Adventures in Greening: How about a burrito?

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By Catherine Moran

I am writing about Chipotle today because I ate there last week. I didn’t really know much about Chipotle’s business practices until this video aired in 2011, followed by this video in 2013. Both videos take on the idea that factory farming is not the way our food should be getting to us. I applaud that idea, as I’m a big fan of farm to table proponents.

According to their website, Chipotle supports sustainable farming practices and family-owned farms whenever they can, steering clear of animals raised on hormones and antibiotics if possible. These are good practices for the environment, especially if Chipotle is honoring the declaration that they buy local when they can. For the chain, buying local means buying from locations within 350 miles of a Chipotle.

Chipotle pays employees more than the minimum wage, and employees can work their way up the management rungs, no matter where they start. Way to go, Chipotle!

Now, onto the really exciting news for greenies: Chipotle makes their burrito bowls using recycled materials From their website:

We try to use packaging materials that have minimal effects on the environment. Our burrito bowls are made from 93% recycled material–mostly recycled newspapers. And our aluminum lids are made of 95% recycled materials, including aluminum cans. Our lids reduces [sic] energy consumption by 96% compared to using lids made of new materials.

Their napkins are also made from 100% recycled content, hurrah! When you get your items to go, there are no extra napkins or utensils thrown in the bag (at least not in the NYC locations I’ve been to). You can pick up these items at a separate serving station. I can walk in, grab a burrito in a paper bag (or say no to the bag, in fact!) and be on my merry way, and no extra future trash has to make the trip with me.

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Now, a lot of this info came directly from Chipotle’s site, so it should be taken with a grain of salt (at least the sustainable farming commitment clams). The company page stresses that Chipotle uses fresh, organic, or sustainable ingredients wherever possible, but that means that sometimes it’s not possible. So, while it is frustrating to not know if the food you are consuming actually does fall within those parameters, I have to applaud Chipotle on their efforts. I may be naive in saying this, but I believe that they are making an effort; at the very least, they’re using buzzwords in a way that few other chains do…so they can have credit for that!

In conclusion: I don’t often eat from chains, but when I do, I’m happy in the choice of Chipotle. Now I’m hungry….

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Do you know about any other large chains that try to use sustainable practices?

Adventures in Greening is a column running on Kate-book.com every other Monday at noon. It is written by the very eco-conscious Catherine Moran. Follow Catherine on Twitter here, or check out her excellent book blog.

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2 thoughts on “Adventures in Greening: How about a burrito?

  1. Sean says:

    Laudable, but not 100% there. Using recyclable materials for packaging isn’t totally effective unless they have recycling bins in the restaurant. Otherwise these materials go in the same receptacle with uneaten food!

    • Catherine Moran says:

      You’re right, Sean! It’s still a problem, but I am thankful for the start. Maybe we can start the recycling AT Chipotle revolution…do I hear a change.org petition?

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