San Francisco International Airport Bans Single-Use Plastic Water Bottles

nito100/iStock via Getty Images
nito100/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re planning on flying in or out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO) after August 19, don’t forget your reusable water bottle. Starting August 20, the airport will become the first in the country to ban single-use plastic water bottles.

The city passed an ordinance in 2014 stating that no plastic water bottles could be sold on city-owned property, including the airport. Since the vendors have had several years to prepare, SFO spokesman Doug Yakel told the San Francisco Chronicle that there hasn’t been much opposition to the ban. The airport also started installing filtered water dispensers throughout the premises back in 2011—there are now more than 100, with plans to add even more.

The ban does not extend to flavored water or any other bottled beverages, and flight attendants will continue to serve regular bottled water on the airplanes themselves. However, Yakel hopes that this initial phase of the plastic prohibition will prove successful and generate a broader ban. “Our hope is that migration will continue, where it’ll touch sodas and teas and juices and other flavored beverages,” he said. “Will this be the last change? Hopefully not.”

The airport’s master plan is to bring their net carbon emissions and energy use level to zero and eliminate most landfill waste by 2021. To help accomplish this, SFO has asked its vendors to switch to compostable products for single-use foodware, like to-go containers, condiment packets, straws, and utensils. Michael Levine, CEO of Tastes on the Fly, which oversees airport vendor Napa Farms Market, told the San Francisco Chronicle that those new requirements are much easier to abide by than the plastic water bottle ban, mostly because there are more suppliers offering compostable foodware alternatives than plastic-bottle alternatives these days.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, most SFO vendors are still currently selling plastic water bottles, so it remains to be seen how exactly the ban will take effect—if vendors will opt to stock their shops with non-plastic bottles, or if they’ll forgo offering plain water bottles altogether and let travelers fend for themselves. Hudson News, at least, plans to sell water in glass bottles and aluminum cans (which are marginally better for the environment than plastic bottles). As for those who fail to comply by August 20, there’s no definitive penalty plan. Yakel said they’re “hopeful that this won’t be necessary.”

And if you haven’t already, now might be a good time to invest in a reusable water bottle—check out this one, which runs on solar power and reminds you to hydrate.

[h/t San Francisco Chronicle]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture


This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Expeditions Gather Climate Change Clues on Mount Everest in Two New Documentaries

Team members climb up a slope during the expedition to find Sandy Irvine's remains on Mount Everest.
Team members climb up a slope during the expedition to find Sandy Irvine's remains on Mount Everest.
Matt Irving/National Geographic

Two one-hour documentaries premiering tonight reveal what Mount Everest is really like—and what scientists can learn from studying it.

Both docs are produced by and airing on National Geographic. In Lost on Everest, premiering at 9 p.m. EDT, climber Mark Synnott and Nat Geo photographer Renan Ozturk lead a team of seasoned mountaineers on a mission to discover what happened to Andrew “Sandy” Irvine, who vanished with fellow explorer George Mallory during the first Everest climb in June 1924. While Mallory’s body was located by a BBC-sponsored operation in 1999, Irvine’s exact fate has remained a mystery for nearly a century since his disappearance. As Synnott and his companions search for evidence, they encounter their own harrowing set of obstacles, from hurricane-force winds to medical emergencies.

Climbers on Mount Everest
Climbers ascend the Khumbu Icefall, a notoriously dangerous section of the summit route.
Mark Fisher/National Geographic Society

But Mount Everest isn’t only a challenge for adventure-seekers and intrepid investigators—it also holds thousands of years’ worth of information about how climate change has altered the environment, which can help scientists predict its future effects. In Expedition Everest, airing at 10 p.m. EDT, actor Tate Donovan narrates the journey of an international group of scientists and climbers with an ambitious set of data-collecting objectives.

One task is to use drones, laser scanners, and cameras to capture footage of every inch of the ascent, so researchers can create a 360-degree portrait of the mountain and track how glacial melt alters the landscape in the coming years. Since the Himalayas contain the water supply for roughly one-fourth of the world’s population, the increase in glacial melt—which has already doubled since 2000—could threaten the futures of billions of people living in the region.

Scientists drill ice cores on Mount Everest
Mariusz Potocki and members of the National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition team collect the highest-ever ice core at 8020 meters (26,312 feet) near the South Col of Everest.
Dirk Collins/National Geographic Society

Even more immediate is the risk of flash floods, which are difficult to predict without a constant feed of weather data from high altitudes. Another goal of the expedition is to install weather stations at five locations along the climbing route, which will monitor temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind speed, and other factors that help alert meteorologists to an impending flood.

Some researchers have joined the expedition to drill deep into the ice at an altitude above 8000 meters (26,000 feet)—Mount Everest's "death zone"—and collect ice cores. These long tubes of ice reveal how the atmosphere has changed over thousands of years. Others are collecting similar cores of sediment at the bottom of a lake, as well as examining how plant and animal life has adapted to the warming temperatures and rising water levels.

Overall, Expedition Everest illustrates how the Himalayas function as an early indicator of what climate change will do to other places.

As climate scientist Anton Seimon explains in the documentary, “We’re getting a window into what the rest of the world is starting to experience—and likely to experience in growing proportions.”

You can watch the double feature tonight, June 30, at 9 p.m. EDT on National Geographic.