The best kind of plastic debris from the ocean?
September 20, 2022 12:21 PM   Subscribe

Thousands of expensive Yeti coolers are washing up on shore after a cargo ship spilled 109 containers of them near Washington’s Olympic Peninsula last year. One greedy collector has reportedly nabbed 20 of them. Why this Alaska man needs the kind of cooler space that could keep 1,140 beers cold eludes us, but it sounds like a great time.
posted by spamandkimchi (60 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
 
yeah, I definitely think this was a publicity stunt...great job, though.
posted by hydra77 at 12:25 PM on September 20


> Why this Alaska man needs...

Yeti is a lifestyle brand and strong tribal marker so i dont see why this publication is perplexed by this. if owning one Yeti is a mark of virtue than owning 20 of them is obviously much more virtuous to those member of the Yeti tribe.
posted by glonous keming at 12:36 PM on September 20 [8 favorites]


we have coolers
posted by saladin at 12:38 PM on September 20 [16 favorites]


I have a Yeti on the tongue rack of my teardrop trailer. I bought it a few years ago and chose it over other kinds because I had an REI dividend to defray the cost and I wanted something bear proof. It's a great cooler, but in the process of figuring out my options for securing it to the rack it made me a little unhappy: Almost every forum post or comment I could find about how to tie it down involved people saying "... but I left it parked where I couldn't see it and it was gone in 15 minutes." Chains, shackles, cables, locks, etc. etc. etc. it just sounded like the mean life expectancy of a Yeti before succumbing to thieves is somewhere south of 20 minutes.

I bought a cheap brown plastic tarp and a pair of bungie cords at Fred Meyer and keep it covered. So far so good. But it definitely pulls double duty as a reminder that I should ask "do I want to care about this thing before I buy it?" If I'd known they were such impermanence magnets I would have shopped around more.
posted by mph at 12:40 PM on September 20 [14 favorites]


Nobody dumps 109 containers full of something expensive in the ocean as a publicity stunt. On the other hand, flying over Alaska and dumping a handful here and there out of an airplane, that I could maybe believe.
posted by jacquilynne at 12:48 PM on September 20 [15 favorites]


Why this Alaska man needs...

Alternate explanation, as explained by Richie Aprile, played by David Proval: "Coolers are like scissors. Everyone wants one, but nobody has a fuckin' idea how much they cost."
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 12:48 PM on September 20 [6 favorites]


The answer in the case of Yeti coolers: more than you think. Possibly a lot more.
posted by box at 12:50 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Yeti coolers are $200-$500 so yeah I'll take 20 of them free. At that price you can even eat the eBay shipping from Alaska.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:00 PM on September 20 [15 favorites]


We can make bulletproof coolers and titanium cutlery, but not sneakers that don't come unglued or Kevlar lined flip flops. Bah, humbug.
posted by Bee'sWing at 1:02 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


...I definitely think this was a publicity stunt...
The Zim Kingston spill definitely happened, and it wasn't only Yetis that were in the containers lost overboard. All kinds of shit has been washing up on beaches in BC and Alaska, including:

...inflatable paddle boards, plastic soup lids, rubber boots, toy unicorns, urinal screens, bags of prawn chips, refrigerators, Christmas decorations, toys, gym mats, clothing, shoes, bicycle helmets...
posted by theory at 1:13 PM on September 20 [16 favorites]


...inflatable paddle boards, plastic soup lids, rubber boots, toy unicorns, urinal screens, bags of prawn chips, refrigerators, Christmas decorations, toys, gym mats, clothing, shoes, bicycle helmets...

"Shoot, a fella could have a pretty good weekend in Vegas with all that stuff!"
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 1:15 PM on September 20 [42 favorites]


20 coolers is a refrigerator in Alaska if you are off the grid with no electricity.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 1:19 PM on September 20 [13 favorites]


Are these coolers vacuum insulated?

If so, they might be worth hundreds of dollars. Otherwise, no.
posted by jamjam at 1:20 PM on September 20


yeah, I definitely think this was a publicity stunt...great job, though.

No, it most certainly was not a "stunt".
posted by Ahmad Khani at 1:20 PM on September 20 [9 favorites]


I have no idea how these people got their Yeti coolers wedged into their peninsula, or why.
posted by fedward at 1:37 PM on September 20 [10 favorites]


Are these coolers vacuum insulated?

