Good news for haters of noisy chip-bags
So Sun Chips, the healthy Frito-Lays alternative to potato chips, was recently given a biodegradable plastic bag that you could throw out with your compost. Brilliant, right? I wish I had known about it before today though, yet this has only become news recently since the bag was bagged.
Why? Perhaps the costs of the new bag technology were not recovered? Or an industrial chemical leeching was into the chips or compost, you might think? No such luck: Sun Chips will again be packaged in resource-intensive, century-surviving garbage because consumers do not like how noisy the biodegradable bags were.
You can’t make this stuff up. Apparently the smart bags just rustle and crumple too much for snackers nationwide.
This is provoking an unsurprising rustle of outrage across the blogosphere, and Stephen Colbert chimed in with his own glorious sarcasm. Few though have written better on what it all means than Alexis Madrigal at The Atlantic:
And as this dawns on you… You think with the soaring, half-serious tone that we reserve for visions of collapse: This is what happens to a country that no longer dreams, that has lost it’s sense of national purpose or greatness. You think: Maybe we do need a space program, so that we start looking up again.
You imagine arch historians glossing the year: And in 2010, the most powerful country in the world was consumed with the show Glee, whether or not a political candidate was or had been a witch, and the sound of a bag of not-quite potato chips.
It’s a sharp article, but he ultimately misses the larger point: this whole episode is most succinct example of why countries like the US and Canada are not making meaningful headway on environmental problems. Plastic wrapping and packaging are incredible sinks of resources and energy, beginning with the oil, metals, and power required in production, to the immortality they attain when their short shelf lives are finished and they are left to rot (or, truth be told, not-rot) in garbage mountains or the great oceanic garbage patches.
There are a lot of angles to this story, angles that should redden the face of any member of the species. A compostable sack is brilliant; our binning of the concept , shameful. That it is being dropped because the bags are too noisy.. well, there is not much more to say. Humanity may be smart enough to invent Sun Chips and even biodegradable bags, but I’d trade in a whole lot of that ingenuity for just a little more foresight.