Today, a coworker said, “I wish we had the Girls Scouts.” Well, I don’t. I was a Brownie, then a Girl Scout briefly. Sure there are benefits to young girls gathering into a tribe-like group, earning merit badges and selling cookies; however, I’m glad my daughter doesn’t feel the pressures of wearing a uniform to school, getting the most badges, selling the most cookies.
It’s springtime, and the cookies are out! Last time, I went to town, girls were pushing their cookies as I walked into stores. Thin mints, carmel deLites, you name it. I felt bad as I ignored the young ladies controlling myself from going into a tirade about how unhealthy their cookies, how much money they really earn for their local group, and oh, did I mention THE RAINFOREST!
Two years ago, Jessica Gottlieb wrote for us “Springtime: Where I Crush the Souls of Girls Scouts“:
According to the National Action Against Obesity the girl scouts who peddle cookies each spring get 40 to 60 cents from each box sold. Roughly ten percent of each sale. Ask any mother whose living room has been taken over by boxes of cookies, any father who’s had to drag their daughter into work with a cookie order form, if that’s worth it. The Girl Scouts of America assert that 12% to 17% of each sale goes to the troop. At $4 a box that’s between 48 cents and 68 cents per box sold.
Now the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is taking on the Girl Scouts with the help of two scouts:
We’ve never met before. Our names are Madi and Rhiannon, and we’re Girl Scouts from Michigan. Are you a Girl Scout cookie fanatic?
We used to be. We sold thousands of cookies with our troop—Thin Mints, Tagalongs, Samoas, you name it—until we discovered one huge problem. Girl Scout cookies are full of rainforest-destroying palm oil, supplied to Girl Scouts USA by Cargill, Inc.
We’re determined to make Girl Scout cookies safe for rainforests, and all their inhabitants. That’s why we’re writing you today from Rainforest Action Network. Girl Scouts USA executives need to hear our message loud and clear: “Don’t destroy rainforests to make Girl Scout cookies!”
The girls have been pressing the issue for over three years and have even met with GSUSA representative Barry Horowitz in 2008. More facts from RAN:
- Tropical rainforest destruction is responsible for 15% of current global greenhouse emissions; Indonesia is the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world after China and the USA. Eighty five percent of Indonesia’s emissions are from rainforest and peatland destruction.
- The leading cause of tropical deforestation and peatland destruction in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands is palm oil plantation expansion.
- Palm oil is a key ingredient in every single Girl Scout cookie recipe, save one.
- The US Department of Labor recently added palm oil cultivated in Indonesia to the global list of commodities linked to slave labor and/or child labor.
- Although Girl Scout cookie bakers have RSPO membership, RSPO membership does not provide any assurance that palm oil supplied by member companies is sustainable. The only enforced requirement of RSPO membership is annual membership fee payment. Member companies have been documented clearing forest, peatland and critical wildlife habitat while ignoring human rights – all of which are prohibited in the RSPO principles and criteria. In essence RSPO membership does not ensure that deforestation, orangutan extinction, and climate change are not found in Girl Scout cookies.
The cookies have become healthier over the years, well not really when you consider they original girls scout cookies were baked in home kitchens. Even the move towards zero trans fats is a little deceiving. Cleveland.com reports:
From a nutritional standpoint, there have been changes, too. Until 2005, the cookies contained trans fat — partially hydrogenated vegetable oil — as did most commercially baked cookies. When research began to show that trans fat was unhealthy, the Girl Scouts announced they’d have the recipes reformulated for zero trans fat per serving. That doesn’t really mean “zero,” by the way, because partially hydrogenated vegetable oil is still the second ingredient listed in the Samoas, for example, and can still be found in the long list of ingredients for several of the cookies.
There are so many reasons to avoid Girl Scout cookies. Certainly there is a better way to empower our girls than destroying rain forests to sell cookies.
I agree that the cookies are unhealthy and destroying the rainforest. It’s time for a change in what they sell or the ingredients in what they sell. There are sustainable palm oil companies. But it’s not the girls’ fault. It’s the organization. Hopefully the girls will pressure their org to change. But, seriously – pressure to earn badges or wear a uniform to school? Puhleez! Earning badges isn’t a contest with other scouts. It’s about personal growth. And there was always more pressure in my school to have the newest Nike Cortez sneakers and Izod shirts than grabbing my uniform and wearing it with pride a few times each year. I live in London where most schools require uniforms daily. Much less pressure than who has the coolest Hannah Montanna t-shirt!
Jennifer Lance says
Maybe it was my troop, but yes, there was definitely pressure and competition to have the most badges.
Actually, sustainable palm oil is a lie. The main certification for “sustainable palm oil” doesn’t include standards that prevent the palm oil from causing tropical deforestation – thus sustainable might not be the right term for it. Kellogg’s (one of the Girl Scouts’ bakers) recently announced it will be transitioning to using this so-called sustainable palm oil in the cookies, but that is not enough!! Come on Girl Scouts – stand up for the science and the orangutans!!
Solway Recycling says
Important and and true all products should be looked at in total impact. please see through some greenwash out there in the recycling industries these are still also high users of fossil fuels recycling plastics is greener than using virgin plastic but it is not a zero carbon process.
All the best to those exposing excess and misuse of resources. (Reduce, reuse then recycle in that order) We can all make a positive impact.
Julie Carlson says
I really find it a stretch to place the blame for childhood obesity on Girl Scout Cookies. It’s a cookie…it is not a staple in any diet. It is a treat. It is also a major entrepreneurial program where girls learn to plan a strategy, market a product and manage a business. It also is a money earning activity for troops AND the major funding for ALL of the work done by Girl Scout Councils. Other non-profits can only hope to have a revenue stream with so much brand recognition and community support.
As far as the “killing the rain forest”, Little Brownie Bakers, one of 2 licensed Girl Scout Cookie bakers and it’s parent company, Kellogg are committed to using limited amounts of palm oil and only from growers committed to growing sustainable palm oil. As with all things, time and commitment will make the world a better place. And that is exactly the mission of the Girl Scouts.
Ok get a life. Last I heard humans and human life where worth more than rainforest and animals. And don’t feed us that junk about global warming and killing the air, When God made this world He made it to last UNTILL He said otherwise and when that day comes all the rainforest in the world and space can’t stop the end from coming. So live. Save what you can of the rainforest if that makes you feel good about making the world a better place? But people have the right to life so if you sleep in your sweet rainforest just don’t get in the way of those bulldozers, or not? Your choice. Oh and leave the poor little girl scouts out of it! They have NOTHING to do with destroying cookies, I know I use to work at the local pick up point for distributing them and the troops have to return any cookies not sold back in the maker, because the cookies don’t belong to the troops! And it’s not up to them what happens after they turn them in. It’s just like liberal nuts to make a mountain out of a mole hill, all because they don’t like capitalism you see there all social commies. And FYI if you don’t like cookies because they make you fat, well don’t eat them. You stupid Democrats. (Opps I reveled who you are! … Sorry but you can’t fit stupid.)