Reporting Kathryn Larson
ANN ARBOR (WWJ) - It’s Girl Scout cookie season, but two Ann Arbor girls believe there’s nothing sweet about the potential for Tagalongs, Thin Mints and Di-Si-Dos to contribute to the destruction of rainforests.
Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, both 16, have more than 40,000 signatures on a petition at change.org asking Girl Scouts USA to stop using palm oil, the production of which reportedly causes deforestation, endangers species, and contributes to human rights abuses and climate change.
“We are asking Girl Scouts and consumers to show their support for socially responsible and environmentally friendly Girl Scout cookies by signing our petition to the new CEO urging them to make cookies truly rainforest-safe,” Vorva and Tomtishen said in a press release.
“Girl Scouts USA has a responsibility to align their cookie ingredients with their mission ‘to make the world a better place.’”
The two girls first became concerned about palm oil five years ago after researching endangered orangutans for their Girl Scouts Bronze Award. After unsuccessfully raising their concerns about palm oil to Girl Scouts leadership, they partnered with two environmental groups, the Union of Concerned Scientists and Rainforest Action Network, to build awareness around the issue.
More than 70,000 people signed the girls’ previous Change.org campaign last year urging Girl Scouts’ former CEO to stop using palm oil.
In response to the campaign, Girl Scouts USA committed to its first-ever policy for palm oil, including buying Green Palm certificates to offset the ingredient’s use. With their new campaign, the girls have recruited more than 40,000 people in just one week to ask the Girl Scouts to completely eliminate palm oil from their cookies.
The girls told WWJ’s Kathryn Larson they don’t think the Girl Scouts have gone far enough.
“They’ve changed the box, but they haven’t changed the ingredients … It’s sort of deceiving,” one of the girls told Larson.
Madison and Rhiannon were recently nominated for a UN Forest Heroes award. Winners of this award will be announced on February 9.