A Tree’s Life At McDonald’s — Billions and Billions Served

A Tree’s Life At McDonald’s — Billions and Billions Served

My local McDonald’s has murdered two huge trees–one because a branch fell on a car. The other, is guilt by association. I took pictures of the carnage in yesterday’s post. Today I counted the rings of one of the trees and then compared the McDonald’s service history to the growth of the tree.

Do you know how many customers it took McDonald’s to serve for that tree and its accomplice to reach their lofty heights? As long as it took for McDonald’s to serve “Billions and Billions.” As long as it took for McDonald’s to quit saying how many billions of customers they have served.

From my counting of the rings, the tree sprouted in 1965. McDonald’s served 1 billion customers that year.

The timeline of McDonald's Billions and Billions served vs. how long it took for this tree to grow--they're almost the same.

The timeline of McDonald’s Billions and Billions served vs. how long it took for this tree to grow–they’re almost the same.

In 1970, the tree was five years old, and McDonald’s had served 5 billion people. By then, almost the number of people on the planet.

In 1980, 50 billion were served by McDonald’s and the trees kept rising toward the heavens.

In 1990, 80 billion were served, and you can see the enormous growth of the tree.

In 1994, McDonald’s reached their 100 billion served mark and stopped counting.

But to be fair, somewhere around 1995 or so, the tree caught up to that 1 billion it’d missed out on–McDonald’s had reached 1 billion by 1963, two years before it began growing.

Then came the new millennium.

Then add the spring of 2018 when a branch fell on a car in the parking lot of McDonald’s in Mesquite, Texas.

After providing shade to customers at the east end of the parking lot of this store, a branch fell from a healthy tree. One of two tall trees standing majestically on the lot separating it and a dry cleaner.

Men showed up one day with a wood chipper. One of the operators looked like he didn’t know what he was doing like he’d lose an arm himself in the contraption.

Two weeks later, the two trees, after McDonald’s had served an untold number more customers, the beautiful, green crowns of the trees were gone. All that remained were the mutilated trunks of the trees, lying there like dead bodies one might see in old Civil War photos.  And remaining next to them, their stumps, which tell the story above.

McDonald’s murdered these two trees because a branch fell on a car. Both living, vivacious and healthy trees that had grown up with the franchise and served the environment of Mesquite, Texas, like McDonald’s has served people around the world.

But one branch fell and that was enough for McDonald’s to kill two trees. Two healthy trees.

The Overstory

In Richard Powers’ novel, The Overstory, a character goes and counts the rings of a fallen tree just as I have done. He does it because he, too, is sickened that people so carelessly murdered a tree. At least in the case of the story, the tree was harvested for the wood it would yield. In this case, the tree was chopped up. There is a nice mulch bed, but the rest was mutilated it appears. A total waste of 50 or more years of growth from two trees because someone was too lazy to do a little maintenance on two trees, provide some shade, and keep two viable, living trees in the ground.

The Overstory is a great book about the life of trees. Reading it has changed my perspective about trees. Had I not read it, I’m not sure I’d be this upset about what McDonald’s has done. But I am sickened by what McDonald’s has done because it was nothing short of murder. As they say in the book, trees are part of us. And part of all of us died when McDonald’s murdered these two trees the way they did.

The Rings Tell The Story

Here’s the tree rings.

The rings of one of the trees murdered by McDonald's in Mesquite, Texas because a branch fell on a car.

The rings of one of the trees murdered by McDonald’s in Mesquite, Texas because a branch fell on a car.



This is an image of the tree line from the new County Road 510 Bridge near Marquette, Michigan.


Donald J. Claxton | The Timberlander, a selfie from camping for 13 weeks in 2022 on the Claxton family land in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, northwest of Marquette.

Donald J. Claxton is
‘The Timberlander’

Hello, I’m Donald J. 

I refer to myself as “The Timberlander” because I love off-grid living and woodworking.

My Great Pyrenees, Maycee, and I enjoy spending our time in the woods of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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