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An Ecological Argument for the Ice Cream Cone

Most of the United States has been sweltering this summer. We’ve all been seeking relief from the high temperatures. How we get that relief varies. Some people seal themselves in their homes in front of fans and air-conditioners. Going to the movies used to be a cheap way to enjoy the comforts of air-conditioning, but with ticket and snack prices rising almost as fast as the temperature, it’s not exactly an inexpensive alternative anymore. If you have access to a pool, alternating dips in the water with naps under the shade of an umbrella is a refreshing option. For a low-cost, do-it-yourself cool down technique there is always the garden hose. Running through a sprinkler kills two birds with one stone; you cool off while watering the garden. These are all great options to beat the heat, but because of the large consumption of water and electricity, they can have a negative effect on the environment.

Eating ice cream, however, is a sound eco-friendly way to cool off during the summer.* If I scream; you scream and we all scream for ice cream, together we have an opportunity to make a big impact on the environment. Regardless of the flavor, it is important to make an ecological choice for your ice cream delivery system. According to my completely unscientific calculations, eating an ice cream cone is the most eco-friendly method of ice cream delivery.

*It may be a refreshing way to cool off, but there are caloric and nutritional consequences to consider.

A cup of ice cream*This is the least eco-friendly ice cream delivery system. Eating ice cream from a cup is the preferred method for banana splits and hot fudge sundaes because they contain all manner of toppings both gooey and solid. However, those cups eventually wind up in landfills. The plastic spoon used to shovel the ice cream into your mouth also winds up in a landfill and will be there long after the summer heat subsides.

* Eating ice cream from a reusable bowl with a reusable spoon is kinder to the environment, but that is not always an option at ice cream shops and roadside ice cream stands.

Popsicles and other stick based ice cream treats – This option is more eco-friendly than having a cup of ice cream. The plastic that the treat comes wrapped in isn’t biodegradable, but it is less plastic than a cup and spoon. Popsicle sticks are made from wood and are biodegradable. Before you run out to stock up on stick based treats, consider the idea that somewhere in a forest a tree gave its life to become those Popsicle sticks.

Disclaimer: Many stick based treats come via an ice cream truck that drives down the street blasting music that hypnotizes small children to run screaming from their homes waving tiny fistfuls of dollar bills. The emissions from the ice cream truck offset any environmental benefits from having a wooden stick ice cream delivery system. 

Ice cream sandwiches – This option is a step above the stick based frozen treat. The only environmental impact associated with ice cream sandwiches is the wrapper.  (see above disclaimer for ice cream truck delivered treats)

Ice cream cones* – Be they wafer or sugar, ice cream cones are the most environmentally friendly ice cream delivery system. Having ice cream in a cone does not require a spoon, only your tongue. You can still enjoy toppings like sprinkles or dips without having to sully the environment with those plastic cups and spoons. When you have finished consuming the ice cream, you eat the delicious delivery mechanism leaving no trash for a landfill.

*Waffle cones and bowls are an exception. The ice cream container is edible, but requires the use of a utensil.  If that utensil is reusable, dig in and enjoy without the guilt of impacting the environment with yet another plastic spoon.

Before you reach for your air-conditioner or garden hose to cool off this summer, consider future generations and go get yourself ice cream in a cone. Eat it quickly though. In this heat, it will melt and drip down your hands. If that happens, you’ll need paper napkins which would detract from the ice cream cone’s environmental friendliness.  Of course, if you are really committed to protecting the environment, you could just lick your fingers and wipe them on your shirt.

About Paprika Furstenburg

I was born with an overly developed sense of humor and poor coordination. The combination of these two character traits has taught me humility and given me the perspective to find the funny in everyday experiences.

64 responses »

  1. I was just rying to clean out my email inbox a bit, you know, keep it at around 1700, when I came across a post by Paprika that I hadn’t read yet! Oh joy! The day is already looking better!!!!

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  2. I love ice cream, unfortunately. As I have diabetes it would be good if I hated the stuff. We’re having the third wet, chilly summer in a row in Norway, so I have lost my supreme argument for forcing those delicious flavours down. Of course I don’t enjoy it. Eating ice cream is just something one has to do on hot summer days. We don’t have any choices. We all have to make some sacrifices, don’t we?

