The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

August 19, 2008

Tara’s Organic Ice Cream – Their trash can is empty!

Michael was terribly excited last week to tell me that a new shop had opened in our neighborhood combining two of our biggest passions: ice cream and zero waste. “You have to come see and bring your camera so you can write about it!” He’s not often so emphatic about what I post on my blog, so I figured this must be serious!

We joined up with a couple of other ice cream-lovin’ friends on Sunday and headed up the street to Tara’s Organic Ice Cream, which just opened a week ago on College Avenue (near where Safeway wants to build its mega monstropolis.) And sure enough, the boy was right! The ice cream is awesome, certified organic, but even better, the shop offers only durable or compostable containers and utensils.

The spoons are metal (for eating in the shop) or made from potato starch (for taking to go.)

Even the little tasting spoons are made from metal.

The bowls and containers are either durable dishes, like this one that held my awesome ice cream sundae,

or they are made from bagasse (sugar cane fiber.)

I was happy to see that the only compostable item made from corn (a problematic crop) were the straws.

I chuckled yesterday when I read Lisa Sharp’s comment on this blog about reusable glass straws from Green Home because in fact, that’s exactly where Tara bought her compostable straws. Green Home sells both types. I’m all for reusable over compostable in general, but glass straws don’t seem practical for a tiny ice cream shop that’s mainly take-out. For my home, I may end up purchasing a set of glass straws just so I can throw an ice cream soda party, especially since they come with a handy cleaning brush. And they’re guaranteed against breakage.

Anyway, back at Tara’s, the waste station does include a trash can, but really, what would go in it?

And let’s not forget the ice cream itself. Awesome and interesting flavors. Ever tried tarragon chocolate?

Okay, so for those of us who are truly into zero waste, none of these compostable or durable containers are necessary. Ice cream cone’s the way to go! And I do wonder what happens to the compostable containers that leave the shop. Do folks know to put them in their composting bin or will they end up in the trash?

But we’ve got to start somewhere, right? And I think Tara’s making and awesome effort and showing other small businesses that even if the compostable option is a bit more expensive, offering these kinds of containers to customers and making a point of educating them about the difference can be done! I’m hoping Tara’s Organic Ice Cream sticks around here for a while!

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4 years ago

Now about how they treat dairy cows……..Vegan options are the way to a kinder treat! No more artificial insemination, no more babies ripped from their mothers and slaughtered for veal, less greenhouse gasses, and more compassion!!

13 years ago

Today, my mother in law sent me a sensationalistic video news report about how some products at Whole Foods were grown in China so they couldn’t be considered USDA NOP certified organic foods! Fortunately for me, I was able to explain the various aspects of organic certification and how the USDA farms out their work to various state and private agencies who then further farm it out to other outsourced laborers both here in the USA AND internationally! Trust me, after my organic tea company just finished its annual USDA certification through CCOF, I can assure anyone that the agencies are VERY thorough in ensuring that every ounce of my product is certified organic from the tea estate to the consumer. All the best. Jennifer

14 years ago

Ici has a similar setup, and it’s been in Berkeley longer than Tara’s. The tasting spoons are metal. All bowls are compostable as well as utensils, cups, straws and packaging. Inside the store there is a compost bin. Outside is a trashcan (though everything is compostable). Even the kitchen has compost bins.

The ingredients are also local and organic (plus seasonal).

15 years ago

Hey Beth! We have not 1, but 2 local organic nearly-zero-waste ice cream parlors in Marin. Three Twins Ice Cream off of Frietas Parkway in Northen San Rafael and The Fairfax Scoop in Fairfax. When I ride my bike to either one, it’s a zero waste trip all together!

The ice cream at both of the places I mentioned is hands down the best ice cream I’ve ever had, and I pine for the semi sweet chocolate flavor at 3 twins regularly…

15 years ago

Wow, what fabulous flavors.

15 years ago

“none of these compostable or durable containers are necessary. Ice cream cone’s the way to go!”

