Project ORANGS (Orangutans Really Appreciate and Need Girl Scouts) was founded in 2007, after we decided to earn our Girl Scout Bronze Award; an award that requires girls to raise awareness within their community about an issue they are passionate about. Inspired by Dr. Jane Goodall’s incredible work with the chimpanzees, we chose to focus on another great ape, the orangutan. To earn our Bronze Award, we educated youth groups within our community about the plight of the orangutan and their rainforest home.
After researching the harmful impacts palm oil plantations have on the people, animals and environment of Indonesia we began extremely passionate about this cause. We began checking products that we consumed every day, curious to see which ones contained palm oil. While in the midst of Girl Scout Cookie season we flipped over a box of cookies and discovered that palm oil was an ingredient in Girl Scout Cookies. We were shocked, but as Girl Scouts ourselves felt it was absolutely necessary to bring this issue to the attention of the Girl Scouts of the USA (GSUSA) and convince them to make their cookies rainforest-safe. We started numerous campaigns to raise awareness about this issue, including a petition (which has been signed by Dr. Jane Goodall), a letter writing campaign and a puzzle piece campaign that allows past and present Girl Scouts to decorate puzzle pieces with why they believe it is important for Girl Scout Cookies to be rainforest-safe.
By working with a variety of non-profit organizations we have been able to show GSUSA how important it is to act on this issue. Our online campaign with the Rainforest Action Network generated nearly 70,000 emails sent to the CEO of GSUSA and our Rainforest Heroes badge, also designed through the Rainforest Action Network, has allowed girls of all ages to show their support and take action on this issue in a positive manner.
Last May we were fortunate enough to secure a meeting with Girl Scout executives at their headquarters in New York City where they committed to working with us to research and identify a solution to this critical issue.