Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day and Whatever happened to that Sunchips bag in my compost pile?

Last year on Earth Day, I posted about my compostable Sunchips bag experiment. I'm sure most of you heard that Sunchips invented the world's first 100% compostable chip bag in 2010. I put the bag to the test in my backyard compost pile on Earth Day last year {April 17, 2010} and guess what? It worked!

According to Sunchips, the bag is fully composted in a municipal compost bin in as little as 14 weeks. In my little backyard compost pile, the bag has been decomposing for a full year now {52 weeks} and while there is still some small identifiable remnants of the Sunchips bag, it's almost gone! Keep in mind that I put the bag into my compost pile whole. If I had cut or torn the bag into pieces on the first day, it would likely be full composted by now. But I let nature do all the work on this one. Another reason why the bag is taking a long time to decompose in my backyard pile is largely due to the fact that my backyard compost pile is sometimes too small-- even smaller than the recommended minimum size for an active pile. That means that it's often not hot enough to be actively composting. The process slows down dramatically when the pile is too small.  Large scale municipal compost setups are much more productive.

Here are some photos documenting the decomposition of the Sunchips bag in my backyard compost pile:

Day 1 
April 22, 2010

Day 27
May 19, 2010

Day 41
June 2, 2010

Day 60
June 21, 2010

Day 71
July 2, 2010

Autumn came along and I dumped a whole lot of fallen leaves onto the compost pile....

Day 175
October 14, 2010

Then winter came along and Mother Nature dumped a whole lot of snow on me. And dumped and dumped and dumped... making it enough of a chore to trek through all that snow to dump my under-the-kitchen-sink compost bucket out there without having to carry my camera, too! So no winter compost pile photos. 

Then the snow melted and spring ever so slowly came along. Still working on that, actually. And voilá! My compostable Sunchips bag {nearly} one year later:

Day 360
April 17, 2011

I had to dig through the pile to look for those pieces of the bag still lingering. Perhaps another six months it will be completely gone.

All the while my chip bag was decomposing in my backyard, the scientists at Sunchips were busy redesigning their compostable chip bag to be quieter. Do you remember how noisy it was? Well, now you can cheat on your diet again without everyone in the house knowing. ;)

If you have even a small parcel of land to claim as yours where you live, why not start a compost pile? It's so easy and actually really fun to take all the dried leaves that fall in your yard and the fruit and vegetable scraps from your kitchen, pile it up in a corner, mix it up now and then and watch it turn into nutrient rich compost for your garden. Composting reduces the volume of trash in landfills and essentially provides you with free fertilizer for your yard that the earthworms and other micro-organisms are more than happy to make for you. Spread finished compost in your vegetable and flower beds, around shrubs and trees and even sprinkle it in your lawn.

The world's perfect fertilizer... the way Nature intended.

For more information on home composting:

For more information on Sunchips' --quieter-- compostable chip bag:

Happy Earth Day.  :)


  1. We have a small one the size of a paint bucket in our backyard!

  2. This is SO cool! Now I want some Sunchips!

  3. We're going to do a compost pile when we move into another house. Which is about when we're going to do another garden.

  4. You know, I had wondered :-)

    Last summer I put a sun chips bag in my compost pile, too. But my pile is in the shade a good bit of the day and broke down very slowly. When I was turning it one day this spring, I couldn't see any remnants, so I suppose it finally gave up the ghost during the winter.

    There's a new salad place near us the serves to-go salads in compostable plastic bowls. I brought one home and put it out there a couple of weeks ago to see what would happen. Looks like that one will take a while, too.

  5. Okay, seriously, anyone that can follow up on one bag for a year, I must follow. I'm very impressed with your project.


  6. I'd wondered what had happened with the bag. Thanks for the update and all the links for composting. I'm considering a compost pile now that we have a large enough yard. We are right by the woods though so I've been throwing my fruit scraps into the woods.

