Growing up I was shy and awkward. Okay, maybe I’m still a little shy and awkward but my point is that I didn’t always have the confidence to stand up for myself. But a major source of confidence and esteem building for me came from my involvement in Girl Guides (the Canadian version of Girl Scouts).
Taking that lesson to heart, two amazing young ladies in Girl Scouts are standing up for what they believe in. Ann Arbor’s Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva were working on their Girl Scout Bronze Awards when they discovered that Girl Scout cookies contain a lot of palm oil, which is associated with clear cutting and destruction of the rainforest, violations of Indigenous rights and extinction of endangered species like tigers, orangutans and elephants. Tomtishen and Vorva immediately recognized this as a clash of values with the organization’s ideals. “Kids should not have to choose between selling cookies and getting to camp or choosing rainforest deforestation and orangutan extinction. There are links to slave labor as well,” Vorva said. “There should be no human rights abuses occurring in Girl Scout cookies either.”
Tomtishen and Vorva wrote to Girl Scouts USA, but received only a dismissive reply stating that the organization had no say in the ingredients that their baker uses. Now 15 year-olds, they’ve started a campaign to influence the Girl Scouts USA to change their policies on using a baker that includes harmful ingredients in their products. They’ve partnered with the Rainforest Action Network and Change.org, and have the support of Concerned Scientists, the Center for Biological Diversity, Cultural Survival and the Orangutan Foundation International.