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.