  7. Okay, nevermind. I'm already following you but I'm still highly impressed by your attention to follow-up. Peace.

  8. Happy Earth Day! (one day after, lol). I love that you followed up on the progress of that bag! It's good to know that it works. Love your compost pile, although I wouldn't know what to do with one. *g*

  9. Very nice! I love that you documented this over the course of the year....

  10. Happy Earth day a day late! I love that Lowe's is giving away a free tree to a million people today!
    I would like to compost, but the hubs is leary. I'm wearing him down, though. *G* RIght now I'm trying to find an affordable rain barrel. Why do those things cost over $200?

  11. Michelle, LOL! If you make it a bit bigger, I guarantee you it will be loaded with earthworms in a matter of a week or two. Your little tike would LOVE that. ;)

    Carolyn, there's a new flavor out now.. Jalapeno Jack. I haven't tried it yet, but there is a bag in the pantry....

    Lisa, great idea! You're kids are going to love composting and gardening.

    Phyl, that is so cool that your Sunchips bag fully decomposed already! Your pile must be a bit bigger than mine. I run out of brown in the spring and summer because we have SO MANY leaves in our yard in the fall that I put too much of them at the curb for the town to pick up... then I don't have enough for my compost pile come spring and summer, so the pile slows down too much. Next fall I'm going to compost ALL of the leaves in my yard.

    Good luck with the compostable plastic bowls! That should be interesting.

    p.s. I bought "your" anthology last week. Can't wait to read it. ;)

    BookBelle, LOL! Thank you!! :)

    Christina, LOVE your profile pic. I cannot believe how big the triplets are now! And of course your girl is as adorable as ever.

    I have a friend who lives surrounded by woods as she does the same thing as you. That's composting, too! Plus the little woodland creatures have a chance at an extra meal, too. ;)

    Hils, Happy Earth Day to you too! :)

    Julie, Thanks. It was fun. I originally hoped to do a little stop motion video on the process, but I didn't take enough photos.

    Brandy, Happy Earth Day to you, too! It just so happens I am going to Lowe's this afternoon! Although I already have a lot of trees and a lot of shade in my yard, so I'm not sure I want to plant another tree right now. I could be convinced if it were a fruit or pretty spring flowering tree, though. But I doubt that's what they're giving away.

    I love those rain barrels, too! Would you consider making your own? I think I've seen instructions online.

    Happy Easter to you, too! xo

  12. This is so cool!

    I had just been thinking about learning to start composting these days, I kid you not! :D

    Now I'm even more motivated...and craving some yummy sunchips. Thanks!

  13. That is very cool, Christine! I was wondering what was happening with it! Well glad to know that at least there's one company out there not lying :)

  14. Happy Earth Day! I have three compost bins, mostly for grass clippings but also for fruit and vegetable scraps. They make lovely, worm-filled compost :)

  15. What a cool experiment! I live in the city and I really don't have any outdoor space of my own but someday when I do have a yard, I definitely want to compost.

  16. I repeat what everyone said. WOW. This is neat, Christine! And so nice of you to follow-up on it with pictures too! Too bad I don't eat chips or I would try it myself. Lol.

  17. Thanks, little_alys! Composting never tasted so good! I mean... you gotta eat the chips first, right? ;)

    nath, SO TRUE!

    orannia, WOW! A three bin composting girl! I'm so impressed. Aren't those worms amazing? I love them.

    Meg, city living is definitely not conducive to backyard composting. I've heard of people having worm bins under their kitchen sinks in the city, but I don't know about that .... LOL

    T-t-t-t-tabs! <--love that!
    No chips?! What a concept! LOL!

  18. Hey! Sorry I haven't been around in a LONG time! I've been swamped with school work at the end of the semester but it's officially my summer now and I'm getting to try to catch up with all my friends blogs! I love this composting idea. I know a couple people who do it so I'll have to check it out sometime. Love the walk through with your organic sun chips bag and how it's really degrading in the compost! :-D


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