“Drive-Thru Truths” | More on the Greenwash Drive-thru Campaign Now in Comox

“Drive-Thru Truths”

Did you know that

  • Critics of drive-thrus don’t have “any proof”; in fact, they don’t “make sense”
  • Fast foods — and drive-thru access to those fast foods — are “vital” “for the disabled, seniors, and parents with small children”; access to these fast foods is not just a matter of convenience; “many people need drive-thrus”
  • All of “the disabled, seniors, and parents with small children” have cars — as well as money for insurance and gas; and all of “the disabled, seniors, and parents with small children” don’t have disabilities which prevent car-driving (as blindness does, for example); so all of these people have the option of using drive-thrus
  • Drive-thrus are the only way that we can improve accessibility for all of “the disabled, seniors, and parents with small children” — even for disabled people whose mobility is not impaired in any way
  • Cars only make people safer; no one is ever endangered by car driving
  • It’s fine to encourage people to eat and drink while they drive after leaving a drive-thru
  • The health of drive-thru window employees is not important; it’s OK that they inhale fumes from nearby exhaust pipes throughout their shifts
  • It doesn’t matter that all of the employees and customers in establishments with drive-thru windows are exposed to the exhaust fumes that come in through these windows
  • Drive-thrus are not an environmental problem in any way whatsoever; in fact, drive-thrus are an environmental asset
  • People don’t travel to businesses by bicycle, by bus, or by foot; every customer who doesn’t use a drive-thru either will leave their car in a parking lot, or they will leave it idling outside of the building; so without drive-thrus that is what’s bound to happen
  • Tailpipe emissions are the only environmental issue that is relevant here; other environmental consequences (e.g. ongoing oil spills) associated with extracting, refining, and shipping the oil used to make gasoline are a separate matter; and the materials (e.g. rubber) needed to manufacture and maintain vehicles (e.g. their tires) are not relevant either; so the extraction, transport, processing, and disposal of these materials also has nothing to do with drive-thrus; and the ecological implications of industrial manufacturing of vehicles and vehicle parts is unrelated as well
  • Concerns about how oil profits often end up in the hands of authoritarian regimes (e.g. in Saudi Arabia) are irrelevant
  • Drive-thrus don’t encourage additional car driving, so “banning drive-thrus won’t reduce the number of overall car trips”; drive-thrus thus have nothing to do with ongoing automobile collisions, or with other problems (e.g. increased obesity) associated with car driving
  • Eat-in establishments are of no value; “quick service restaurants” are ideal; it’s not important that we sit together as a community rather than eating and drinking more privately (e.g. inside vehicles); we shouldn’t be concerned about how there are fewer jobs and less tips in “quick service restaurants” with drive-thrus
  • It doesn’t matter that younger people who can’t drive cars on their own have less access to drive-thrus, and to establishments that are more accessible by car; poorer people who can’t afford their own cars — and everyone else who can’t drive on their own — also don’t deserve any consideration
  • “The public” supports drive-thrus; “the public” does not have any concerns about drive-thrus
  • Each name on the petition is actually from a separate person who has “read the facts“; there are no duplicate names on the petition, and no fake names were added to it
  • There is grassroots activism in the “Drive-Thru Truths” campaign — as the protest signs show
  • “The experts” dismiss concerns about drive-thrus and tailpipe emissions; “the experts” all agree on this
  • Tim Hortons and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association — the people behind these messages — just want to help us all, while contributing to environmental causes; profit-making strategies have nothing to do with their stance on these issues; unlike “special interest groups,” Tim Horton’s and the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association are concerned about the general interests — of “the people,” whose voices and whose empowerment are considered to be very important

Those are the messages that you’ll find at drivethru truth .ca, a pro- drive-thru propaganda site (which I have archived here on my own web site). The above points are about what is said on that pro- drive-thru site — as well as what isn’t said on that site.

(Their banner image is at the top of this post; their original banner is a little larger, however.)

There are additional problems with drive-thrus that I could mention, but I’m just responding to the lobbying on and around that particular drivethru truth web site. In other words, this post is just a response to messages from a particular set of industry lobbyists (and without effort to come up with every possible point that could be raised against them).

