Home > Business, Editorial > Sun Chip Bags Signal The Eventual Death of the Earth: Part II

Sun Chip Bags Signal The Eventual Death of the Earth: Part II

Back in October I reacted to the news of Sun Chips mostly discontinuing their environmentally-friendly packaging due to the fact that it was supposedly too noisy. I used the story to launch into questioning our current commitment to saving our planet if we can’t even put up with a noisy bag. But recently, Sun Chips has announced that it will release a new version of the bag. Thus, it was the perfect opportunity to remake the piece. Add more research, add more to the story, and explore the questions posed more deeply. Unlike most remakes, I like this remake better than the original and the responce has been positive to it thus far. So enjoy the piece, and rethink the issue once more. The original piece can be found here: https://randomindependent.wordpress.com/?s=sun+chips

Sometimes the biggest disasters can be signaled early by the most seemingly insignificant sign. The water in the vicinity of a volcano might have a sulfur taste. Earthquakes are preceded by much smaller quakes. The man in the crow’s nest on the Titanic lost his binoculars. All seem small at the time, but all lead to big trouble. I believe that we have witnessed a huge blow to the “Green Movement,” which could eventually lead to our planet’s eventual destruction. In the year 2050, aliens will look at a burning water covered Earth from afar and say it all started with Sun Chips.

Why? Because they got sustainable.

In April 2009, Sun Chips decided to add a Green approach to go along with their healthy image and introduced a 100% biodegradable bag. The bag was made out of plant materials and was the first of its kind for chips. Essentially, if you left an empty bag on the ground, it would start decomposing and giving its plant material back to the soil after some 13 weeks. No more chip bags littering picnic areas, or anywhere else for that matter.

Only one problem though: It was noisy.

Too noisy apparently.

The plant-based material sounded like something akin to a particularly loud piece of aluminum foil. Before, it was the chips that would make noise. Now, the chips were drowned out by the excessively crinkly bag. The simplest of movement would awaken the chorus of the bag. When measured in decibels, a shaken bag would register 100 decibels. To give some prospective, a lawn mower measures around 90 decibels. Subways measure 95 decibels. A chainsaw can measure at 110 decibels. In fact, if you were exposed to the sound of a shaking Sun Chips bag for 15 minutes straight, it is theoretically possible to start suffering hearing damage. For people that wanted to sneak around their chips, or eat them as a midnight snack, their plans would be thwarted by the bag.

Then there was the trouble of composting it. Consumer Reports tested the compost ability of the bag and discovered that after the claimed 13 weeks, their bag had “hardly changed.” Independent studies by one consumer found that their bag hadn’t fully decomposed after 26 weeks. Frito Lay refutes these claims by saying that the Biodegradable Products Institute certified the company’s claims.

After a year and half hearing consumer complaints, dealing with angry Facebook groups and a sales drop of 11%, Sun Chips decided to silence the bags, mostly. The original flavor of Sun Chips, which is their 2nd most popular flavor, kept its biodegradable nature. However, all the rest of the flavors went back to their original packaging.

The New Bag

Recently, Sun Chips has announced that it has created the “next-generation” of bag material by putting a rubbery adhesive in-between the bag layers, reducing the sound to 70 decibels, or the sound in the range of a normal conversation. The video on Sun Chip’s official website is certainly telling in the difference. The company plans to roll out the bags to the original flavor first, before hopefully expanding to their other flavors.

This is the story of Sun Chips so far, but their story also tells a tale of how far consumers are willing to go to protect their planet. Are consumers simply unwilling to put up with noise from their chip bags in order to have a better environment, or did Sun Chips simply make the bags unreasonably loud? Judging by the severe backlash against the chips, people were clearly against them simply for their sound. Forget the fact that the bags may not decompose in the time-span that the company claims; the chips were shunned for being too loud.

The effort by the nation to become environmentally-friendly has already been limited by a myriad of reasons, including price-difference, effort, convenience, and the simple fact that there’s seemingly no immediate danger. One would think that the last year’s oilspill would have initiated some sort of change, but the only discernible change seems to be BP’s status as a national punchline. The gas price fluctuations of the past decade have made headlines aplenty, but gas-guzzling vehicles will still be the dominant form of transportation for years to come despite recent advances in sustainable technology and the widespread sale of more environmentally-friendly vehicles.

The need for change is great.

A Scene From Wall-E

A study done by Science World in 2001 estimated that our landfills would be filled in 50 years, or around 2050. What does this statistic mean? Well, if you’ve ever seen the film “Wall-E,” then you’ll start to get an idea of the potential consequences at stake. In the film, a future Earth is so overrun with pollution and garbage that the remaining population abandons the planet in favor of leaving robots to clean and stack the garbage in tower-like piles. Not only does much of the garbage stick around for several years, but it creates massive amounts of methane gas, which is a leading cause of global warming.

Ultimately, human beings tend to like their planet and this is reflected in academic fields such as philosophy. Consequentialism, which looks at the consequences of actions, would be in favor of saving the environment since the consequences of having a non-destroyed planet are a good thing. Thomas Hobbes on the other hand would also agree with saving the planet, but would say that hurting the planet in the form of pollution is a self-serving act. Hobbes’ philosophy would therefore require the government to require you to consume environmentally-friendly chip bags since Hobbes believed that a leader was required to govern the more self-serving instincts of man. However, we live in a system based on the teachings of John Locke, who believed that we should have the freedom to choose, so you can choose whether to support the sustainable Sun Chips bag, or not.


A Burning Earth

Only time will tell whether these new bags will be as effective or more effective than the old bags, or even if consumers will support them. We have a choice, and our choices have an effect on our future. Ultimately, the questions and decisions brought up by this piece are probably only answerable by alien historians in the year 2050, but it is food for thought. If the world is in danger though, just know that you have the power to save it from utter annihilation.

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