    Wish I could get my hands on some of the flavours the Norwegian manufacturers don’t make, like butter pecan. Enjoy your summer y’all! I’d better go and put on another sweater.

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    • I’m sorry to hear that you are having your third chilly summer in a row, but just think of how healthy you are because you aren’t forcing yourself to eat ice cream. We just finished with a heat wave with temps near 100 degrees Fahrenheit and your chilly weather sounds very appealing. The ice cream melted way too quickly in that kind of heat and didn’t really make much of a dent in cooling us off.

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  3. Please check out my blog if you love a good laugh!

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  4. Yum! I think I will go eat an ice cream cone right this second!

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  5. Now all I can think about is ice cream. Is 10:30 am to early? Even if I’m using a reusable bowl and spoon?

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  6. I was going to have a salad, but since I now realize that the energy produced watering the vegetables and washing them would be irresponsible. I will have ice cream in a cone for lunch. It has the added benefit that I can now consider myself to be an environmental saint.

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  7. I love your humor and I agree ice cream is a green way to deal with the heat. Though I might suggest sugar free. Stay cool. Hugs, Barbara

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  8. Being the “ice cream” lady has it’s perks. I can have all I want. LOL.

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  9. But don’t eat it TOO quickly, cuz then you get brain freeze! Ouch!

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  10. I am stuck with fruit based treats, though recently I discovered Coconut Milk ice cream. It isn’t bad and I am happy again, sort of. I do miss real ice cream though.

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    • I’m sorry to hear that you can’t have “real” ice cream, but I’m glad you found a somewhat satisfying alternative. Actually, I like a lot of the fruit based treats because they don’t have as many calories as ice cream.

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      • Calories smalories….when your posterior is already ‘healthy’ you don’t worry so much. Personally, I dream (really I have fantasies) about ice cream. There are days I want a Dairy Queen Blizzard so bad I can actually taste it and then I weep. But truthfully, the replacement isn’t so bad.

    • no wheat for me…sadly, I am allergic to the lovely cones! I totally understand your loss! However, I discoverd a shop that delivers up amazing yogurt treats, add any fruit you like AND/OR there is always a fruit smoothie! For Paprika, you can reuse your own glass with those smoothies, so the environment remains unaffected!

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      • If you have a food allergy, you get a waiver for the need to be eco-friendly 🙂 I’m glad you have both found reasonable alternatives to still be able to enjoy a frozen treat.

  11. According to the Good Humor website, “the Good Humor® name came from the belief that a person’s “humor”, or temperament, was related to the humor of the palate (sense of taste).” Ironic that the “Good Humored” blog is written by a person with spicy wit who tries to find the treat in everday life.

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  12. I don’t think the Good Humor man existed in my part of Canada when I was young. However, even your blog name instantly recalls to me a movie that my sister and I watched on TV as kids and found hysterically funny at the time. I remember rolling on the living room floor. Just now, with a few keystrokes, I found a trailer and the whole movie on YouTube. (Likely we were watching the 1950 version, although it was 10 or 15 years later.) I’m not going to watch it now, because I am certain that my memory is more fun than the reality.

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    • Memories like that from childhood are always best left undisturbed. Somehow watching something that made you laugh so much as a child doesn’t always seem quite as funny as an adult. No need to tarnish such a great memory. Leave it in the vault to enjoy for years to come.

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  13. Wow — after reading this, I almost feel like I’d be saving the world by going out to buy an ice cream cone! I know this isn’t what you meant, but please allow me to rationalize it this way. I’ll be sure to lick the drips; no napkins necessary.

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  14. How about we each have our own soft-serve ice cream machines? No dishes, no cones, just dispense directly into mouth. Now that’s eco-friendly!

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    • I’m all for the direct dispensing method you suggest, but I do think there may be some hygenic issues to consider. I also have visions of Oregano unconscious just below the nozzle with ice cream all over his face.

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  15. Uncle Sea Salt

    Here in sunny…hot….dry…bone-bleaching Arizona, we are working on a direct teleport system where ice cream will be delivered through a worm-hole. However, when the drugs wear off, I usually get in the car and teleport directly to Baskins Robbins. Not as sexy…but it works!

