Two teens who pressured Girl Scouts of the USA to eliminate palm oil from the Scouts' cookies or to use sustainably grown palm oil are starting to see some results.
Girl Scouts of the USA on Wednesday said it was pledging to work with its bakers and other industry leaders to switch to sustainable palm oil by 2015, if supplies are available. The organization has also directed its bakers to use as little palm oil as possible in its Thin Mints, Trefoils and Samoas.
Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, Girl Scouts from Michigan, had learned that palm oil production leads to deforestation and the disappearance of orangutan habitat and embarked on a five-year effort to make Girl Scout cookies more environmentally friendly. They were the subject of a page-one article in The Wall Street Journal in May.
"It's definitely a step in the right direction, however, the steps don't go far enough. It doesn't ensure that the cookies will be completely deforestation-free and environmentally friendly," says Rhiannon, 15 years old.
When the girls discovered that palm oil is present in the cookies they sell, they rallied troops across the country, called for meetings with Girl Scouts leaders and criticized their nonprofit organization on Facebook and Twitter.
"For the orangutans, there's no time to waste. But they have made commitments, finally, and we are so happy to see that," say Madison, 16.
"Madison and Rhiannon have done exactly what Girl Scouts teaches girls: find a cause you care about, connect with others, and take action to change the world," Amanda Hamaker, the Girl Scouts' manager of product sales said in a statement. "They are shining examples of leadership in persuading a 99-year-old American icon to take on a serious global issue."