McDonald’s makes the world a cleaner place. So concludes Wharton’s Adrian E. Tschoegl in his 2007 paper "McDonald’s — Much Maligned, But an Engine of Economic Development." Here’s the relevant passage (from page 12):
McDonald’s emphasis on cleanliness, including or especially in restrooms, has led its competitors to upgrade their facilities. Before the first McDonald’s opened up in 1975, restrooms in Hong Kong’s restaurants were notoriously dirty (Watson 1997). Over time, competitors felt compelled to meet McDonald’s cleanliness standards. The same thing appears to be occurring in China (Watson 2000). In Korea, McDonald’s introduced the practice of lining up in an orderly fashion to order food; traditional practice was simply to crowd the counter, with success in ordering accruing to the most aggressive (Watson 2000). In the Philippines, Jollibee mimics McDonald’s clean and well-lighted look.
Here’s yet another small way that capitalism makes humans’ environment safer and more pleasant.