It turns out the biggest debate over Girl Scout cookies isn't whether to stock up on Samoas or Thin Mints. Instead, it's over the use of palm oil in their coveted cookies.
Save The Orangutans
Palm oil plantations in Indonesia clear-cut portions of the rainforest and lead to serious destabilization of the ecosystem.
Two scouts, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, began a massive letter-writing campaign earlier this year to the Girl Scouts head office, saying they were worried about orangutan habitats in the areas where the plantations were located.
What's In A Name
Girl Scouts USA belongs to the "Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil." Other members include PepsiCo, IKEA and Wal-Mart.
Some critics claim the organization has a beneficial-sounding name but doesn't work much toward sustainability; the only condition for membership is making a $2000 annual contribution to the organization.
While the roundtable does certify some palm oil as "sustainable," it doesn't require its members to purchase it.
Cookie Lovers Speak Out
When criticism of the palm oil practices began to pop up on the Girl Scouts USA Facebook page in early May, the company just deleted the comments.
Since then, the backlash has gotten even worse. Close to 66,000 have signed a petition on Change.org calling for rainforest-safe cookies. Even the granddaughter of the inventor of the cookies said in a column on the Huffington Post that her grandmother would be "ashamed of the destruction her inventiveness is causing in the lives of those powerless to stop it."
A company representative told the Wall Street Journal that Girl Scouts USA is looking for alternative ingredients. Possible changes have yet to be announced.
- Girl Scouts censor Facebook criticism of palm oil in cookies (Grist)
- Girl Scouts meet leader over palm oil in cookies (Wall Street Journal)
- Why The Inventor of Girl Scout Cookies Would Be Ashamed Today (Huffington Post)
- Make Girl Scout Cookies Rainforest-Safe (Change.org)