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Frozen trash cans are environmentally questionable, but hard to resist

Should you feel guilty about freezing your garbage?

Frozen trash cans are environmentally questionable, but hard to resist

I feel guilty about my love of Petal, the next generation trash can that arrived in a person-size box on my doorstep last week. My stoop is a frequent destination for poorly conceived products that never should have been born, shipped to me by publicists. But I quickly became a Petal fan.

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What’s Petal?

It’s a narrow trash can that freezes your trash, so you can toss in anything smelly and enjoy an infinite amount of time until you have to take out the garbage.

What can I throw out?

Food scraps, diapers, compost, dog doo, sanitary products—anything. I use it for my compost, and my kitchen’s determined fruit fly colony promptly disappeared.

Who makes this thing?

Petal has announced that Danby will be the manufacturer and servicer. It was developed as a startup by a husband-wife team.

Who it’s not for

Anyone who promptly takes out the trash and never has odorous garbage.

Who will love it

Apartment dwellers for whom disposing of scraps is a hassle; diaper-using households; people with limited mobility for whom getting outside to empty the trash is a challenge; anyone who likes the convenience of trash sitting frozen.

Should I feel guilty about this?

Yes, of course. Traditional trash cans suffice, without consuming electricity and using refrigerant. (Petal calls its refrigerant “environmentally sustainable,” and says that its greenhouse warming potential is many times times lower than refrigerants used a few years ago.)

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This said, all nice kitchen trash cans eventually clog landfills–and Petal plans to collect your can when you’re done with it, via pre-paid shipping label, for recycling. You could possibly come out ahead on the environment scale over time by using your Petal to stop purchasing plastic garbage bags (the bin has a handle, and I’ve yet to need to clean mine) and becoming an avid composter: One third of New Yorkers’ trash is compostable food scraps and yard waste.

How much electricity does this thing eat?

Petal consumes 8kwh per month (under $1 in most places), the equivalent of running your dishwasher four times in a month, or your washing machine twice. It has a low-energy eco mode. Pro tip: If you take the plunge, commit to trimming down on another form of electricity use, such as air-conditioning.

So why do you like it?

As people with municipal composting know, countertop food scrap bins are a pain, either always overflowing or gross, and also a pest magnet (hello, fruit flies). Petal is an immediate solution to all of that.

If I want one, where do I go?

The $199 pre-sale starts on Tuesday, October 6, with units shipped out in January-March 2021; in the meantime, the wait list is here. The price will eventually rise to $349.

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