If so, they might be worth hundreds of dollars…


After looking at some reviews and looking at coolers in person I bought a Yeti, mainly for my boat. A cheap cooler full of ice and drinks will not last a day in the summer sun in GA. Even compared to other rotomolded coolers the Yeti seems to stand out. First of all, it is very sturdy, and replacement parts are available so it should last a very long time. When I had to keep a bunch of ice cream frozen for a party I put it in the Yeti with a couple of pounds of dry ice. The ice cream was long gone but there was still dry ice after 2 days at 70ish degree ambient temps. Whenever I have it side by side with other coolers the difference in retaining cold (or heat; I use it to hold chunks of meat after I BBQ it as well) is very noticeable. Having said that, as with all things thermodynamic there are trade offs. Yes it is expensive. And marketing it as a Veblen good does not help and only makes it attractive to thieves. They are also heavy; thick plastic and whatever they use for insulation weights a lot more than cheap plastic coolers of similar size. One of the more noticeable things is that the walls are really thick to contain whatever they use for insulation. So there is significantly less room in them than there is in other coolers, even the Yeti knock-offs. So they aren’t for everyone and are probably somewhat overpriced, but they are good coolers when it comes to maintaining a large temp gradient.
posted by TedW at 1:44 PM on September 20 [12 favorites]


... was the Yeti coolers we collected along the way.
posted by NoThisIsPatrick at 2:12 PM on September 20 [4 favorites]


a joke from someone: “I saw a guy with a truckers cap that said, “I like drinking beer during the day, outside, with friends”. Actually…it just said Yeti.”
posted by Carmody'sPrize at 2:31 PM on September 20 [7 favorites]


No less than three spam emails got through my filters today telling me I have won one of these stupid things. Maybe they're being sent by this guy!
posted by Foosnark at 2:48 PM on September 20


I would join in the Yeti scorn but I just saw they come in safety orange, and now I want one.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:50 PM on September 20 [8 favorites]


>but not sneakers that don't come unglued or Kevlar lined flip flops. Bah, humbug.

Literally just a google search away.

Is there a Rule of the Internet thirty-something or another for, "if a thing is for sale, there's a tactical thing of it for sale"?
posted by WaylandSmith at 2:57 PM on September 20 [8 favorites]


So who's really responsible for cleaning up this sort of pollution? sure it's great that some people got free coolers, but not everything dumped at sea is a $500 cooler - someone must be on the hook for cleaning up these sorts of messes, we hold oil spillers responsible why not plastic spillers?
posted by mbo at 3:20 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


So who's really responsible for cleaning up this sort of pollution? sure it's great that some people got free coolers, but not everything dumped at sea is a $500 cooler - someone must be on the hook for cleaning up these sorts of messes, we hold oil spillers responsible why not plastic spillers?

From the link that Ahmad Khani shared above:
Response Phase Detail
The responsible person or spiller is legally required to clean-up or manage the clean-up of a spill. In incidents where the responsible person is unknown, unable or unwilling to manage the clean up, the Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy (ENV) may assume the role.

October 30 - 4:30 pm

Shoreline cleanup has begun, the owner of the M/V Zim Kingston has hired contractors to remove debris from the beach as well as recover the containers; this is being coordinated through the Incident Command Post. Crews were at Cape Palmerston yesterday (October 29, 2021) and today collecting debris from the beach. They removed 35 industrial garbage bags and three helicopter bags filled with Styrofoam yesterday and about 40 refrigerators have been moved above the high-water mark for removal.

Currently the incident is not requesting any volunteers for debris cleanup. Should members of the public encounter a container they should avoid opening it and call 1-800-889-8852 immediately.

Other than the initial four, no other containers have been found so far though the search continues.
posted by Jawn at 3:36 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


thanks - though I must admit it was more of a ranty rhetorical question :-)
posted by mbo at 3:40 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


These are a knock off of the Australian Esky.

In another uniquely Australian piece of culture, poly-foam bodyboards used in the surf are often referred to by the slang term, "Esky-lid”, or “shark biscuit”.

This is backwards. Esky lids are buoyant and make ideal improvised bodyboards. Perfect size for a kid adept256. If Yetis are the same as an Esky they'll float even when completely waterlogged.

I'm reminded of the summer that the McDonalds at Surfer's Paradise stopped serving meals on trays. They kept ending up in the ocean because kids were using them in the surf.
posted by adept256 at 3:40 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Right after I read this article, the mister came into the room.