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  16. How irreverant….The “Good Humored” lady talking about ice cream, while dissing her iconic namesake as an ecologically unsound delivery system for that summertime treat. For decades, the sound of the Good Humor truck, like Pavlov’s tone, caused millions of conditioned children to salivate (not to mention pester their parents). On the other hand, the only way to enjoy an ice cream cone is to bite off the bottom of said cone and suck the melting ice cream through the aforementioned hole.

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    • Believe it or not, it wasn’t until I hit the publish button and reread the post later in the day that I realized the connection with the Good Humor truck. I guess that is one of those can’t see the forest for the trees moments.

      As for your cone consumption technique of creating a drainage hole, that’s risky business and a technique I have not mastered. When I do that it just causes dripping from both ends.

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  17. Brilliant! Since I tend to make a mess of cones (and usu need to take a shower afterwards after I eat one) I just dug out a reusable bowl AND reusable spoon that I can carry around every day in case I get the hankering for an ice cream. This is along with my water bottle, my portable coffee mug, and my handkerchief (kidding on that one). Now, I just need to get a slightly larger suitcase…:)

    A word on popsicle sticks: Crafts. Growing up, my mother seemed to find infinite ways to re-purpose these! Hilarious post.

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    • I like how prepared you are! Eating a cone without making a mess of yourself or knocking the ice cream off the top is definitely a learned skill. Fortunately, I’ve had the drive and determination to practice that skill until it was mastered.

      As for Popsicle stick crafts, I can tell you that I had many fashionable Popsicle stick jewelry boxes – one of a kind works of art.

      So glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for reading 🙂

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  18. As you know, I cannot be trusted with ice cream in the house. I loves me the ice cream – any flavor, shape, or delivery system! My favorie is ice cream cake with the crunchies – yummmm!

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  19. I couldn’t even get past your blog’s title. I went directly to my refrigerator and got a low-calorie fudgesicle. Delish! Thanks for the eco-friendly suggestions. By the way, there’s another reason to avoid the cup of ice cream at the shops … they charge by the ounce. After all those toppings, whew! Ka-ching!

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    • Ahhh, the power of suggestion. I didn’t realize that ice cream shops charge by the weight when you add toppings. I’m almost exclusively a cone girl, so that’s new information to me. Enjoy your fudgesicle 🙂

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  20. Thanks for giving me another reason to indulge in one of my favorite summer treats! Especially Friendlys mocha chocolate chip!

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  21. Now you’ve done it! Goodbye diet!! I can’t get the image of that sweet delicious ice cream on a yummy cone out of my mind!!! Gotta go….I hear the ice cream store calling!!!
    xoxoxox

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  22. Yesterday I had to visit two different supermarkets to find vanilla ice cream! My beloved husband only eats Turkey Hill Philadelphia style vanilla and it is scarce. Hopefully it’s just the holiday! Perfect timing for this post. However, there is an alternative — ice cold watermelon (very environmentally sound as it comes with it’s own container). The benefit of watermelon over ice cream is that you can wash you face while you eat it! Oh, and I do remember those trucks. OMG! I lived in a rural area and that was a lifeline!

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    • I LOVE cold watermelon in the summer and, as you pointed out, it comes in it’s own eco-friendly packaging.

      Philadelphia style vanilla? I’ve never heard of that. Is it a regional item or do you think they’d have it all the way over here in NJ?

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  23. Dont have to twist my arm, I hear ya loud & clear “eat more ice cream !” 😉

    (We go through an obscene amount of popsicles…)

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  24. Here’s my favorite way to enjoy ice cream: at home, scooping huge scoops into a glass bowl, and eating it with a regular, washable spoon. No damages to environmental concerns, and fewer calories because no waffle cones are involved.

    And you can buy some pretty outrageous flavors that Mr. Good Humor never even heard of!

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  25. If you are ever in the Westford MA area, you MUST MUST try Kimballs ice cream. It’s made on site and oh so wonderful.
    You can have it via environmentally sound or not ways.
    Gotta try the Almond Joy…..
    fabulous!!

    Reply

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