It is a beautiful, sunny morning and you have just arrived at the dry cleaners to pick up the one pair of pants your husband owns that cannot be machine washed. There is an empty parking lot with plenty of spots right in front of the door. There is also an empty drive through lane right next to it. Which one do you choose? A startling number of Americans would rather use the drive through than get out of the car on a beautiful day and walk the whopping 50 feet to the front door. We have become a drive through nation and our health and the environment are taking a huge toll.
Think About This Thursday
The drive through did not gain popularity until the 1970′s but since then they have become a service that most Americans aren’t willing to give up. In fact, McDonalds had plans to renovate one of their existing restaurants and instead demolished the entire thing when the city upheld it’s very rare ban on drive through lanes. They refused to build a multi-million dollar fast food restaurant without the option of the drive through, saying that it would drastically reduce sales. Would you eat at McDonalds if you didn’t have the option of a drive through? Is the food there good enough that you would actually get out and WALK to get to it?
Are you guilty of using the drive through even when you don’t really need to? Here are a few facts about drive throughs that might make you park your car and walk next time you are running errands:
1. Idling for longer than 10 seconds produces more emissions than restarting the engine after you park.
2. I came across some interesting math on Wired.com which indicates that the total fuel per day wasted in drive throughs (just restaurants) would be: 400,000 gallons. And that is JUST restaurants!
3. American cars emit about 58 million tons of carbon dioxide while idling….not actually going anywhere, JUST idling!
Photo Credit: Smosh.com
Nowadays, you don’t just have the option of getting your lunch without ever exiting your vehicle…you can pretty much run every errand on your to do list without once having to use your own foot power. There are drive throughs for banks, post offices, dry cleaners, pharmacies, and coffee shops. Bet you aren’t surprised about those, right? But did you know there are also drive through grocery stores, liquor stores and funeral homes? Yes, you can view the remains of your dearly departed and say a quick prayer while never leaving the comfort of your car. Even more disturbing are the drive though marriage chapels in Las Vegas! How is a marriage suppose to last if you don’t even have enough energy to get out of the car to say ‘I do’??
Our nation has a horrible problem with obesity yet we continue to sit in our cars for hours on end without doing anything more strenuous than pushing down the gas pedal. We spend millions of dollars on expensive gym memberships but won’t walk 50 feet from our car to our French Fries! Are we that lazy or in that much of a hurry?
As someone who actually WORKS part time in a pharmacy I can tell you that 90% of the people that come through my drive through are able bodied, healthy, and NOT lugging around oxygen tanks or small infants. And about 50% or more of those able bodied people are extremely overweight. Park the car and get out and walk! Better for the health of humans AND the environment if we just park the car and WALK IN!
My favorite drive through experience? When my drive through customer asks ME (the one with the white coat filling your prescription!) to please go grab them a 2 liter bottle of coke and some nuts. Because I clearly have nothing better to be doing than YOUR SHOPPING while sick children are waiting for their medicine. And yes, this happens a LOT! And I am not allowed to tell those drive through customers to get off their lazy butts and get their own snack food. Nope, I just have to smile and go do it. While I’m out there I will just tell that lady with the sick toddler that she has to wait because you can’t be bothered to get out of the car and do your own grocery shopping.
While many areas of our country are beginning to ban the drive through lane I have absolutely no hope of Atlanta ever following that path. For now, I will do my part and make it my personal mission to park my car and walk whenever possible. I bet I will get my errands fun faster than those 15 drivers idling in the drive through lane!