A New Jersey Girl Scout troop is joining a movement started by a little girl in Tennessee, boycotting their biggest fundraiser of the year after they learned that it has ties to child labor.
The annual Girl Scout Cookies sale is usually an exciting time for Troop 1226 of Jersey City, and lovers of sweet treats, but that all changed after trooper leader Gina Verdibello saw an Associated Press report which found that palm oil, one of the cookies' main ingredients, is often harvested under hazardous conditions by children in countries like Indonesia and Malaysia.
"It's not OK for things like palm oil, unsustainable palm oil, to be in these cookies," Verdibello told NBC New York. When she informed her troop, they were immediately disappointed.
"I think that this behavior is definitely unacceptable," said one of the scouts. So they decided to boycott the sales, which normally help pay for things like their patches and Halloween parties.
They were inspired by a fellow Girl Scout Olivia Chaffin, who was a top cookie seller in her rural Tennessee troop when she first heard rainforests were being destroyed to make way for ever-expanding palm oil plantations. Those oils are not just in cookies, they're also in a dizzying array of products sold by leading Western food and cosmetics brands, according to the Associated Press.
Girl Scouts of the United States of America last month acknowledge the problem and called on the two companies that bake their iconic cookies to act quickly to address any potential abuses.
“Child labor has no place in Girl Scout Cookie production,” the Girl Scouts tweeted. “Our investment in the development of our world’s youth must not be facilitated by the under-development of some.”
But those cookies are still being sold and Verdibello says until the organization makes it right, her troop will not be selling any cookies and urged other troops around the country to join the boycott.