Girl Scouts Refuse to Crumble
On Wednesday, the United Nations awarded 16-year-old Girl Scouts Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva the first ever International Forest Heroes Award for North America.
Five years ago, the two Girl Scouts raised concern over palm oil, an unsustainable cooking oil associated with rainforest deforestation, and an ingredient found in every Girl Scout cookie. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), also on the frontline in fighting deforestation, nominated Tomtishen and Vorva for the award to recognize their international success in raising awareness about the devastating consequences of palm oil production.
Through Project ORANG (Orangutans Really Appreciate and Need Girls Scouts), a grassroots campaign of their own making, the girls spread the word that palm-oil production destroys rainforests and orangutan habitat in Southeast Asia.
The award is only one of many accomplishments achieved by the girls thus far. Girl Scouts of the USA responded to their campaign and worked with Kellogg's, the cookies' producer, to use "sustainable" palm oil by 2015.
But don't sign off just yet Bruce, this cookie is not crumbling. Tomtishen and Vorva say Kellogg's and Girl Scouts of the USA are headed in the right direction, but caution that the "sustainable" certification has holes — the oil could still come from deforested areas. Through a Change.org petition, they're calling on the companies to make the cookies completely rainforest-safe. Over 58,000 people agree.
“We won’t stop until Girl Scout cookies are deforestation-free,” said Tomtishen. “We need the Girl Scouts of the USA to hear us and commit to making a better cookie.”
--Lauren Pope / photo courtesy of Sarah Roquemore