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Orangutans Really Appreciate and Need Girl Scouts

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Classroom Spotlight

Rhiannon T.'s picture
By: Rhiannon T.
August 26, 2014 - 5:41pm

 

Throughout this year, we have had the pleasure of connecting with a second grade class at an international school in Singapore. From email discussions to Skype calls, its been an absolute pleasure to share our experiences with these students and to watch as they too grow passionate about the problem with unsustainable palm oil. Lead by their teacher, Mr. Gorman, theyve learned about the issues affecting the rain forests of Southeast Asia and have taken action to affect change.

Mr. Gorman writes,

 

During our second grade 'Sharing the Planet' unit, my students and I discovered the cause of the smoke that was drifting into Singapore this past February. We decided to take action by educating the entire grade level by holding an assembly that was based on our findings about palm oil and its negative effects to the global environment and the animals and people of Indonesia. My students created posters, flyers, newsletters and educated their friends and families outside of school. They even wrote to Cargill and integrated their new knowledge into all subjects, including Math!

My students are now in third grade and continue to see the overwhelming amount of consumption of products that contain palm oil. Thanks to Rhiannon and Madi my students have been inspired to continue our class mission as they enter a new school year. I am proud to say one of my students and his family decided to go to Borneo over the summer break to witness the massive amount of destruction that has been done to the rainforest. They were shocked to see the many hectares of palm oil plantations that have been planted over the once lush peat lands of the rainforest.”

 

This group of energetic, creative and articulate advocates is a moving reminder of the power that we all have, regardless of age or background, to make a difference in the world. Mr Gorman summed it up best saying,“ You just never know what could grow inside a child's mind, once you plant the seed of inspiration.

Where does the campaign to make Girl Scout cookies rainforest-safe currently stand?

Rhiannon T.'s picture
By: Rhiannon T.
February 25, 2014 - 12:59am

In September 2011, Girl Scouts USA announced a palm oil policy which marked the first change in the organization's 100+ year history ever to have been driven directly by its own members. This was the result of our 5 year campaign, Project ORANGS, which garnered the support of over 140,000 Girl Scout cookie consumers and  organizations like the Union of Concerned Scientists, the Rainforest Action Network, and Climate Advisers.

While we commend GSUSA for taking a step in the right direction, their current policy does not do enough to protect the communities, forests, endangered species or the global climate from the detrimental impacts of unsustainable palm oil production. Instead of requesting that the bakers of Girl Scout cookies to change where they source their palm oil from, GSUSA has chosen to offset their use of unsustainable palm oil by purchasing GreenPalm certificates. The GreenPalm "sustainability" logo on all Girl Scout cookie boxes is extremely misleading to consumers because GSUSA has not yet switched to truly sustainable, deforestation-free sources of palm oil. Therefore, we have requested that GSUSA remove this logo from cookie boxes and make the investment to ensure that the palm oil used in their products is not contributing to human rights abuses and deforestation.
 
While GSUSA has not yet addressed these requests (and in fact, in the fall of 2013, informed us that they would no longer be willing to communicate with us about their existing policy), we are very excited to announce that Kellogg's has become the first major American company to take a stand on this issue and has committed to transitioning to deforestation-free palm oil supply chains by 2015! We have been in communication with Kellogg's Chief Sustainability Officer since May 2012, and last August we delivered over 115,000 petitions in partnership with SumOfUs urging the company to eliminate it's connection to the destruction of real "Tony the Tiger" rainforest habitat for palm oil plantations. Additionally, Kellogg's has used their influence to help persuade Wilmar, which trades 45% of the world's palm oil, to adopt a deforestation-free palm oil policy. In December, Wilmar adopted such a policy which sends a clear signal to other major palm oil suppliers and traders that now is the time to commit to deforestation-free palm oil supply chains. 
 
Kellogg's owns Little Brownie Bakers, one of the two Girl Scout cookie bakers, which means that half of Girl Scout cookies will soon be rainforest-safe. Now that Kellogg's has taken the lead and set an example, we hope that ABC Bakers will soon follow suit to ensure that the palm oil they source for Girl Scout cookies will also be produced under these same rigorous guidelines. Whether this shift is driven by ABC Bakers themselves, or GSUSA, our seven year goal remains. We believe that Girl Scouts shouldn't have to choose between selling cookies and contributing to species extinction. Every single cookie in the 200 million boxes of Girl Scout Cookies sold annually should only contain palm oil that is sourced from conflict-free and deforestation-free sources.

In order to encourage GSUSA to adopt a new policy that would remove the GreenPalm logo from their boxes and require both of their bakers to use deforestation-free supply chains, we need your help! Please consider writing a letter or email urging the organization  to make a deforestation-free palm oil commitment. Also, stay tuned to our Facebook page and Twitter for other ways to get involved.
 
As proud Girl Scout members for the last 12 years, we feel that it is our responsibility to ask our organization to live up to the values they teach millions of girls (especially the importance of "making the world a better place") by committing to truly deforestation-free and conflict-free sources of palm oil for Girl Scout cookies.
 
To learn more about what we define as deforestation-free palm oil, click here.
To learn more about the GreenPalm program and its relation to Girl Scout cookies, click here

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