“So, I’m ab..”
“The hottest new sport in Alaska is hunting Yetis!”
“People are… hunting? Mythical creatures?”
“No”
“They’re hunting coolers?”
“Yes!”
“Ok, so anyway, I’m about to go the market. No, I’m still ignoring that conversation. Do you need anything?”

His boss got him a Yeti tumbler once and the mister is a little frightened of how well it works.
posted by Ruki at 3:48 PM on September 20 [8 favorites]


The testament of the dry ice is pretty convincing, TedW — and Pope Guilty's reference to a $500 price tag reinforces your point about a Veblen good.

Just for comparison purposes, I found a used XLC-230 liquid nitrogen wide mouth stainless steel dewar on casters, with an internal chamber 16” wide and 30” deep (giving it a volume ~100 liters), for $850 on eBay (I’m not linking to the page because the URL was more than 1000 characters long, and I’m not encouraging that kind of insanity). There were other, much cheaper interesting candidates, but their sellers couldn’t be arsed to provide any information about volume.
posted by jamjam at 3:56 PM on September 20


US - "cooler"
AU - "esky"
NZ - "chilli-bin"

there are any number of esky adjacent things in the world, wikipedia says the inventor is unknown - the victorians had ice chests so it's not a new idea
posted by mbo at 4:13 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


I was at the new Teton Gravity Salt Lake Premiere of Magic Hour last night.....Yeti are a major sponsor of the movie and they gave away a small number of expensive Yeti coolers at the event.....likewise they will rock up to the occasional ski event and give away a cooler or two but never more than that. I'm sure they are pissed that their brand is being associated with the pollution given the massive focus on environmental issues for their target outdoors markets. I'd say asymptotically approaching zero chance this was marketing - it would be brand suicide.
posted by inflatablekiwi at 4:18 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


See, this is why I love Metafilter. I go to a thread about coolers washing up on Alaskan shores, and now I know about Veblen goods and that Kiwis call these things "chilli-bins" and my life is just a little bit better.
posted by gwint at 4:23 PM on September 20 [29 favorites]


now I know about Veblen goods and that Kiwis call these things "chilli-bins" and my life is just a little bit better.

Hard same, but the thread won me over at “shark biscuit”.
posted by notoriety public at 4:42 PM on September 20 [11 favorites]


...inflatable paddle boards, plastic soup lids, rubber boots, toy unicorns, urinal screens, bags of prawn chips, refrigerators, Christmas decorations, toys, gym mats, clothing, shoes, bicycle helmets...

Fisherman, proudly showing off his free Yeti cooler: what'd you get?
2nd fisherman, disappointed: couple a' urinal screens.
posted by ctmf at 4:57 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


this video clip shows a wonderful example of international misunderstanding of the meaning of "eski"/chilli-bin"/"cooler"
posted by mbo at 4:57 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


A urinal screen will get you through times of no Yetis better than a Yeti will get you through a time of no urinal screens.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:17 PM on September 20 [4 favorites]


Was just coming here to post that link and this thread has exceeded my expectations.
posted by jessamyn at 5:19 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]




Are these coolers vacuum insulated?

They're filled with a very high density foam. Witness.
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:10 PM on September 20


These success stories are not really impressing me. My cooler can keep dry ice and ice cream sandwiches* at burning man until Thursday, which is four days of 45°-100° weather. Any fairly large, reasonably good cooler should be able to. It’s not rocket science, it’s just a function of the thickness of the foam walls and the surface area to volume ratio (size and closeness to a cube). Also you have to not open it all the dang time (the ice cream sandwiches were a mid-week surprise treat for my campmates)

* homemade.
posted by aubilenon at 6:47 PM on September 20


Ok, so I’m a person who does a lot of outdoor stuff (for whatever it’s worth, on the East-coast; not all of it car-based), and I’ve absolutely never understood the appeal of these things.

I’ve never had a major issue with the durability or heat capacity of a normal cooler, nor do I have particularly many uses for a cooler in the first place. Where are you all going for days on end where it’s practical to carry these massive things, you don’t have access to refrigeration, and you absolutely must keep something cold?

Am I missing something, or is this just a weird masculinity/status-symbol thing?

(I’m not trying to rain on anybody’s parade; I’m genuinely curious)
posted by schmod at 7:17 PM on September 20 [2 favorites]


Where are you all going for days on end where it’s practical to carry these massive things, you don’t have access to refrigeration, and you absolutely must keep something cold?

