Why You Should Always Leave the Cap on a Plastic Bottle Before You Recycle It

iStock.com/sdominick
iStock.com/sdominick

Before you toss another empty plastic bottle into the recycling bin in your kitchen, you might want to make sure the cap is still attached. As Lifehacker points out, when you remove the cap from a plastic bottle, “you’ve essentially thrown it right in the garbage.”

This advice seems to go against everything we’ve been taught in the past. It’s true that bottles and caps are typically made of different kinds of plastic—and that used to pose problems at recycling plants. “In the past the plastics recycling industry was not able to effectively recycle bottles with caps on so the message to remove the cap was created,” the Association of Plastic Recyclers explains on its website.

Recycling technologies have improved since then, and keeping the lid on is no longer an issue. Essentially, the two components are separated naturally in a process referred to as a water bath. The bottles float and the caps sink, making it easy to separate the two materials.

On the other hand, removing the caps can cause them to be improperly sorted early on in the recycling process. Because of their small size, individual caps are often sorted into piles of landfill-bound waste. They are also common ocean pollutants, and can seriously harm marine life if they are ingested. By some estimates, 5 billion plastic caps pollute the environment in California alone each year.

It’s also common for people to crush plastic bottles before placing them in the bin, but that should also be avoided. That’s because they could be confused for paper during the sorting process and end up in the wrong place (at least that's the case if your community uses a single-stream recycling program). “Retaining a 3D form can help containers be successfully sorted,” according to The Association of Plastic Recyclers.

In summary: Dump out any liquids left inside the bottle, replace the cap, and toss it in the recycling bin—but be sure to check with your individual recycling program to see if there are any exceptions to the rule.

[h/t Lifehacker]

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