Monday, November 1, 2010

Sustainable Products Require Certain Adjustments

The original title of this post was 'Sustainable Products Require Certain Sacrifices,' but I decided to change 'Sacrifices' to 'Adjustments' because people generally hate the concept of sacrificing comfort. I also changed the title because what I am going to be talking about in this article should never be viewed as an earth-shattering sacrifice.

Recently, SunChips decided to discontinue their compostable bag in the United States due to "consumer pressure."  By consumer pressure, of course I mean a facebook page - what else could I mean?  In a world where a movie about a website is being considered for an Academy Award, I wouldn't expect anything less from web-based petition movements that are most likely started by some stoned-coed.

At least Canada still seems to be sane by releasing a public service announcement talking about why the bags may be noisier than their petroleum-based counterparts.

I like to believe that market-based forces are the best solution for many of our environmental problems, but this is a fantastic example of how the market can be resoundingly backwards.  I have a hard time believing that SunChips was spiraling into the red because their bags were noisy - the more likely reason is that SunChips (PepsiCo.) was just worried about negative press.

They should have realized by now that America has a relatively short attention span when it comes to these types of stories and they should have stuck it out in the pursuit of doing the right thing while also setting an example for other companies.

As our population continues to grow so will our levels of consumption - which ultimately increases our amount of waste.  It is unlikely that we are going to reduce our intake over night, so the more logical move is to move to more sustainable products that have a minimal impact on the environment - such as these chip bags.

Yes, there will be tradeoffs and adjustments when using these products, but if noise level is our biggest concern when using these products then people need to just deal with it.


  1. This is ridiculous, it makes me angry...what's next? Cloth bags so that we have zero noise?

  2. Clearly noise pollution is more of an issue than a floating patch of garbage in the ocean:

    The tragedy of this whole chips bag thing is that 90% of people will never hear about it.

  3. I agree with everything you said, but I do believe that it is up to the companies to make sure that the transition to cleaner products is seamless for consumers which is why this experiment with biodegradable bags probably failed.

  4. Anonymous...what a boring name - at least get creative with it.

    As for what you said, I do believe that the transition should be seamless, but I do believe that SunChips didn't fail in this respect - it isn't like they reinvented the concept of a bag, just a different material that has a side effect of being a little noisy.

    SunChips failed by not sticking to their business plan. If companies changed their products every time a small base of consumers freaked out about a tiny change, there would never be any progress.

    Just think of Facebook. They have changed their format regularly with a consistent level of initial outrage from users, however they have rarely deviated from their vision and as a result have constructed one of the most popular products today.