Ice cream by the scoop: An environmental mess

Photo of ice cream cone dropped on the pavement
“Tragedy” by Johnathan Nightingale (Flickr)

One of the happy side-effects of living in the Cities this summer is that I’ve been able to partake of locally made ice cream being sold by a number of local vendors. Morris doesn’t have a lot of options in that department (DQ isn’t really ice cream), so my ice cream habit is supported primarily by Ben & Jerry’s and Häagen-Dazs from Willie’s). Here in the Cities, however, there’s ice cream all over the place, and I’ve definitely been taking full advantage :)

In the process, however, I’ve been forced to confront the unfortunate reality of the packaging mess that is by-the-scoop ice cream. I always try to order it in cones instead of cups, so the container is consumed instead of entering the garbage stream, but even that’s often not a huge help. The Wilde Roast is just down the road a piece and has a nice selection of gelato, for example, and I have been known to amble down to enjoy a little. Unfortunately, even if I order a cone, they scoop it into one of their plastic serving cups (essentially as a measuring device), then splooch it into the cone, and then throw the cup away! They also stick a little plastic spoon in my cone, thereby ensuring that I’ve ended up putting just as much plastic crap in the waste stream as I would have if I’d ordered it in a cup in the first place. And then there’s the paper wrapper on the cone, and the napkins ’cause is runs and drips, and blah, and blah, and blah…

There was once this crazy time when people sat down and ate ice cream in a glass bowl with a metal spoon, both of which could be washed. This is simply not an option at the majority of the places I’ve been getting ice cream at – even if you sit down you get a paper or a plastic cup and a plastic spoon. And I seem to remember that when I was a kid ice cream cones were a more straight forward, less wasteful deal – there was probably a lot of paper (’cause they were still a mess), but there was a heck of a lot less plastic (like, I’m thinking, none).

This, frankly, is dumb, and we can totally do better. I suspect the big problem is that plastic is too cheap due to the complex subsidy chain, so neither the cost of its production or its disposal are being properly assessed in our accounting and decision making.

In the meantime, it would be nice if I could order my ice cream in a nice (or, hell, a cheap) glass bowl with a metal spoon. Maybe I should start bringing my own, although I suspect they’d refuse to scoop into it (some sort of health regs) and I’d still end up with a plastic spoon stuck on top before I’d managed to cut them off at the pass.

There’s an Izzy’s Ice Cream opening tomorrow about a block from the Guthrie, which is just across the river from where I’m staying. It’s a very good thing (for my waistline, my pocketbook, and for the environment) that it and I won’t be together very long before I head back to Morris.

A very good thing.

Related posts

Remember to recycle old electronics!

Video iPod by Alexandre Van de Sande

As folks collapse on the sofa, full of roast beast and replete with the goodies of the season, it’s worth thinking a bit about recycling as much as we can of the waste this whole business generates. If you were lucky enough to score some electronic goodies (cell phones, iPods, etc., etc.) that will orphan some of your old gear, you might consider giving or selling those bits on. We sold a bunch of gear on eBay before we came to the UK, and donated a great 19″ CRT monitor that no one bid on to the local school system. Services like FreeCycle make it a lot easier to find happy homes for things you no longer want but which could still be useful to others.

Barring selling or donation, definitely explore recycling them instead of just pitching them in the trash. Cast off electronic represent the fastest growing component of the municipal waste stream, and the problem’s just gonna get larger. Cell phones don’t biodegrade or compost well, and there are now something like 1 billion cell phones on the planet, which makes for a pretty hefty garbage truck.

Looking for some tips on how to gracefully move some old electronics on to their next life? There’s lots of info on-line, including this nice piece from The Daily Green.

Thanks to Alexandre Van de Sande for the cool photo.

Related posts