This post is by Girl Scouts Madison Vorva (age 16) and Rhiannon Tomtishen (age 15), who have been campaigning to get palm oil out of Girl Scout Cookies for the past few years.
Five years ago, while doing research for our Girl Scout Bronze Award, we learned that the cultivation of palm oil and palm kernel oil results in deforestation in Indonesia as well as orangutan extinction and human rights abuses. We were shocked to find that palm oil was, and continues to be, an ingredient in Girl Scout Cookies. We were both eleven years old at the time, and had enjoyed selling cookies for years as a fundraiser for Girl Scouts USA (GSUSA).
In 2007, we began our own grassroots campaign to convince GSUSA to remove palm oil from Girl Scout Cookies. We wrote letters, designed a petition (which has since been signed by Dr. Jane Goodall), created a website and organized with other scouts for years. But the organization that had played such a huge role in teaching us leadership and environmental stewardship gave us very little response. After working with environmental organizations like Rainforest Action Network, top decision makers at GSUSA finally agreed to meet with us.
As a result of the meeting, GSUSA has committed to working with us to find a solution to the palm oil in Girl Scout cookies that does not harm people, animals, or the environment. Unfortunately, the organization has not yet made any concrete decisions regarding this pressing problem. That’s why we need your support more than ever right now!
We’re encouraging all Girl Scouts to earn one of our limited edition “Rainforest Hero Badges” to help us show Girl Scouts USA that Girl Scouts all across the country will not settle for cookies that contribute to human rights abuses, deforestation and orangutan extinction.
Girl Scouts of all ages across the country have completed the community outreach actions to earn their badge and have had a great time doing it. There are still 200 limited-edition Rainforest Hero Badges to give scouts who download the Rainforest Hero Badge Toolkit and follow the instructions inside.
Scout Tianna Couch from Port Jefferson, NY was nervous to take on the Rainforest Hero Badge project because she feared her fellow troop members wouldn’t be interested in learning about rainforest destruction caused by palm oil. However, she was thrilled at the outcome — all of the girls in her troop cared deeply cared about the issue and were extremely supportive. They were eager to learn as much as they could about the issue.
When hundreds of Girl Scouts from all over the country earn this badge, it will demonstrate to GSUSA how important this issue is to the girls who make up the organization and that we want to show our concern in a positive way.
Girl Scouts USA is an incredible organization that builds girls of “courage, confidence and character, who make the world a better place.” As Girl Scouts, we’re doing our best to live by that example. We’re asking GSUSA to live by its own mission statement, and ensure that its cookies are environmentally and socially responsible.
We want to thank everyone for all the support you’ve given this campaign and everything you’ve done to save the lives of orangutans and their rainforest home.
-Madi and Rhiannon