The Girl Scouts have been packaging their cookies in familiar boxes for decades now. The pictures on the boxes have changed over the years, but the look of the boxes is so closely aligned with the cookies themselves that most consumers can recognize a green Thin Mint box or a purple Samoas box from a block away when approaching a table of Scouts. Those boxes, with trays inside to protect the cookies, are made from materials that can be recycled after you eat the cookies within, but they still represent a lot of excess packaging for a handful of cookies.
This year, the Girl Scouts are rethinking their packaging and giving a big test run to a more eco-friendly design. The packaging is used on the Lemonades, Thanks-A-Lot and Cranberry Citrus Crisps (a new, whole-grain offering) produced by ABC Bakers and it replaces the traditional paper box with a thin, film overwrap. The wrap sort of mimics the shape of a box and is printed with the same bright colors. The cookies inside are still packed in trays to keep them neatly arranged and to ensure that they look picture perfect when you pull them out to eat them. This streamlined packaging saves over 150 tons of paperboard, which would ordinarily be used to make boxes, and allows more cookies to fit on a truck, which actually saves over 2,500 gallons of diesel fuel a year. This type of packaging was first tested in 2010 and the positive response it received is the biggest reason that they’re expanding it.
It is also worth noting that the new gluten free cookie variety comes in a completely different type of packaging, a resealable stand-up pouch. This design is a space saver, but is more of a departure from the traditional look of Girl Scout cookies than the film overwrap packaging. Of course, if you want to eliminate the packaging all together, you can always bake your own Homemade Girl Scout Cookies with one of my recipes and support your local troops with donations instead of just buying cookies.