New York City is Fighting Fatbergs in Sewers with a New PSA Campaign

Chris Hondros, Getty Images
Chris Hondros, Getty Images

There are certain consequences to living in an age of convenience. Plastic straws are filling up landfills, prompting widespread bans and restrictions on their distribution. Now, New York City is turning its attention to an even more disgusting scourge: fatbergs.

A fatberg is a repulsive coagulation of things you shouldn't flush down the toilet, like bacon grease and so-called “flushable” sanitary wipes. They can be immense: One London fatberg grew to be 143 tons, becoming a cautionary tale for the rest of the world.

These mobile chunks of waste travel in sewers, creating significant blockages. The fatbergs can force untreated water into clean water sources and cause backups in residential plumbing.

With New York City currently spending $20 million annually on clearing these blockages, officials have decided to mount a public campaign cautioning residents against some of their bad plumbing habits. They have a new website admonishing people to abide by the “Four Ps” of flushing—poop, pee, puke and (toilet) paper are fine, while grease and wet wipes are not. Those should be thrown in the garbage.

While most people don’t have a problem directing their vomit and feces into a toilet without written instruction, there’s still a widely held belief that wet wipes are safe to flush. This is likely due to companies labeling them “flushable” on packaging, though the city’s anti-fatberg site insists that “flushable” simply means they won’t clog a toilet. Once it’s in the sewer system and mingles with grease, the wipes begin to contribute to a public health problem. The city removed almost 53,000 tons of debris from sewage treatment screens in 2017. Most of it consisted of the wipes.

With 8.6 million people in New York creating a substantial amount of waste, it’s easy to see why city management feels an urge to curb the problem. But no matter where you live, it’s a good idea to relegate flushes to bodily fluids and toilet paper only. Cooking crease should be allowed to cool, then put in a container and thrown away.

[h/t Slate]

Make Shopping Easier With This Super-Light Reusable Bag

Nanobag 3.0
Nanobag 3.0

With the current state of our environment being what it is, it's vital to try to reuse, reduce, and recycle as much as possible. Every year, people consume billions of plastic bags, leading to tons of unnecessary waste. Many consumers have made the switch to reusable bags, but they're often not the sturdiest nor most attractive method of portage.

The Nanobag 3.0, which is now raising money on Kickstarter, claims to be a comfortable, easy-to-fold, high-quality bag that can reduce the number of single-use plastic bags needed per year. This super-soft sack can easily fit into the smallest of places, like the watch pocket in your jeans.

Putting a bag into the watch pocket of jeans
Nanobag 3.0

Weighing just 0.7 ounces, the Nanobag 3.0 is made of water- and dirt-repellant rip-stop fabric. You can carry about 66 pounds of goods in its 18-liter capacity, and the bag's reinforced handles work to distribute the weight evenly on your shoulder or arm. Attached to the bag is a small pouch that can carry keys or a small wallet, so you can have all your essentials in one place.

For each bag sold, one tree will be planted with the Eden Reforestation Projects, a non-profit organization that restores forests and reduces poverty in developing nations.

With over a month left in its campaign, the Nanobag 3.0 has already exceeded its goal of $3,831, raising over $73,000 as of June 17. By pledging $10 or more, you can get your own ultra-light and ultra-strong reusable bag on Kickstarter. Shipping is scheduled for December.

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!

633 Divers Set World Record for Largest Underwater Cleanup

iStock/kanarys
iStock/kanarys

According to NOAA, billions of pounds of waste are dumped in the world's oceans every year. On June 15, a record-breaking number of divers cleaned up thousands of pounds of it from the waters off Deerfield Beach in Florida, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports.

The 633 divers who participated in the ocean cleanup project earned the Guinness World Record for largest underwater cleanup ever. Outfitted in wetsuits and scuba gear, they cleared up to 3200 pounds of debris from the popular shoreline. Deerfield Beach is home to a fishing pier, so much of the waste they collected was related to that activity; lead fishing weights alone contributed 1600 pounds to their haul. Other noteworthy scraps found on the seafloor included a boat ladder, a barbell, and a sign warning boats to keep their distance from the pier.

The cleanup was part of the Dixie Divers' annual pier cleanup. For this year's event, a representative of Guinness World Record was present to take an official tally of the participants. The group broke the previous record for largest underwater cleanup set by a team of 614 divers in the Red Sea four years ago.

The waters off Deerfield Beach are home to reef that supports vibrant marine life. Now that divers have beautified that patch of ocean, the city of Deerfield Beach plans to dispose of the waste properly and recycle as much of it as possible.

[h/t Sun Sentinel]

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