McDonald’s announced on Tuesday that its beloved McFlurry is getting a “sustainable makeover.”
Across the U.S., the fast food giant is swapping out its iconic hollow, plastic McFlurry spoon for one that uses less plastic. McDonald’s will also stir its soft-serve dessert with a reusable spindle rather than using the plastic McFlurry spoon.
“This small change will help reduce single-use plastic waste in restaurants – while giving customers the same delicious McFlurry they know and love. That’s a win-win in our book,” the company’s press release reads.
But that’s not how some die-hard McFlurry fans see the change.
In two separate posts on Reddit, both of which have dozens of comments, McDonald’s customers complained about the sustainable transition, making three general criticisms.
McDonald's Is Greenwashing Its Image
The first claim is that the McFlurry change is hypocritical for a huge company with a poor environmental record, one that emits more carbon per year than Norway.
“Let's completely destroy the enjoyment of a McFlurry to save the planet for the giga-corporations to destroy themselves with their global-scale lack of sustainability,” one comment reads.
Although the commenter doesn’t name greenwashing, that’s essentially the criticism they’re making. When a company greenwashes its image, it makes itself seem more environmentally friendly than it actually is. In other words, McDonald’s can make a small change, like switching to a more sustainable spoon, while continuing to emit millions of tons of earth-warming gasses.
Speaking to the Guardian in 2021, Bard College environmental and urban studies professor Gidon Eshel makes that very point.
“The naked truth is McDonald’s is in a business that is fundamentally at odds with the Earth’s integrity,” Eshel says. “No fig leaf, however persuasive or covering it is, can change that fact.”
Sustainable Spoons Will Be ‘Less Enjoyable’
Other consumers are simply fed up with the tradeoffs that come with green initiatives, with some comparing the McFlurry change to the industry-wide shift to paper straws.
International McFlurry fans in Germany and Canada said that the transition to a wooden spoon has ruined the shake.
A German Redditor writes that the switch “essentially ended the McFlurry” because “the new spoon cannot be used to blend the ice cream and toppings.”
Canadians agreed, with one commenter saying that the wooden spoon “makes a McFlurry about 30% less enjoyable.”
The Bottom Line: McDonald’s Should Fix Its Ice Cream Machines First
Finally, McDonald’s fans were disappointed that the company is investing its time into changing the McFlurry spoon when they see a more pressing concern: McDonald’s perpetually broken ice cream machines.
“I was going to say that it doesn't matter what kind of spoon they ‘use’ because the ice cream machine is always broken anyway,” a Redditor writes.