Some of their propaganda also has been spread through pamphlets (which I’ve seen on Tim Hortons counter-tops), through mainstream media advertising, and through t-shirts worn at a public event the other day.

Here are a couple of photos of the t-shirts:

(Click to enlarge)

The mob wearing those shirts all seem to have been Tim Hortons employees. (In part, I say that because of how they collectively reacted to what was said during the forum on Tuesday.)

They might have been paid to come out to the forum wearing those shirts; or other pressures or incentives might have driven them there.
I’m not sure why exactly they were there, but I am certain that they didn’t have to pay for the shirts; and I’m sure that they didn’t have to create the t-shirt design and then produce the actual t-shirts.

The “Drive-Thru Truths” campaign is a ‘top’-‘down’ form of lobbying. Executives, managers, and marketers have been leading the way.

As for the lobbyists’ pamphlets, here’s the text from one that I picked up from a Tim Hortons counter –

“Banning Drive-thrus in London?

It’s a bad idea all around.

Fact: A drive-thru ban would hurt the less mobile.

Drive-thrus are a vital access point for the disabled, seniors, and parents with small children.

Fact: ZERO Environmental Benefit.

Crowded parking lots create the same or more emissions”

Basically that pamphlet text is a condensed version of messages at drivethru truth .ca (which the pamphlet refers readers to).

On the pamphlet a hand is holding up a sign that says “4 KIDS IN A VAN. BLIZZARD. DRIVE-THRUS HELP.”
How ridiculous is it to highlight that situation? Why would someone drive to a fast food outlet in that weather? (when there actually are blizzards — which do happen now and then around here). Generally speaking, a parent who would be endangering their children if they drove them around in a blizzard; yet, the lobbyists are encouraging such behaviour.

On the pamphlet there also are two other hand-held signs — the “DON’T BAN DRIVE-THRUS” sign, and the one about using a walker (which also are on the drivethru truth site).
How many people with walkers also drive cars?

Messages like those insult the intelligence of humanity.

Here’s a web site which was set up in response to drivethrutruth.ca:

(Those campaigners don’t have the help or resources needed to make a more eye-catching and easy to navigate web site. That’s ‘democracy’ for you.)

On a barely related note, here’s a blog post (elsewhere) about Tim Hortons here in London, Ontario –
You’ve (do not) always got time for Tim Hortons – lady previously sacked for giving away a timbit

I’m only posting that here because I expect that, like me, others will enjoy reading this because they are frustrated with the industry propaganda, which Tim Hortons has had a huge hand in.

The case described in that blog post also symbolizes a lot of other issues I’ve been alluding to–issues which come down to sheer inhumanity (e.g. in exposing employees to car exhaust fumes).

The web site drivethrutruth.com now brings people to a Tim Hortons web site. (Drivethrutruth.ca doesn’t bring visitors to the Tim Hortons site, however.)

There are a few comments on the above “Drive-Thru Truths” piece here:
(where I had re-posted it)

Update (June 19, 2008) –

Tim Horton’s now has an almost identical drive-thru propaganda web site directed toward Comox Valley in British Columbia (B.C.), Canada –

(For instance, the phrase “Drive-Thru Truths” has been replaced with rhetoric about “Drive-Thru Facts”.)

(According to the Wikipedia page about Comox Valley, that area of B.C. includes: the city of Courtenay, the town of Comox, the village of Cumberland, the unincorporated settlements of Royston, Union Bay, Fanny Bay, Black Creek and Merville — as well as the “communities” of Denman Island and Hornby Island.)


(Drive-thrus also are called drive-throughs — which I’m saying so that search engines are more likely to find this post.)


Categories: Ecology · Ecology: Energy and carbon · Liberal individualism · Political Economy · Political economy: Capitalist commerce · Solidarity


“Climate policy is characterized by the habituation of low expectations and a culture of failure. There is an urgent need to understand global warming and the tipping points for dangerous impacts that we have already crossed as a sustainability emergency that takes us beyond the politics of failure-inducing compromise. We are now in a race between climate tipping points and political tipping points.”
David Spratt, Philip Sutton, Climate Code Red, Australia, Published July, 2008

Leave a comment

No comments yet.

Comments RSS TrackBack Identifier URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s