Jonesborough girl boycotts Girl Scout cookies after finding controversial ingredient

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JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — Fourteen-year-old Olivia Chaffin did as many other Girl Scouts do; she sold the popular Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties and Lemonades — even earning top seller spots.

Photo: Olivia Chaffin

Her cookie sales plummeted to zero, though, after discovering one ingredient linked to deforestation: palm oil.

Chaffin told News Channel 11 she originally believed the climate to bear the brunt from palm oil production, but she later found that the quality of human lives remains at stake as inhumane labor continues half a globe away.

“The lives of animals in the rainforest, and the earth as well; it affects the climate as well whenever they burn the forests,” Chaffin said. “And most recently, I learned about the child labor as well and unfair labor and forced labor. It hurts so many lives and hurts the environment, people and animals.”

The Associated Press dug deeper into the realm of abuse and child labor that persists as popular companies and brands continue to seek palm oil. The AP found from U.S. Customs records along with data from buyers and traders that one of the makers of Girl Scouts cookies, Ferrero, is linked to processing mills.

The young activist said she’s been in contact with the CEO of Girl Scouts, but she stopped hearing back after she addressed the products’ mixed sustainability label. Chaffin aims to correspond with the new CEO regarding the matter.

“I’m going to write again to the CEO of Girl Scouts and the bakers of the Girl Scout cookies and hopefully the letters they receive [will encourage] them to take action,” she said. “I think the word needs to be spread about what is happening because a lot of people don’t even know how bad it is.”

And spread the word Chaffin has done: she organized a petition HERE, which has received thousands of signatures in support of Girl Scouts removing palm oil from its ingredient list.

The Girl Scout website addresses its use of palm oil and states the following:

Our licensed bakers are committed to Sustainable Palm Oil in Girl Scout Cookies and are continuing to research viable alternatives. To read more about our bakers’ positions on palm oil, visit their websites: Little Brownie Bakers or ABC Bakers.  

Girl Scouts

For the complete Girl Scouts FAQ regarding its use of palm oil, CLICK HERE.

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