Girl power merit badge

Did you hear about the two 15-year-old Girl Scouts who have taken on an ecological battle that could mean some big changes? I love this story!

According to Grist, two Michigan Girl Scouts have managed to get Kellogg’s to stem their use of palm oils, which cause deforestation. Palm oil is used in many Kellogg’s products (as well as those of many other mega-corporate food conglomerates) in Keebler cookies, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies and, yes, even Girl Scout cookies.

It all started when Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtischen were researching orangutans for a Girl Scout Bronze Award.

[T]hey discovered that the main threat to the orangutans’ survival, as well as other endangered wildlife like Sumatran tigers, Sumatran rhinoceroses, and pygmy elephants, was the clearing and burning of Southeast Asia’s rainforests for palm oil, an additive in cookies, crackers, and cosmetics. So imagine their surprise when they found out that their beloved Girl Scouts were selling palm oil.

With this new-found information the girls set about urging Kellogg’s to stop using palm oil — or at the very least to stop the ingredient from being in the very cookies that Girl Scouts sell. They used Facebook and worked with the Union of Concerned Scientists to put the pressure on Kellogg’s. And two weeks ago Kellogg’s announced that they will now be using only “green palm oil.”

These certificates are supposed to provide funds to encourage the growth of so-called “sustainable” palm oil, cultivated on land that wasn’t deforested since 2005 (at least according to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) somewhat questionable metrics). Kellogg’s also announced that it intends to eventually directly purchase “sustainable” palm oil.

…Madison and Rhiannon have now partnered with the Rainforest Action Network and their thousands of activists. Together, they hope to change [PDF] not only Girl Scouts USA and Kellogg’s, but also bring attention to the really big players in the palm oil industry like Cargill that are financing destruction of rainforests and the orangutans, rhinos, tigers, and other wildlife that live in them.

This story makes me so happy on so many levels!

First of all, I was a Girl Scout for 8 years and I loved my experience with the program. I know it’s not a perfect program, but it gave me so many amazing tools and lessons that I have used throughout my life. I had a very poor home life as a kid and Girls Scouts and the environment of it was such a great place for me to be safe, happy and exploring the world.

And what about these awesome girls! It thrills me to hear about young women learning how to change the world. They are intelligent, adventurous and confident. Isn’t that what we all want for our girls? So awesome! Best of all, the work that these girls are doing is about making their community and the world a better place. How cool is that?

To get involved in helping the girls with their campaign, you can visit the Rainforest Action Network.


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