2 Girl Scouts spent years telling the world about palm oil. Here's what they want you to know.
Grab a Krispy Kreme and check this out.
What makes the world go 'round?
You were going to say love, right? Or maybe money? Oil! But not the stuff from underground...
We're talking palm oil.
Yep, palm oil is a major world commodity. It makes our donuts delish, our cookies crunchy, our ice cream mouthwatering, our makeup smooth, our lipstick luscious, our shampoo foamy, etc., etc.
Lots of rural Indonesians benefit from the palm oil economy, which provides income and has led to good things we all want like schools, roads, and hospitals.
In 2007, two 11-year-old Girl Scouts, Madison Vorva and Rhiannon Tomtishen discovered that Girl Scout cookies contain palm oil. They were horrified.
Well, since we ALL enjoy the fruits of the oil palm, here's what they want us to know:
- Palm oil is used in about half of all our packaged food and body care products.
- Production of palm oil has skyrocketed since the 1980s (although people have been using this oil for centuries).
- There's a downside, and it's big. Pristine Indonesian rainforest has disappeared at really alarming rates. In fact, a 2007 United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) report said that most of the country's forest might be destroyed by 2022. (The palm oil industry will only grow larger — plantations are starting up in Africa.)
- As the forest goes, so goes the home of indigenous peoples who rely on the forest for their living, as well as a remarkable diversity of plants and wild animals, including rhinos, elephants, tigers, and orangutans. There are also reports of human rights abuses when companies have cleared land for plantations without proper consultation with the indigenous people who live there. And you can bet they didn't ask the orangutans either.
I bet David Attenborough would have a few things to say about that.
Really dismayed by what they learned about the human and wildlife costs of palm oil, Madison and Rhiannon decided to take action.
The girls launched a number of campaigns, including teaming up with the Rainforest Action Network. After several years, they've succeeded in persuading the bakers of Girl Scout cookies to change their source of palm oil to more sustainable producers.
Krispy Kreme and Dunkin' Donuts have followed suit.
Way to go, Madison and Rhiannon!
Whoa! Before you celebrate with another bite of that cookie: There are a lot of questions about what "sustainable" palm oil really means.
It's most def a work in progress. We have to keep up the pressure on companies to be responsible producers because they aren't exactly leading the way without some noise-making and voting with dollars from our part.
Want to learn more? These guys explain all about palm oil (with some orangutan assistance).