Afternoon Edition: Nov. 11, 2020

Good afternoon. Here’s the latest news you need to know in Chicago. It’s about a 5-minute read that will brief you on today’s biggest stories.

Happy Veterans Day, especially to those who have served or are serving. It’s officially cold again: This afternoon will be sunny, with a high near 47 degrees. Tonight’s low will be around 36 degrees. Tomorrow will be a little warmer: sunny with a high near 56 degrees.

Top story

Plastic waste problem ‘amplified’ by the pandemic

As the coronavirus pandemic pushes people to get more takeout and delivery food, it’s also having another effect: putting at least a temporary halt to the progress of a proposal to reduce single-use plastics and entirely ban polystyrene foam — Styrofoam — at Chicago restaurants.

To get an idea of the impact of that and of how much plastic waste is created even by just one meal, we ordered a bunch of takeout and delivery food and had an outdoor, socially distanced picnic.

On our picnic blanket: pizza, chicken wings, salads, a cheeseburger and fries, Chinese food and burritos. Some of it arrived in compostable cardboard containers or easily recycled aluminum trays. But there also was a lot of plastic.

And worse, in terms of the environment, some of the orders came nestled in polystyrene foam, commonly known by the trademarked name Styrofoam, which restaurants often use for takeout packaging and which isn’t recyclable.

Those single-use items will “probably last at least a century, maybe longer than a century,” according to Jennifer Dunn, director of research for the Northwestern-Argonne Institute of Science and Engineering, who assessed the pile of waste.

Single-use plastics common with takeout food, along with plastic bags — which have seen a resurgence at stores because of COVID-19 — are just one part of the plastic waste problem. Waste produced by health professionals to keep people safe from the virus — face masks, gloves, plastic gowns, face shields — also is piling up.

During the pandemic, consumption of single-use plastics, including medical equipment, is estimated to have increased by as much as 250% to 300%, according to the International Solid Waste Association.

And then there are all of those extra boxes from the additional online shopping so many of us have been doing. But much of those cardboard boxes are engineered to be recyclable — if people do that.

Ald. Scott Waguespack had championed the proposed Chicago ordinance last January. It would ban polystyrene containers, require reusable dishes for dining in and mandate recyclable or compostable containers for to-go orders.

But that push has been put off because restrictions that have been imposed due to the pandemic meant “our restaurants were really under siege,” Waguespack said, with many closing and most struggling financially.

Citywide, Chicago recycles only about 8% or 9% of its waste.

Jaclyn Wegner, the Shedd Aquarium’s director of conservation action, said plastics pose a danger to waterways that goes beyond littering rivers and lakes. Over time, they also degrade into microplastics — tiny particles that fish and other aquatic life consume at their peril.

The average American throws away an estimated 270 pounds of plastic each year per capita, Wegner said. “It was a problem before the pandemic. And now we are just seeing it amplified.”

Read our full special report, in partnership with ABC 7 Chicago.

More news you need

  1. Former Evanston basketball standout Ryan Bost was fatally shot Monday in Rogers Park on the North Side, police said. Bost, a 2019 Evanston Township High School graduate, was a three-year starting guard on the basketball team. He helped the Wildkits to a second place finish in the state his senior year and a third place finish his junior year.
  2. Illinois’ breathtaking COVID-19 resurgence soared to new heights for a second straight day today as public health officials announced 12,657 new cases of the deadly respiratory disease and the latest 145 deaths attributed to it. That’s the state’s worst daily death toll in almost six months.
  3. Restricting occupancy at restaurants, churches, stores and other public places is one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19. But fully reopening restaurants could lead to hundreds of thousands more infections in Chicago alone, new research has found.
  4. Gov. J.B. Pritzker said today he’s “disappointed” lawmakers decided to postpone their upcoming veto session and warned that some “serious and, frankly, painful cuts” are coming to address the state’s fiscal problems. “We’ve trimmed across the executive branch throughout the last two years, and there’s more to be done than just trimming,” Pritzker said.
  5. Legislators in Springfield are hashing out a plan that one lawmaker says could potentially double the number of new marijuana shops as the state grapples with an ongoing licensing imbroglio. The legislative fix would release 75 additional dispensary licenses, meaning there could eventually be a total of 150 new licenses.
  6. To show their appreciation for all those who have sacrificed for the country, restaurants and businesses are offering veterans and active-duty military personnel free meals, treats and special discounts today. Here’s our roundup of Veterans Day deals.

A bright one

Disney Channel shooting ‘Christmas Again’ film in Chicago

Early planning for the holidays is one thing, but the Disney Channel team now in Chicago is already gearing up for Christmas 2021.

Crews are on the city’s streets shooting “Christmas Again,” a movie scheduled to air next year on the cable outlet. It’s a youthful variation on a familiar holiday-movie trope: the disillusioned semi-Scrooge mystically forced to relive Christmas over and over.

Scarlett Estevez, who plays Gwen on Disney’s “Bunk’d,” stars as 11-year-old Ro, who’s sour on Christmas because her parents have divorced and her dad has a new love interest. An ill-phrased request to a mall Santa puts her in a “Groundhog Day”-style time loop that gives her new appreciation of her new blended family.

Scarlett Estevez plays a girl disillusioned with the holidays in “Christmas Again.”
Disney Channel

The project is a homecoming for at least two of the cast members: Mount Carmel grad Daniel Sunjata (“Rescue Me”), who plays Ro’s dad, and veteran Chicago stage actress Beth Lacke, cast as Dad’s girlfriend.

Also appearing is Broadway luminary Priscilla Lopez, who won a Tony Award for a role she originated in “A Chorus Line.”

Read Darel Jeven’s story here.

From the press box

Robert Quinn got a huge free agent contract from the Bears to help take their pass rush to the next level. Instead, he’s recorded just one sack and failed to emerge as a difference-maker on a team that can’t afford to waste salary cap space, Jason Lieser writes.

And while we’re only midway through a season in which the Bears are above .500, Mark Potash writes that it’s fair to call their upcoming matchup against the Vikings a moment of truth.

Your daily question ☕

How are you honoring the veterans and active-duty personnel in your life this Veterans Day?

Email us (please include your first name and where you live) and we might include your answer in the next Afternoon Edition.

Yesterday, we asked you: For those of you with about six months of working from home under your belt, what are your tips for staying productive? Here’s what some of you said…

“Get up and get dressed as you would for any workday.” — Ben Lopez

“Step away from the screen for at least an hour a day. Bucket it out into 20-minute breaks throughout the day if you have to, but do it. Otherwise, you’ll go insane.” — Kristina Michel

“Walk around the house a lot so you don’t get stiff. Stand during teams calls. Take little recharge breaks: go outside, even if you just look around. Get special candles. Get fully dressed. Turn your video on during meetings to stay more connected. If you do, chances are that others will. Music. Lots of water. I can’t believe I’ve been doing this since March 15.” — Michelle Wadzinski

“Going on walks daily. It sounds counterintuitive, but it helps clear the mind, helps you stay physically active, and is good for mental health.” — Ashley Marie

“Stop looking at Facebook.” — Mark D. Ritter

Thanks for reading the Chicago Afternoon Edition. Got a story you think we missed? Email us here.

Sign up here to get the Afternoon Edition in your inbox every day.

Latest posts