Girl Scouts of the USA Launches Forever Green Project

Girl Scouts of the USA is launching Girl Scouts Forever Green, its signature 100th year anniversary action project focused on waste reduction, energy conservation and rain gardens. Alcoa Foundation provided a two-year $1.5 million grant to expand the program globally to 20 countries. This grant will enable U.S. and international councils to work together and lead their families, schools and communities in improving the environment and protecting natural resources.

Girl Scouts is harnessing its members’ passion for preserving natural resources by engaging in this global community action project, focused on making a significant impact on the environment. In 2012, Girl Scouts will take action on three main projects: Reduce Waste, Earth Hour, and Rain Gardens. Throughout the year Girl Scouts across the globe will also identify and lead service projects and events focused on the environmental priorities in their local communities.

“Although our girls might be famous for wearing the color green, it’s clear that they are enthusiastic about 'going green' and working to preserve our natural resources,” said Anna Maria Chavez, CEO, Girl Scouts of the USA. “As an organization committed to helping girls become leaders, who make a difference in the world, we couldn’t ignore their passion for the environment and the generous contribution from Alcoa Foundation provides an outlet for girls to funnel their ecological energies.”

The Girl Scouts Forever Green 100th Anniversary Take Action Project was created after Girl Scouts research found that an overwhelming number of girls said protecting the environment is a top priority. This was proven during the program’s pilot years, when the national effort saved more than 1.8 million kWh of energy, eliminated more than 2.8 million pounds of CO2, eliminated over 700,000 pounds of waste and saved nearly 200,000 gallons of water.

“This is a landmark sponsorship for Alcoa Foundation that incorporates our commitment to sustainability and inspiring the next generation of environmental ambassadors," said Paula Davis, president, Alcoa Foundation. “Girls are influential, ambitious and passionate about the environment and Girl Scouts Forever Green gives them tools and resources to engage their peers and neighbors to create their own positive change in their communities -- from conservation to recycling to planting trees. Our employees, including Girl Scouts and Girl Guides alumnae and our global Women’s Network, are excited about this partnership and eager to get involved and help bring the ideas of young women to life."

The second key aspect of the program is observing Earth Hour. During the month of March, Girl Scouts will engage their families, friends, and community affiliates in making small changes that have big results when it comes to lowering CO2 footprints and saving energy and money. They'll do this by replacing incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR® qualified, or other energy-efficient, light bulbs and uniting with hundreds of millions of people around the world as they turn off the lights for one hour—Earth Hour—8:30 p.m.–9:30 p.m. on the last Saturday in March (March 31, 2012).

“Earth Hour and the Girl Scouts USA have a common purpose — to create a better environment for future generations,” said Andy Ridley, Earth Hour co-founder and executive director. “Girl Scouts USA’s participation in Earth Hour illustrates without question what can be achieved when people unite with a common purpose and rally to action.”

The third project of Girl Scouts Forever Green is building rain gardens filled with native plants that capture and absorb storm water and serve as functional gardens. Rain gardens improve water quality by infiltrating and reducing water-born pollutants running into streams, rivers, and other water supplies. They also increase green spaces and wildlife habitats.

A last and key element to the program is the Girl Scouts Forever Green Pledge developed in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program to encourage the adoption of resource conservation activities and to measure their impact. In fact, the EPA is the Girl Scout’s environmental education partner on Girl Scouts Forever Green with the goal of engaging our leaders of tomorrow on protecting human health and safeguarding the natural environment – air, water, and land.

“The Girl Scouts provide young women with leadership experience and opportunities to engage on critical national and international issues like environmental education," said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. "Working with our young people and programs like Energy Star to preserve energy and cut pollution are the first steps in building a cleaner, more sustainable future. The EPA is proud to be working with such an important organization and to be empowering these young women to shape their future and the future of our planet.”

Girl Scouts Forever Green coincides with the Girl Scouts’ new set of Leadership Journeys, It’s Your Planet – Love It!, a collection of six books which tackles issues like conservation, pollution, and renewable and reusable resources while challenging girls to take the lead in protecting the planet. The series, developed for girls grades K-12, uses age-appropriate lessons and exercises that focus on leadership development.