Agreed! And the folks who can’t have wheat or gluten should just hold the scoops in their hands! ‘Compostable containers’ indeed!

15 years ago


Thanks for the tip. I went there last night after reading this. I had the Garam Masala in a cone. It was quite delicious, and even though I am not a cone eater, I found the cone very tasty and light. I hope more businesses take a lead and move towards a no-plastic, no-styrefome model. By the way, have you been to Boulette’s Larder? I think they also have the compostable-plastic stuff for their takeout as well.

Wild Orchids for Trotsky
15 years ago

Looks wonderful – nice post and photos! Regarding the glass straws, if you have friends in lab sciences (especially biology etc), ask if they can get you a handful of pipettes from the lab supply (new of course!). Pipettes come in lots of different widths and lengths, so you should be able to get not only ones right for root beer floats but also for bubble tea…

15 years ago

Move over Coldstone! Thanks beth now I am drooling all over the keyboard at work!

15 years ago

I went on Monday. Just missed you! I have to say though: I’m not a huge fan of the saffron. Not quite right.
I went with (Turkish)coffee and (Mexican) chocolate.

I was very impressed by their efforts as well.

Clare K. R. Miller
15 years ago

I was about to comment that even though I’m vegan, if I were local I would seriously consider visiting this shop. Then I looked at the flavors. That’s not one, not two, but three amazing-sounding sorbet flavors. Maybe I can convince my family to move to Oakland…

Lisa Sharp
15 years ago

YAY Beth Terry talked about me haha. I want to go here so badly!!! I love ice cream. :) Looks wonder.

I think I’m going to get some of those straws soon.

15 years ago

That sounds great. We’re even luckier tho- can make ice cream from own eggs, neighbor’s milk, organic sugar (we’d have to buy that in the store) or honey from friends plus home grown strawberries! No chocolate tho!

What a bunch of great flavors and a shining example of recycling/no waste isn’t weird! Your blog too is an inspiration.

But… what’s the point of reducing plastic just to buy more little items? “I may end up purchasing a set of glass straws …they come with a handy cleaning brush”

15 years ago

oh man, that rocks so hard! :D

Anarres Natural Health
15 years ago

I fret about what happens to my compostable packaging after it leaves my clinic. I put stickers on recyclables telling people to reuse until the item breaks, then recycle. I put stickers on compostables telling them it's the alternative to plastics and to please compost after it's worn out. But here's what I think: worst case scenario, the stuff goes to landfill, where it decomposes slowly, but much better than other items. A bugger to have shipped it, but less damage done than the usual packaging.

I loaned my giant 80 lb roll of eucalyptus cellulose to a publications group putting together 150 gift baskets for Ontario gardeners. I fell like a missionary who just got an order for 150 bibles! I also made them 150 stickers so people know that it's not petroleum plastic. I got a call to tell me that staff were freaking out over the stuff. When people touch the compostable potato starch take out container, and compost it, it changes everything. Suddenly, the sustainable alternative is real and styrofoam is unacceptable.

I can't wait for fruit waste edible cling wrap.

Love & RRRevolution, Tracey

PS Alas, I am vegan. No ice cream shops love me boo hoo.

ruchi aka arduous
15 years ago

Sniff. You guys in the Bay always have the best of everything! Now you have zero-waste ice-cream TOO! No fair!!!

Heather from Make A Bag
15 years ago

Their prices are strikingly reasonble, too, considering:

1. West coast
2. Organic
3. Compostable stuff
4. Homemade

They should change their “medium” size items to “large” tho – feels like a better value, and they don’t have anything called “large,” so they really don’t have a medium size.

I’d eat there!

15 years ago

Oooh! Those flavors are amazing!

Kim from Milw
15 years ago

Great to see green businesses popping up! Thanks for sharing this, FPF.

But what the heck is Camote?

15 years ago

Very cool! What about napkins?

15 years ago

Wow – what a wonderful place! Now if more new businesses would just jump on the bandwagon we’d all live in a healthier world.