Dear Girl Guides of Canada,
Hello, my name is Anya and I am a Girl Guide in Canmore, Alberta. I have recently been selling the fall Girl Guides Cookies, and I really like the new design on the boxes. I think you just need to change one thing. I think there is way too much packaging that isn’t necessary. The cookies come in a plastic container that is wrapped in plastic wrap, and enclosed in a cardboard box. That means only two of the three layers of customer packaging can be recycled. Plastic is made from oil, therefore it is not sustainable, because oil is a non-renewable substance. I think Girl Guides of Canada should take a lead on not wasting renewable substances and protecting the environment. By using sustainable substances in the cookies wrappers, you will be on our first steps to being an Eco-friendly organization. I think you should remove the two plastic wrappers, and have a paper bag in the box, or you could change the packaging completely, and stack the cookies in a recyclable tube that will be easy to ship and still as easy to handle as they are in the current packaging. This way the cookies will be more appealing to Eco-friendly customers, they will cost less to produce, and will be cheaper for Girl Guides, so more money would go to the Girl Guides of Canada program, to be used for camp and other reasons that would help the organization.
On your website you say, “Girl Members will contribute to a better world by providing service, by speaking out, and by taking action on issues that are important to them”. This issue is important to me because I would like Girl Guides of Canada to be not only friendly to us, but to be friendly to the environment. Our environment is very important to me because the Bow Valley is a wildlife corridor right next to Banff National Park.
Would it be possible to start a campaign on the GGC website, Facebook, twitter and blog for Eco-friendly cookie packaging? I was thinking because people might think the same as I do, and may be concerned about the cookie packaging not being Eco-friendly. I was wondering if I could write a blog post on this subject for GirlGuidesCANBlog?
If you have questions, or answers please reply.
December 17, 2012
Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns about the Girl Guide cookie packaging. We understand your position and would like to take this opportunity to describe to you what we have done to be environmentally conscious while still providing the food safety that is required:
1. The fibreboard used to make the cookie box is made from 100% recycled product.
2. The inks used to print the box are water based.
3. The shipping carton is also made with 100% recycled cardboard.
4. The plastic tray is fully recyclable in most municipalities.
You are correct in pointing out that the plastic film used to wrap the cookies is currently not recyclable in most locations, but this is changing.
Let me explain why the packaging of the cookies is done in the way it is:
1. We can use fully recycled cardboard because it is strong enough to protect the cookies and it doesn’t have direct contact with the food.
2. The plastic tray is used to keep the cookies from being broken while they are being shipped across Canada. We live in a very big country and cookies have to travel a long way to get to our Units and then onto our consumers. Without the tray the cookies would get broken and would not be desirable to purchase.
3. The plastic wrap is used to prevent air from coming in contact with the cookies and making them stale. We cannot use paper as it is not airtight. Other wraps are available, like waxed paper and metal foil, but they have a greater impact on the environment than the thin plastic film we use. Without the inside wrap the cookies would be stale in days.
Your suggestions about changing the packaging completely is intriguing, but very difficult to implement. There are no other currently available packaging formats that would more environmentally friendly.
We would welcome a blog post from you on this issue or any other Girl Guide topic.
Thank you for your inquiry,
Girl Guides of Canada -Guides du Canada
LOVE this post, and the response as well. Just one small comment about the plastic wrap. Cellulose is a product that comparable to plastic and made from plant based sources which makes it compostable. I am not entirely sure if it can be applied in cookie packaging, but perhaps this is something that could be looked at as well. With kind regards from a tree-hugging Mom and endless fundraiser! Joyce
I am one of Anya’s Guide leaders and I applaud her insightful and interesting ideas (well written too!) Here in the Bow Valley, we have a strong environmental focus because we know we are the first line caregivers of some of the most beautiful and treasured areas of Canadian wilderness that are accessible to Canadians – the Banff, Kootenay, and Yoho National Parks. I have seen the strides that Girl Guides of Canada has made to become more environmentally conscious over the years (may I take a moment to say THANKS for forms that can be submitted online!) and I look forward to the innovations we will achieve with strong young women like Anya in our organization.
I love love love her idea of cookies in a tube. Sort of like pringles. As it is, I have stopped eating the cookies because they make me sick (thanks to a gluten intolerance). Maybe we can look at offsetting the carbon footprint of the cookies (although I think we do *a ton* of carbon offsetting by default, hello minimally invasive camping!)
I love when girls speak up and take action for a better world! We all strive as leaders to embed such ambition and drive in our girls. Great work Anya on standing up for what you think is right, and reaching out to make your voice heard. Never lose that ambition! YOU GO GIRL!
Wonderful idea, Anya, I like it. Hope National will take this on.
Anya I think you have a very good idea. I will support you for a more Eco friendly packaging.
I agree with you on the packaging! My name is Katie Timmermans, 8 yrs in guiding past one and continuing on as a leader. The only thing about bagged cookies is the breaking factor. I as a mother of two young girls truely appreciate seeing such a strong movement by another young ladie, YOU. I am so proud of you!
West Kelowna, BC
3rd Nataka Brownies
I usually am aware of packaging and avoid things that are overpackaged whenever possible. As an old Brown Owl, I think it’s good to put pressure on companies to move toward greener practices. However, this is Girl Guide Cookies we’re talking about. I’ll buy them whatever they’re packaged in. I’m sure that as soon as better options are developed, Girl Guides will be right there.
Way to speak up, Anya! Keep up the efforts, questioning the world, and writing!
I also look the LOOK of the new cookie boxes, but have one complaint from a few CUSTOMERS from our past campaign. While we sell in public for our group sales, we set up the boxes in an attractive pyramid. I’ve seen many other units do this as well. The image on the box is sideways when they are set up, because they cannot be stacked vertically or they are wayyyy too wobbly! Thus, customers cannot see clearly what we’re selling because everything is sideways, except what the girls are holding in their hands. Just my two cents. 😀
I happen to know Anya and I can tell you that she is a force to be reckoned with! I’m not the least bit surprised that she’s taken action for a better world. And although new packaging would be difficult to implement, that is not the same thing as impossible. Perhaps Girl Guides of Canada needs to take action as an organization and lead the way. Way to go Anya!!
This is amazing that a guide has brought this up. Funny enough the ladies in my neighbour hood vrought this up but i thought “What can I do??”. Some times it takes others to come forward. Thank you for taking the initiative. I hope to see changes in the next few years. The cost of the cookies has gone up the last few years and the people assume it is because of the packaging???
You seem like an amazing young women. Perhaps you could think of some ways that the film from Girl Guide cookie packages could be re-purposed after opening the box? There must be a way to turn them into something useful, or at least into a beautiful craft.
I love love love this idea! Especially the tube idea. Imagine this! You could fit more tubes into a case and since there would be less packaging we could sell them cheaper and get this part !!!!! PEOPLE may actually purchase them again!
When I see our young members stand up about these issues they are right to do so. I do have to Agree when food safety is at hand these measure need to be met first. When I buy other food in stores some companies do have a recycled waxed paper that still keep crackers fresh. With an expiry date for our cookies. We should be fine. Pending when cookies leave the cookie line. What is the time wait time of our cookies before we receive them to sell. The thin plastic may be needed for fresh product. Either way Girl Guides keep up the good work.