Beaches n Cream Toronto

Toronto ice cream joint finally responds to years of criticism for using plastic spoons

After years of receiving numerous complaints about their plastic spoons littering the beach,  Beaches n' Cream, an ice cream spot in the Beaches neighbourhood, say they have finally switched to wooden spoons.

In 2020, the Canadian government made headlines by announcing a ban on six types of single-use plastics, aiming to achieve zero plastic waste by 2030. 

The legislation took effect in 2022 but faced a setback on November 16, 2023, when the Federal Court overturned the ban, deeming it "unreasonable and unconstitutional."

Since the legislation was announced, businesses responded by transitioning to more sustainable options for single-use items. Paper straws and wooden cutlery quickly became the norm. 

Despite initial frustration among Canadians, many businesses continued moving toward the zero-waste goal. Even after the ban was overturned, many businesses continued using more sustainable items.

But, Beaches n' Cream, next to the Kew Beach's boardwalk, for several years refused to budge on using plastic spoons - despite numerous requests from customers and neighbours to switch to a more sustainable alternative.

Dora Attard, a local resident and teacher, has been picking up beach plastics for about seven years. She founded Plastic Free Beach, an initiative aimed at keeping local beaches clean and raising awareness about the consequences of litter and single-use items.

Beaches n Cream Toronto

Dora Attard, founder of Plastic Free Beach, holds one of her art pieces made from plastics found along the beach near her home. Attard sells her artworks online and at local markets.

On April 17, during Earth Month, Attard posted a photo on the Plastic Free Beach Instagram account of letters one of her students wrote urging Beaches n' Cream to stop using plastic spoons for their ice cream. 

The post caption reads:

"I spoke to my class today about all of the beach plastic that I find on our beaches during my clean ups. I mentioned that I find a lot of plastic ice cream spoons from @beachesncream I said that I have gone and asked them to please switch their spoons to wooden ones several times but they still haven't. A little boy in my class decided that he was going to write them a letter. The top picture says "Save the Earth" and the second one says 'Please change to wooden spoons'."

This wasn't the first time Attard has raised her concern regarding Beaches n' Cream's plastic spoons directly to the business's management.

Attard claims she has approached Beaches n' Cream "so many times" over several years, citing the "hundreds of plastic spoons" she has found on the beach. 

Beaches n Cream Toronto

In her workspace, Attard showcases some of the beach plastics she's found over the years. Plastic straws take on average 200 years to decompose.

Attard says that most of the responses she got were along the lines of "We're just finishing up our stock then switching." or "We can't find a wholesaler." or "There's distribution problems."

Also in April, another letter was addressed to Beaches n' Cream on behalf of students and faculty at Norway Public School, where one of Attard's children attends, urging the business to reconsider using plastic spoons again. 

Part of the school's letter reads:

"We are beginning to practice refusing to use single-use plastics and making the best effort to divert trash from landfills.Businesses that are dependant on single-use plastics are contributing to many of our environmental problems. These plastics take over 500 years to decompose and will end up polluting our oceans, lands, animals, and sitting in landfills for longer than the lifecycle of the actual product."

The teacher who hand-delivered the letter told Attard that Beaches n' Cream said  that they had no plan to switch because "our customers don't like the taste of wooden spoons."

Two weeks later, in a timely twist of events, Francesca Jamshidy of Beaches n' Cream told blogTO on Tuesday, May 7 that in their "ongoing commitment to sustainability" they had recently been able to "completely phase out the use of plastic spoons."

Attard feels that Beaches n' Cream's "reluctance to embrace sustainability" is concerning, especially considering the impact of improperly-disposed plastic spoons on the environment, particularly during warmer weather when beach visits increase. 

Beaches n Cream Toronto

Some of the items Dora Attard has collected from the beach over the past several years. Attard displays her favourite items proudly at home and at her stalls at various artisan markets.

I visited Beaches n' Cream on Sunday, May 5 and was given a plastic spoon with my ice cream. Giving the business the benefit of the doubt, this could simply indicate that they are finishing up their stock of plastic spoons.

It took two years Beaches n' Cream to phase out plastic cutlery for wooden cutlery for their food truck items. Regarding the gelato spoons, the business told blogTO that their supplier had a "distribution issue" sourcing wooden alternatives.

Ed's Real Scoop, another very popular local ice cream shop, switched to wooden spoons shortly after the federal ban was originally announced, it doesn't seem like sourcing had been an issue for the business.

Although federal legislation on single-use plastics has been overturned, many businesses continue maintaining or adopting sustainable practices. Municipalities are also taking action, with initiatives like Toronto's bylaw aiming to reduce single-use plastic waste.

As a local and frequent customer of Beaches n' Cream, and it's evident to me that the business would absolutely not have lost customers if they switched to wooden spoons sooner. 

Beaches n Cream Toronto

One of Attard's art pieces made from ice cream spoons from Beaches n' Cream and other plastic pieces she found on the beach.

Beaches n' Cream is in a prime location - just steps from the boardwalk and multiple beaches that the neighbourhood is known for - and they also hold a monopoly on food and drink (yes, even alcoholic!) sales for people visiting the area.

Beaches n' Cream has its main location at the foot of beautiful Kew Gardens, and a food truck at Woodbine Beach - one of Toronto's most popular beaches. On a sunny day, it's not uncommon to see large lineups at both locations.

While Attard is ultimately pleased that Beaches n' Cream has answered locals' ongoing calls to action to help keep the beach clean and change their practices, she's also frustrated that it took so long.

The businesses has not commented on the allegations made by Attard regarding telling another teacher that they had no intention of switching over. Beaches n' Cream maintains that they were experiencing a two-year supply issue.

Beaches n' Cream has not disclosed the name of their distributor.

Photos by

Erin Horrocks-Pope

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