Girl Scouts Finally Pledge to Use Certified Palm Oil in Cookies

Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) announced yesterday that they’ve committed to using GreenPalm certified palm oil in their iconic cookies. Starting with the 2012-2013 cookie season, each cookie box will feature the GreenPalm logo. Palm oil is grown primarily in Malaysia and Indonesia, with both countries accounting for 85 percent of all production. One in two supermarket products contain palm oil, ranging from packaged food to lipsticks.

In addition, GSUSA is taking other steps to ensure the palm oil used in its cookies is sustainable, including,  purchasing GreenPalm certificates to support the sustainable production of palm oil. Through the purchase of the certificates, palm oil producers who practice sustainable methods set by the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil are offered a premium price.

Other steps the GSUSA is taking include:

  • GSUSA will work with its bakers to join other industry leaders in making a pledge to move to a certified sustainable palm oil source by 2015, based on market availability.
  • GSUSA directed its bakers to use as little palm oil as possible, and only use it is recipes where there is no alternative.
  • GSUSA will help build a coalition of respected environmental organizations that support sustainable palm oil and carry that message to global industry leaders.
  • GSUSA will become an affiliate member of the Roundtable for Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

Two teenage Girl Scouts from Michigan launched a campaign five years ago to force GSUSA to make its cookies from certified palm oil. The girls, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen, launched the campaign after learning that habitat of orangutan’s is threatened by deforestation caused by palm oil production.

Vorva’s and Tomtishen’s concerns for orangutans are valid. In 1900 there were 315,000 orangutans, and today there are less than 50,000 in the wild. Scientists cite the palm oil industry as the biggest threat to orangutans and are concerned that orangutans could be extinct within 12 years unless their natural habitat is protected.

“Madison and Rhiannon have done exactly what Girl Scouts teaches girls: find a cause you care about, connect with others, and take action to change the world,” said Amanda Hamaker, GSUSA’s Manager of Product Sales. “They are shining examples of leadership in persuading a 99-year-old American icon to take on a serious global issue.”

“Girl Scouts’ palm oil use is very small, but our voice is big,” said Hamaker. “Palm oil is an important product to the world’s food supply, so we believe promoting sustainable manufacturing principles is the most responsible approach for Girl Scouts.”

Photo: Flickr user, Marit and Toomas Hinnosaar

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by Mashable.com.