Sorry, Suckers: Seattle Becomes First U.S. City to Ban Plastic Straws and Utensils

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iStock

The plastic straw industry continues to be under siege. In early 2018, Queen Elizabeth II banned the soda-slurping devices from Buckingham Palace. McDonald’s followed suit by scrubbing their 1300 UK restaurants free of the environmentally unfriendly tubes, which prove hard to recycle (they’re often too small to make it through recycling sorters) and can take a long time to decompose.

Seattle has now become the latest to toss them aside, The Hill reports. July 1 marked the beginning of a ban on plastic straws as well as plastic utensils—the first such citywide prohibition in the United States. The ban applies to more than 5000 restaurants and eateries in the city, and is part of an overall effort to curb landfill and water-clogging waste. Businesses caught doling out the contraband could be fined up to $250.

Consumers will be able to request compostable plastic or paper straws, though neither one is a perfect solution: The former can still prove problematic in oceans, and the latter can shrivel up when submerged in liquid. Those with medical needs will still have access to flexible straws.

New York and San Francisco are considering similar bans. Some companies are already anticipating a world with limited access to straws. Starbucks recently introduced a specially-designed lid for their cold drinks that makes sipping easier.

[h/t The Hill]

Denver's Temperature Dropped a Record 64 Degrees In 24 Hours

Leonid Ikan/iStock via Getty Images
Leonid Ikan/iStock via Getty Images

One sure sign summer is over: On Wednesday, residents of Denver, Colorado were experiencing a comfortable 82-degree day. Just before midnight, the temperature dropped to 29 degrees. Between Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, the Denver airport recorded a differential of 79 degrees down to 24 degrees. At one point on Wednesday, a staggering 45-degree drop was seen in the span of just three hours.

All told, a one-day span saw a 64-degree change in temperature, from a high of 83 to a low of 19, a record for the state in the month of October and just two degrees shy of matching Denver’s all-time record drop of 66 degrees on January 25, 1872. On that date, the temperature plummeted from 46 degrees to -20 degrees.

Back to 2019: Citizens tried their best to cope with the jarring transition in their environment, to mixed success. On Wednesday, the city’s Washington Park was full of joggers and shorts-wearing outdoor enthusiasts. Thursday, only the most devoted runners were out, bundled up against the frigid weather.

The cold snap also brought with it some freezing drizzle which prompted several vehicular accidents, including 200 reported during Thursday's morning commute. It’s expected to warm up some in the coming days, but residents shouldn't get too comfortable: Melting ice could lead to potholes.

[h/t KRDO]

Invasive Snakehead Fish That Can Breathe on Land Is Roaming Georgia

Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

A fish recently found in Georgia has wildlife officials stirred up. In fact, they’re advising anyone who sees a northern snakehead to kill it on sight.

That death sentence might sound extreme, but there’s good reason for it. The northern snakehead, which can survive for brief periods on land and breathe air, is an invasive species in North America. With one specimen found in a privately owned pond in Gwinnett County, the state wants to take swift action to make certain the fish, which is native to East Asia, doesn’t continue to spread. Non-native species can upset local ecosystems by competing with native species for food and habitat.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division is advising people who encounter the snakehead—a long, splotchy-brown fish that can reach 3 feet in length—to kill it and freeze it, then report the catch to the agency's fisheries office.

Wildlife authorities believe snakeheads wind up in non-native areas as a result of the aquarium trade or food industry. A snakehead was recently caught in southwestern Pennsylvania. The species has been spotted in 14 states.

[h/t CNN]

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