Thin Mints and Palm Oil Sustainability
I want to hand it to Wall Street Journal reporter Julie Jargon for this excellent quote:
"My troop is up in arms," says Nicole Bell, a Lansing, Kan., leader and former scout. "They do not want to sell cookies next year."
The WSJ story details how two Girl Scouts, teenagers Rhiannon Tomtishen and Madison Vorva, found themselves, as cookie vendors, in the uncomfortable position of dealing with recalcitrant suppliers. They learned in the course of a Girl-Scout badge-awarding research project that palm oil plantations threaten Indonesian rainforests and wildlife, including orangutans.
Palm oil is in many food and other household products (like soap). The two scouts discovered that it is also in Girl Scout cookies.
But the Girl Scouts organization, and its cookie-bakers, say they are not in a position to replace the palm oil in their products. The cookies are a major fundraiser for the organzation and bring in an eye-popping $714 million in annual revenues.
Still, it's the Girl Scouts brand that sells the cookie, and not the other way around. Surely, with that kind of buying power, the Girl Scouts could find a way to source sustainable palm oil if there is no other substitute.
The scouts could start by following the example of Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps. This privately held, brand-conscious firm has already laid the groundwork for palm oil that is both earth- and local community-friendly. Dr. Bronners has said it would welcome more supply-chain pull for their sustainable farming efforts.