Tuesday, August 24, 2010

That Darned Sunchips Bag

I'm going out on a limb here and attacking a company's claim. Will I get into hot water? Maybe I hope so. I do not work for the Sunchips company or any company that is in any way involved with Sunchips. I have not been paid by any company to make disparaging remarks about this brand. This stems from my own curiosity and the fear that we are being "taken" by this company's claim.

I was recently reading through someone's blog and it led me to Kathy's blog at The Junk Drawer and she mentioned she might be a little upset that the new Sunchips bag is so, shall we say, NOISY??? She does a fantastic post about the noise, including a video of how effing loud it is in case you haven't experienced them this summer. She was lucky enough to have it picked up by someone big interviewed her at the Wall Street Journal. It seems many people share the distress that you can no longer sneak a snack of Sunchips. (doesn't that sound like some kind of rhyme you learned as a kid: sneak a snack of Sunchips... it has a nice flow so if the Sunchip gods are reading, I am happy to sign over all rights for a hefty fee.)

Anychip, my issue with the new Sunchips bag isn't the noise as much as their claim. (I know, anyone who knows me knows that there is not a noise that can possibly NOT bother me, so that is a big fat lie but really, the claim takes precedence here). On Earth Day back in April, they rolled out their new bag, which they claim is compostable. If you read their claim on their site, they say that in 14 weeks, it will break down. Magic. In 14 weeks, that bag will be long gone. If you read the fine print, it does say in a hot, active compost pile or bin. It says this on the bag too. Magic, I tell you, pure magic.

I might be a bit of a skeptic, or maybe I really WANT this new packaging to really degrade but I just had to try this myself. I have been composting for several decades and though I am no expert, I do quite well. I break some rules, like I never turn it over, but I do give it a variety of materials and when I dig in, JACKPOT, I have some darned good stuff in there.

I thought perhaps the average person doesn't have a compost pile, so they might not be able to compost. Or maybe they threw the bag on the side of the road and now it's just blowing around. So, to mimic the lack of a compost pile, I began my great experiment. I just wanted to know if the bag would crumble down like they said. Since it wasn't going to be in compost heap, I knew it would take a little while. I just needed to know for myself if their claims were real. So here's what I have:May 2nd, 2010. I placed the bag on the ground and anchored it down with a weight so I could find it. I didn't put any soil on it and figured nature would take its course. I waited. And waited. And then I read Kathy's post, so I went and looked at it again. And this is what I found:This was today, day 114. There are 98 days in 14 weeks. That means I have gone 24 days, that's 3.5 weeks, beyond their claim. I see it's faded a little. There are a few tears. But when I picked it up, it was pretty much intact. We've had sopping rain for 2 days yet under this bag the ground was completely dry, so it's not yet permeable. Hmmm. I expected a slow breakdown since it's not in the compost pile. But this gives me great pause.

I am nothing if not thorough, so you know this bag will sit until the end of time if it has to for me to prove my point. But what does this mean? Are the Sunchips people going to blow me off and say that I didn't do it right? Probably. Their claim says nothing about putting it on the ground and just waiting. But I just have to know if it will really break down. I think I've had plastic break down faster than this (ever had one of those resin patio chairs and the back just breaks off??)

So here is your charge. Go buy some Sunchips and try this yourself. Wear some earplugs, open them up and eat them all. Then go compost. If you have devised a way to put it in your compost and actually track it, let me know. Is it gone in 14 weeks? I'll be awaiting your response and so will Kathy!!

The irony in all of this is that I don't really even like Sunchips. I just NEED TO KNOW.


  1. Oh, man. I'm so excited you're doing this! I forgot to ask a guy at work who composts if he'll throw a bag in his heap, but I swear I will.

    (Side note: I wasn't interviewed by Jon Stewert, only the Wall Street Journal. I thought I wanted to and requested it, but no one bit, which is good because now I don't want to do it even if they call because I'd be scared to death!)

    I'll let you know how the other compost pile goes.

    Stay tuned.......

  2. Ha! That sounds like a good science project.

  3. Sorry Kathy, I got excited about all the name dropping. I removed Jon Stewart's name. My doorstep can only handle so many furious people so when they all come to me because I am saying mean things about Sunchips, I won't have to worry about him coming too!

  4. Oh my GAWD! Now I HAVE to know too. I'll be watching for updates. Squee! :-D

    That is too funny about the LOUD bag. LOL about your earplugs comment.

  5. I'm afraid I'll be out there scraping snow off the damned thing so I can take a picture when it hasn't fully composted by Christmas!

  6. I'll do it. (I live in Florida, so the weather is always compostable.)
    But you need to eat the chips. They will NOT degrade off my hips in that timeframe..

  7. Sprite's Keeper, I am certain if you apply a little heat to those hips (like 130 degrees) it will compost right off!

  8. I am cracking up over this post. And, I love the fact that you have taken on this project...which would be a great science project by the way...what will degrade faster..Styrofoam, a sun chips bag or a wad of gum.

  9. Once a teacher, always a teacher. This is the kind of stuff I always wanted to do as a kid and my mother wouldn't let me.


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