August 19, 2010, - 3:56 pm

“Green” Hurts: Compostable Sun Chips Bags Kill Your Ears

By Debbie Schlussel

Not only is it not easy being an environmental wacko, it’s sometimes harmful to your health.

Frito-Lay brags that its 100% compostable bags for its Sun Chips snacks are green and good for the environment.  Problem is, they’re not exactly good for your hearing. I don’t eat Sun Chips (or any chips), but . . .

OWWWWW! – Worse than scratching on a chalkboard . . .

You see, in order to make the Sun Chips bags 100% fully decomposed within 14 weeks, they had to use technology that makes the bags sound like loud breaking glass.  It’s been the subject of a number of YouTube videos from Sun Chips eaters, including a very smart Air Force pilot who measured the sound.  It’s deafening.  Some of the videos are below.

Frito-Lay makes a lot of noise marketing its Sun Chips snacks as “green.” They are cooked with steam from solar energy, the message goes.

But its latest effort—making the bags out of biodegradable plant material instead of plastic—is creating a different kind of racket. Chip eaters are griping about the loud crackling sounds the new bag makes. Some have compared it to a “revving motorcycle” and “glass breaking.”

It is louder than “the cockpit of my jet,” said J. Scot Heathman, an Air Force pilot, in a video probing the issue that he posted on his blog under the headline “Potato Chip Technology That Destroys Your Hearing.” Mr. Heathman tested the loudness using a RadioShack sound meter. He squeezed the bag and recorded a 95 decibel level. A bag of Tostitos Scoops chips (another Frito-Lay brand, in bags made from plastic) measured 77.

Clifford A. Wood, a 69-year-old in Tempe, Ariz., posted a warning on a Google chat page for people who work in theaters, cautioning: “Please NEVER sell Sun Chips in these bags at your venue.”

A Facebook group called “SORRY BUT I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THIS SUN CHIPS BAG” has attracted 29,949 fans, with many posting outraged comments. It’s “the worst when your stoned at 2am and trying to not wake up the house,” one person said.

Hilarious. But not as hilarious as the former (or maybe not-so-former) stoners who tell us we have to be “green” but have no prob with loud and obnoxiously deafening chips bags. More:

Tell that to Mackenzie Kuhn’s fourth-grade teacher. At Ladd Elementary in Fairbanks, Alaska, 12-year-old Mackenzie brought some Sun Chips to a party to mark the end of the school year. When she opened the bag, everyone looked her way, she says.

“Please try to open your bag quieter, Mackenzie,” she said her teacher replied.

I think that teacher needs to be fired. Isn’t, “Please try to open your bag more quietly,” the grammatically correct way to say that?

Building a more earth-friendly snack bag was no piece of cake, the company says. The material would need to be able to be printed on while also achieving “barrier performance,” says Frito-Lay, which means keeping chips from getting soggy, in lay terms.

The company settled on a plant-based material, polylactic acid, which fully decomposes in about 14 weeks when placed in a hot, active compost pile.

Here are some more videos from Sun Chips users, dismayed by the ridiculous loudness you must endure to eat their “green” product . . .

F-word alert in this one (and the guy can’t pronounce “compostable”) . . .

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10 Responses

Great! I’m gonna buy some and sneak them into “Eat Pray, Love” at the movies and activate them every time Julia Roberts speaks. Ditto for films with Susan Sarandon (who named her son after a non repentant murderer).

Not Ovenready on August 19, 2010 at 5:01 pm

Oven, your post is LOL!!!

Gosh, I bought a bag at Costco and couldn’t believe the noise. Never bought them again. Stupid greenies.

Skunky on August 19, 2010 at 5:07 pm

I don’t have to worry. I am already deaf and I can’t even hear the roar of a jet engine. Silence in this sense is grand for me.

Thanks, Frito-Lay! :)

NormanF on August 19, 2010 at 5:47 pm

How bout 1000 people opening the bags simultaneously.

CaliforniaScreaming on August 19, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Great idea and great technology. This isn’t cap and trade or global warming and consumers are supporting the technology themselves with purchases.

Nothing wrong with wanting less non-biodegradable packages floating around our oceans.

100 proof American on August 19, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Are you serious? I have very acute hearing and I don’t see a problem. It’s not the nicest sound but ear-splitting. I think y’all need to have a nice tall drink of something “relaxing” to go with those chips. Y’all are wound WAAAAAAAAy too tight.

mk750 on August 20, 2010 at 10:19 am

I completely agree! We occasionally have chips but it’s hard to snack on those because my boys will hear it, swoop in like a couple of 3-D piranhas, and devour the rest.
The first time we got it, the volume was actually really startling. So I found myself opening the damn bag like it was a game of “Operation.” “Take out wrenched chip…..ha. Ha. Ha.”

Sean M on August 20, 2010 at 11:14 am

I’m curious: If these bags will decompose in 14 weeks, how long can they really keep the product fresh? How does the BAG know it’s in a compost pile and it’s time to decompose? Wouldn’t it start to decompose if kept in a hot place (like a car) for a period of time? I’m not an idiot, this just doesn’t make sense to me. Of course, the whole Global Warming, we’re all gonna die because of carbon dioxide thing never made sense to me either. Or the hole in the ozone layer that is now miraculously gone…

DG in GA on August 20, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    The bag will only start decomposing at a high temperature like if it was left in the sunlight.

    CO on August 21, 2010 at 5:25 pm

What is wrong with you? Why are you so unhappy about everything?

Nina on August 20, 2010 at 4:44 pm

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