When Rhiannon Tomtishen, 15, of Ann Arbor and Madison Vorva, 16, of Plymouth learned that Indonesian and Malaysian palm oil plantations were destroying the rain forests that are home to orangutans, they took action, the Detroit Free Press reported Tuesday.
The girls' 2007 project about orangutans for a Girl Scout Bronze Award has grown into a nationwide campaign to remove palm oil from Thin Mints and the rest of the cookie lineup, the newspaper said.
The duo got little response from the Girls Scouts when they first raised the issue, but they started petitions and in May the two met with national Girl Scout leadership in New York.
The non-profit group said it supports sustainability but that palm oil is the most cost-efficient ingredient on the market. It also is healthier and more stable than other options such as butter, the Girl Scouts said.
However, the scouting group said it would look into sourcing palm oil that doesn't promote deforestation and finding a replacement in line with the Girl Scout law -- "use resources wisely, make the world a better place."
Both Tomtishen and Vorva said they have chosen not to sell the cookies.
Tomtishen said she and Vorva haven't quit scouting because "the biggest ability to change is from the inside."
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