JERSEY CITY, NJ — Normally this time of year, Girl Scouts spread out into the community to sell their much-sought after cookies. It is a tradition that goes back to the foundation of the scouting program.
But the message Jersey City Girl Scout Troop 12026 took to the streets of downtown Jersey City earlier this month was not about selling cookies; rather, it was about boycotting them.
The scouts joined a national movement against the sale of the delicious treats after finding out that their ingredients include palm oil, which has been linked to child labor and deforestation.
“We don’t want to sell or eat cookies that use child labor/deforestation,” Gina Verdibello, who serves as scout leader for the troop said, adding that it is a human rights issue.
“Until this changes we will not sell cookies,” she declared.
Cadette, one of the many outraged Jersey City scouts said sustainable palm oil is fine, but the baker of these cookies uses a mix of sustainable and unsustainable palm oil.
“Unsustainable palm oil is made in Indonesia and Malaysia. In those two countries they not only cause deforestation but force kids by the age of 10 to quit school and work in fields barefoot making less than a dollar a month. People buying stuff made from that unsustainable palm oil is supporting this to happen. This is why, until the Girl Scout cookies fix the palm oil problem, our troop will not be selling cookies,” Cadette said.
The protest in Jersey City included a scout leader from Oregon, whose troop has also joined the national campaign which was started by a Girl Scout in Tennessee after an investigative report by the Associated Press uncovered the exploitative use of adult and child labor in obtaining palm oil.
Verdibello said that while cookie sales are the primary means by which the troop raises funds for their programs, opposing exploitive manufacturing practices is more important. Since local chapters cannot conduct other fundraising events during the national cookie drive, the chapter will have to rely on the goodwill and donations from a supportive public.
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