Would You Pay $400 to Party at Olive Garden on New Year’s Eve?

On any given night, you could waltz into Olive Garden’s Times Square restaurant with $20 in your pocket and leave an hour later with a belly full of pasta and a pocketful of leftover dollars. But December 31st is not just any night, not even for the country’s “largest chain of Italian-themed restaurants.” Because it boasts an enviable (for New Year’s Eve) 2 Times Square address, Olive Garden is putting a premium on its eggplant parm for the evening, charging revelers $400 apiece to ring in the new year. And tickets are reportedly going fast!

The five-hour Garden party, which kicks off at 8 p.m., includes everything one needs to say goodbye to 2015 in style: platefuls of food (chicken con broccoli, shrimp primavera, chicken marsala, eggplant parm, and mashed potatoes are among the delicacies promised as part of the full buffet), several open bars, a live DJ, plenty of dancing, a champagne toast at midnight, and several hundred strangers with whom to share the evening are all included in the hefty pricetag.

While it was originally reported that the restaurant’s beloved breadsticks would not be making an appearance (cue the Twitter outrage), a company spokesperson assured DNAinfo (and deep-pocketed carb-lovers everywhere) that that was simply not true.

Though the breadstick crisis has been averted, there is a rub: Olive Garden’s view of the actual ball drop is limited, so partygoers intent on seeing all 2688 of the ball’s Waterford Crystal triangles in the background of their selfies might be out of luck. “With the cooperation of the NYPD and security, we are hoping to get to see the ball drop from just outside our front doors,” said a spokesperson for the restaurant. “But due to security issues we can't sell the tickets on the premise that outside view of the ball drop is guaranteed.”

Ball drop or breadsticks? You decide.

An Eco-Friendly Startup Is Converting Banana Peels Into Fabric for Clothes

A new startup has found a unique way to tackle pollution while simultaneously supporting sustainable fashion. Circular Systems, a “clean-tech new materials company,” is transforming banana byproducts, pineapple leaves, sugarcane bark, and flax and hemp stalk into natural fabrics, according to Fast Company.

These five crops alone meet more than twice the global demand for fibers, and the conversion process provides farmers with an additional revenue stream, according to the company’s website. Fashion brands like H&M and Levi’s are already in talks with Circular Systems to incorporate some of these sustainable fibers into their clothes.

Additionally, Circular Systems recycles used clothing to make new fibers, and another technology called Orbital spins those textile scraps and crop byproducts together to create a durable type of yarn.

People eat about 100 billion bananas per year globally, resulting in 270 million tons of discarded peels. (Americans alone consume 3.2 billion pounds of bananas annually.) Although peels are biodegradable, they emit methane—a greenhouse gas—during decomposition. Crop burning, on the other hand, is even worse because it causes significant air pollution.

As Fast Company points out, using leaves and bark to create clothing may seem pretty groundbreaking, but 97 percent of the fibers used in clothes in 1960 were natural. Today, that figure is only 35 percent.

However, Circular Systems has joined a growing number of fashion brands and textile companies that are seeking out sustainable alternatives. Gucci has started incorporating a biodegradable material into some of its sunglasses, Bolt Threads invented a material made from mushroom filaments, and pineapple “leather” has been around for a couple of years now.

[h/t Fast Company]

New Plant-Based Coating Can Keep Your Avocados Fresh for Twice as Long

Thanks to a food technology startup called Apeel Sciences, eating fresh avocados will soon be a lot easier. The Bill Gates–backed company has developed a coating designed to keep avocados fresh for up to twice as long as traditional fruit, Bloomberg reports, and these long-lasting avocados will soon be available at 100 grocery stores across the Midwestern U.S. Thirty or so of the grocery stores involved in the limited rollout of the Apeel avocado will be Costcos, so feel free to buy in bulk.

Getting an avocado to a U.S. grocery store is more complicated than it sounds; the majority of avocados sold in the U.S. come from California or Mexico, making it tricky to get fruit to the Midwest or New England at just the right moment in an avocado’s life cycle.

Apeel’s coating is made of plant material—lipids and glycerolipids derived from peels, seeds, and pulp—that acts as an extra layer of protective peel on the fruit, keeping water in and oxygen out, and thus reducing spoilage. (Oxidation is the reason that your sliced avocados and apples brown after they’ve been exposed to the air for a while.) The tasteless coating comes in a powder that fruit producers mix with water and then dip their fruit into.

A side-by-side comparison of a coated and uncoated avocado after 30 days, with the uncoated avocado looking spoiled and the coated one looking fresh

According to Apeel, coating a piece of produce in this way can keep it fresh for two to three times longer than normal without any sort of refrigeration or preservatives. This not only allows consumers a few more days to make use of their produce before it goes bad, reducing food waste, but can allow producers to ship their goods to farther-away markets without refrigeration.

Avocados are the first of Apeel's fruits to make it to market, but there are plans to debut other Apeel-coated produce varieties in the future. The company has tested its technology on apples, artichokes, mangoes, and several other fruits and vegetables.

[h/t Bloomberg]


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