Two Girl Scouts have earned their merit badge in effecting social change.
Madison Vorva, 16, and Rhiannon Tomtishen, 15, of Michigan started a campaign five years ago urging the Girl Scouts of America to stop using palm oil in its cookies, the Wall Street Journal reports. Now, the company will tell bakers to use as little of the oil as possible, purchase GreenPalm certificates and will try to switch to sustainable oil by 2015.
In 2006, Madison and Rhiannon started doing research on endangered orangutans for a Bronze Award leadership project. When they found out that many of the brands of cookies they were shilling contributed to habitat deforestation in rainforests, they created Project O.R.A.N.G.S and stopped selling the treats.
The girls continued their fight for years, rallying other Scouts and high-profile groups, including the Union of Concerned Scientists and the Rainforest Action Network. They were profiled by the Wall Street Journal in May, shortly before they met with Girl Scouts officials in New York.
While the teens are glad the organization has finally agreed to have the cookie bakers change some practices, they aren’t completely satisfied.
“It's definitely a step in the right direction,” Rhiannon told the Journal. ”However, the steps don't go far enough It doesn't ensure that the cookies will be completely deforestation-free and environmentally friendly.”
Madison said in a statement.: “As a nonprofit organization, not a food company, there should be no question that Girl Scout Cookies contain ingredients that live up to the values described in the Girl Scout Law. We look forward to continuing to work with Girl Scouts USA to become a real leader in protecting forests and wildlife.”