The Heap
The Crinkle Heard Round the (Snack) World

The Crinkle Heard Round the (Snack) World

sunchips.jpg Frito-Lay launched the compostable SunChips bag in early 2009 with the best of intentions. Wagering that SunChip lovers were also green consumers, the environmentally-friendly packaging was seemingly a win-win. But two problems -- one practical, one aesthetic -- quickly became apparent: 1) Assuming the bag avoided the trashcan, it was only compostable in industrial composting operations, not in home compost piles; and 2) The slightest movement of the bag caused it to crackle like someone lighting off a string of Black Cats.

Customers complained. Facebook campaigns were mounted. And now the compostable bag has largely (some bags of regular flavor SunChips will continue to be compostable) been consigned to the dustbin of history (where it likely won't break down for quite some time). Over at the Huffington Post, Environmental Defense Fund's Gwen Ruta provides some nice perspective on the move. And the New York Times Green blog gets extra credit for coining the term "Snacklash".

The difficulty of composting this compostable bag certainly didn't help it. But it is troubling to me that the thing that actually killed it was the public's unwillingness to be mildly inconvenienced by a slightly irritating noise in service of a more sustainable way of doing things. In the end, the sanctity of snack time serenity won out over environmental concern. That sets the bar awfully low, folks.