Cold drinks at the beach, decent grub while you're camping, ice cream sandwiches in the desert. And you don't need to keep your fish in the glove box any more.
posted by adept256 at 7:30 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


> Am I missing something, or is this just a weird masculinity/status-symbol thing

My masculinity is not to be questioned, but I love a good cooler. I do a lot of car camping, I carry several days of food for anywhere from four to ten people, and I want to keep our cold food cold. I don't have a high-end cooler (I would feel like a jackass with one) but I do envy their chill ways.

If I can't get additional ice during the trip, the things in the cooler are definitely not as cool as I'd like them by day three.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:33 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Where are you all going for days on end where it’s practical to carry these massive things, you don’t have access to refrigeration, and you absolutely must keep something cold?

I’m in New England, so beach, but if I had the disposable income, I’d buy one specifically because the power grid where I live is, um, elderly. The last time a hurricane hit here, we lost power for a week. We’ve since had a gas stove installed, so having a heavy duty cooler would save us money from not having to throw out the entirety of our fridge and basement freezer and would feed us for a few days. Oh, and it would save me a ton of hassle with my insurance, because I take a migraine prophylactic shot that needs to be refrigerated. Every three months I have to tell them that I refuse to store a three month supply of medication that costs $150 in my fridge because I can’t guarantee that we won’t randomly lose power and I’d have to toss the medication and pay for a new one, so I will, in fact, pick it up every month from the pharmacy even though it’s a maintenance drug so you won’t cover it unless I get a three month supply, thank you very much.
posted by Ruki at 7:41 PM on September 20 [3 favorites]


My Girl Scouts, for example, always want to eat the same meals on our trips. We do walking tacos for Friday dinner (cooler: ground beef, cheese, lettuce). Saturday breakfast we have waffles and bacon (cooler: waffles, yoghurt). Saturday lunch we do sandwiches (cooler: cold cuts, cheese, condiments). Saturday dinner varies. Saturday dessert is Will It Pie Iron (cooler: croissant dough). Sunday breakfast we do potluck cereal bar (cooler: milk, oat milk). And they're teenager so we can easily fill one cooler just with fruit. We label the coolers with their contents and try to pack them so they don't get opened recklessly, but there's only so much yelling I can do.

So yeah, we could pick different menus; we know how to camp with no coolers at all. But this is more fun.

I think Yetis probably wouldn't be great for the Girl Scouts because they're so bulky and we're crammed into one or two minivans. This is me just pondering my love of good coolers, and thinking about how a high quality cooler would be delightful when I'm going with just a few people. Dang, but I appreciate a cooler. Previously. Previously.
posted by The corpse in the library at 7:49 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Will It Pie Iron?
posted by adept256 at 7:53 PM on September 20


> Will It Pie Iron?

You take a pie iron and you see what of the remnants from all your other meals will make good food. So maybe you have bread from lunch, and chocolate and marshmallows from the previous night's s'mores, and some bacon from breakfast? Or maybe you have croissant dough, and jam and cheese left over from lunch? Or maybe you have carrots and grapes because you're 14 years old and just like putting things in the campfire.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:08 PM on September 20 [4 favorites]


Where are you all going for days on end where it’s practical to carry these massive things, you don’t have access to refrigeration, and you absolutely must keep something cold?

I went on a week-long camping trip. Yeti needed a bag of ice every three days. That made the trip easier, in terms of not having to put in a bag once a day, as I'd have had to have done with for other cooler.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 8:58 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


One imagines the proper companion for an Esky(mo) would be a Little Playmate, manufactured by Igloo.

Are/were these also ubiquitous near you, as the preferred builder/tradey/construction worker lunch box/pail/(tiffin? I dunno)

Some shaded spot at the job site has a pile of these, and you tell whose is whose by the different bumper stickers/sports teams/flowers and ponies and daDDy's drawn in permanent marker (what, I have daughters!)?
posted by bartleby at 9:47 PM on September 20 [1 favorite]


Mid-Atlantic, I really like having a cooler for everything from grocery runs to car camping to hurricane preparedness. The higher-end igloos are just fine, although I wouldn’t snub a free Yeti if it washed up my way.
posted by aspersioncast at 5:10 AM on September 21


Last night I dreamed about a cooler that’s the size of a large trash bin, like the kind you empty your regular bins into and then put out on the curb on trash day.

