What began as Ted Turner’s presentation on sustainability in the restaurant business quickly became a fierce criticism of the media mogul’s business practices and personal ideas last Tuesday.In 2002, the chairman of Turner Enterprises, Inc. joined forces with George McKerrow, Jr. and founded their eco-friendly restaurant chain, Ted’s Montana Grill. The two were brought to Temple’s Great Court in Mitten Hall by the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management to answer questions about their continued efforts to reduce and maintain the amount of waste from their restaurants.
Both described the different aspects of the restaurant business that they have attempted to make more environmentally friendly while maintaining a classic American dining experience.
McKerrow, president and CEO of their restaurant chain, said they have made efforts to improve the environment through the introduction of paper straws into their restaurants. The chain began buying the straws from a small company in New Jersey whose business has significantly increased due to their partnership which has allowed the company to expand with a factory in Indiana.
“As a child, I was fascinated by the natural world,” Turner said as he discussed the roots of his environmentalism.
“Global warming is the greatest threat to humanity besides nuclear weapons,” Turner said.
The presentation’s tone turned when a handful of students criticized some of Turner’s personal actions.
When asked about his ownership of almost “2 million acres in 12 states” of the United States, Turner said that those acres are cared for through thoughtful, environmentally friendly practices. Another student questioned Turner’s attitude toward sustainability of the human population. Turner, who supports a decrease in the size of the average U.S. family, has a total of five children himself.
If he had known the population would be what it is today, Turner said he would have “only had one or two” children.
The questioning student, Phillip Figueiredo, said he was displeased with Turner’s response.
“It shows how he really feels about the ideals of this country,” said Figueiredo, a sophomore liberal arts major. “It is easy to see how he really feels about this country and humanity in general.”
Chelsea Calhoun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Ethan Sterner