New York City Has Officially Banned Foam Takeout Containers

iStock.com/Warren_Price
iStock.com/Warren_Price

New York City introduced a bill in 2018 that aims to ban plastic straws, and this year the city has set its sights on eliminating another environmental scourge: single-use foam containers.

As Grub Street reports, a foam ban went into effect on January 1, but businesses have until June 30 to comply. Beginning July 1, 2019, any businesses caught using the to-go containers will be fined. The law applies not only to takeout containers, but also to foam coffee cups, bowls, and plates as well as packing peanuts.

City officials initially approved the so-called "Foam Ban" in 2013, citing environmental concerns. However, as The New York Times points out, the containers are often incorrectly labeled as Styrofoam—a trademarked product made by Dow Chemical that isn’t used in disposable food containers.

More specifically, the containers are made of a type of plastic foam that’s not biodegradable and also notoriously hard to recycle. New York City's ban went into effect in July 2015, but a judge overturned it three months later, after the restaurant industry banded together and sued the city. The restaurant coalition argued the city could recycle the material and even save money by doing so. Of course, there were other motivating factors: Alternatives to plastic foam food containers are more expensive.

The legal battle continued into 2017, when another judged ruled in favor of the city and said the ban could be reenacted. However, the government is making special exceptions for nonprofit organizations and small business owners who can demonstrate that the ban would significantly hurt their operations. Also exempted are butcher shops, which use the foam containers for raw meat.

Meanwhile, a similar foam ban just took effect in the city of Rockville, Maryland. Dozens of other cities have banned the material, including Washington, DC, Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. As for the proposed plastic straw ban in New York City: whether the city will follow the example set by Seattle and other cities remains to be seen.

[h/t Grub Street]

The Northern Lights May be Visible in New York, Michigan, and Illinois on Saturday

iStock.com/den-belitsky
iStock.com/den-belitsky

The Northern Lights, a meteorological event most common to areas north of the Arctic Circle, may be visible over parts of America this weekend, Newsweek reports. Due to a solar storm, the light show may appear Saturday night over states in the northern part of the contiguous U.S., including New York, Michigan, Illinois, and Washington state.

Aurora borealis, or the Northern Lights, occur when solar particles react to gases in Earth's atmosphere. Magnetic energy exaggerates this effect, which is why auroras most often appear at the geomagnetic poles where Earth's magnetic field is strongest. Rare circumstances can produce this phenomenon at lower latitudes, which may be the case this weekend.

On Wednesday, March 20, a solar flare sent a blast of solar particles toward Earth. The resulting geomagnetic storm could make for a vibrant and colorful aurora reaching as far south as New York and Wisconsin.

To catch the spectacle, look up at the night sky on Saturday, March 23. People in areas with minimal light pollution have the best chance of seeing the Northern Lights, though cloudy weather may make them hard to see.

[h/t Newsweek]

The "World's Cleanest Garbage Can" Won't Stink Up Your Kitchen

Canbi
Canbi

Modern living has removed a lot of the sights and smells that people find unpleasant. Exhaust fans sweep away cooking odors. Toilets make waste vanish in seconds. But there's still the dreaded plume of stinking garbage that wafts up every time you open the kitchen trash can.

Enter Canbi, a sharp-looking and cleverly engineered kitchen garbage can designed to both reduce odors and improve the entire waste disposal process. The product, which is currently being funded on Kickstarter, uses an environmentally-friendly deodorizer that utilizes baking soda and activated charcoal to reduce smells coming from the can. It also features a "nesting" liner system that keeps bags from collapsing into the opening and eliminates the chore of fumbling with new bags. Pull one out for disposal, and another is already lining the can. The latex liners are also biodegradable, reducing your reliance on plastic bags that clog landfills.

The large and small sizes of the Canbi garbage can are pictured
Canbi

Canbi is designed to be flaunted, not hidden. Unlike most trash receptacles that are made to be stuffed under the sink or behind a cupboard, the sleek can, which comes in two different sizes, is made to be proudly displayed in your kitchen. The customizable accent rings come in three styles—gold, platinum, and rose gold—so that you can match your can to your favored kitchen aesthetic.

Buy it on Kickstarter. The 3-gallon can is available at the $29 donation level, while the 12-gallon version starts at $52. A 25-pack of replacement liners will be available on Canbi's website for roughly $7.49. Replacement deodorizers, which last three months, will run about $3.75. The trash cans are expected to ship in July.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER