chain to expand. Ironically, the chain’s home town of Baldwin Park banned drive-thru windows in 2010 as part of Michelle Obama’s national campaign to stem obesity. The trend continued—with San Luis Obispo, California prohibiting the drive-thru window back in 1982, much to McDonald’s chagrin

Not everyone is a fan of Minneapolis’ new ordinance. The first version of the ban failed in 2016, including vocal opposition from an advisory committee on people with disabilities. One user tweeted in response to Bender, “Instead of drive-thrus at food service establishments, far more parking will be needed, paving over far more green space.”

With the global climate crisis becoming more and more urgent, Minneapolis has decided to take a controversial step to do what they can, one window at a time.

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