Looks like the largest cooler Yeti makes in the waking world is almost half that size (160 quarts vs 96 gallons) However it is out of stock, perhaps due to a shipping incident.
posted by aubilenon at 6:08 AM on September 21


Mid-Atlantic, I really like having a cooler for

I initially parsed that opening as “in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean” and thought that keeping one’s food at a correct temperature would be a relatively low priority for me in this situation.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:08 AM on September 21 [3 favorites]


I was imagining them saying "I really like having a cooler..." in a Katherine Hepburn Mid-Atlantic accent
posted by aubilenon at 6:25 AM on September 21 [3 favorites]


I initially parsed that opening as “in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean” and thought that keeping one’s food at a correct temperature would be a relatively low priority for me in this situation.

I am guessing you don't sail...
posted by jacquilynne at 6:27 AM on September 21


I've seen independent tests of these things and cheaper coolers work just as well if not better. Yeti is just another one of those bizarre fashion accessories that comes along that people just "have to have."

I'd feel differently if these things were made in a factory with good wages and benefits, etc but they're made in sweatshops overseas like their cheaper counterparts.
posted by drstrangelove at 8:22 AM on September 21


Was just coming here to post that link and this thread has exceeded my expectations.

One could say...

...cooler heads have prevailed.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:00 AM on September 21 [6 favorites]


Several years ago, I bought a 120 quart Coleman cooler for $50 on Amazon. And I will say right off the bat that this cooler is too big and too heavy.

BUT! The physics of coolers favor larger coolers, because heat loss scales with area (x^2) and ice capacity scales with volume (x^3). This favors physically large coolers. I load my cooler with 80 lbs of ice, and it will last more than 10 days in comfortable weather (i.e. not 100 F all day).

The only real failure of my $50 Coleman cooler is the lid seal, which lets in rain water. A trickle of rain water will melt your ice fast. This is easily solved with a tarp, though.

My use case is long car camping / off road trips, and I only need to load/unload the cooler; I don't need to carry it any distance. The cooler weighs something like 120 lbs fully loaded.

So what I'm saying is, if you've already decided you're ok with a big, heavy, unwieldy cooler, maybe try a cheap one first. Big cheap coolers perform a lot better than small cheap coolers.

p.s. I've stored my giant coleman cooler in my unsecured condo parking lot for years and nobody has tried to steal it.
posted by ryanrs at 11:46 AM on September 21 [1 favorite]


So, would Apple products be an example of a Veblen good?
(lights fuse, walks away)
posted by Furnace of Doubt at 12:31 PM on September 21


I am trying to not have feelings about coolers in the way that I have feelings about thermos(esses?), stoves and grills, gardening and cooking and construction tools, art supplies, and luggage, but I'm feeling the pull of many coolers needed now. Dangnabbit.
posted by winesong at 4:18 PM on September 21 [2 favorites]


I am guessing you don't sail...

I do (though I have not in a decade now); in my mind’s eye, I was thinking about being mid-Atlantic sans boat. The flotation abilities of the coolers would be welcome. The temperature preservation aspects... secondary.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:08 PM on September 21 [1 favorite]


These are a knock off of the Australian Esky.--adept256

Actually, it may be the other way around. According to this Brief History of Coolers it looks like Yeti was the first cooler to do rotomolding--one piece molded coolers known for keeping ice cold the longest.

Although Esky has been making coolers for decades, their rotomolded coolers came out after Yeti's.
posted by eye of newt at 11:21 PM on September 21


I am trying to not have feelings about coolers in the way that I have feelings about thermos(esses?)

I am always tempted to use the grocer's apostrophe (thermos') because it preserves the 'mothers' anagram.

My gateway drug into thermos love was coffee thermoses when I started drinking that at age 29.

As an index of how far I’ve fallen, I now have more than a dozen wide mouth glass lined thermos between 3L and 7L inclusive, with many more less than that.

I did once turn down the chance to buy a 50L liquid nitrogen dewar in the traditional form of long neck with a narrow opening and a spherical body for ~$50, however — mainly because I thought it would be impossible to clean if I ever used it for anything other than liquid nitrogen. But that hasn’t kept me from being proud of my self-restraint (or from kind of regretting not buying it, I have to admit).
posted by jamjam at 11:44 AM on September 22 [2 favorites]


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