The Pink Ribbon Debate

Every October we see in the pages of magazines, catalogs and on web sites all of the pink products to buy in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  Pink campaigns are all the rage.

If you haven’t yet heard the term, “pinkwashing” is when corporations and brands try to increase sales by associating their products with the fight against breast cancer.  Pinkwashing is a form of marketing campaign designed to make consumers feel like they’re helping solve a serious issue while in actuality their dollars are not making much of an impact beyond increasing the company’s profit margin.

Think about it.  Do you really need to buy that $100 pink scarf when just $5 from the purchase is going to the charity?  Couldn’t you make a much bigger impact by purchasing a $20 scarf of your choice and putting $80 towards finding a cure?  Pinkwashing occurs on everything from scarves to clothes to food to household items.

So, if you’re like me, we both want to support Breast Cancer Awareness Month but without being swindled.  What’s a girl with boobs to do?

I asked a few experts and here’s what they suggest:

· See if the items you already purchase for your home and family are donating proceeds to a breast cancer charity during the month of October.  You can do this by going to your favorite brands’ web sites.  If the answer is yes, this is a great time to stock up on your favorite items.

· Look for pink ribbon products that donate 50% or more of the proceeds from the product to a breast cancer charity.  That’s 25% or more of the total cost of the item.  Not all of these items are pink in color but more importantly, by nature.

· If you can’t find a percentage, look for products that tell you the exact amount which will be donated to an organization if you purchase the product.  Then you can figure out for yourself if your being pinkwashed.

· Instead of purchasing a pink ribbon product consider donating directly to a breast cancer charity such as the Susan G. Komen Foundation or to one of the walkers for the Breast Cancer 3 Day http://www.KomenAdvocacy.org.

· Sign up to participate in the Army of Women at http://www.armyofwomen.org/.  By signing up you will receive periodic emails announcing new research studies looking for volunteers with or without breast cancer.  Some might require you to complete a questionnaire, while others might need a sample of blood, urine, saliva, breast fluid, or breast tissue.   You will never be pressured to take part in any study and you decide which studies (if any) you want to take part in.

· Support programs like the SCAR Project (www.thescarproject.org), a series of large-scale portraits of young breast cancer survivors that puts face on breast cancer because in reality breast cancer is not a pink ribbon.

Breast cancer is such an important cause and it is wonderful that we are acknowledging it in big ways.  I just want to propose that we purchase pink products which make a significant contribution towards finding a cure so one day there will be no such thing as a pink ribbon.

How are you getting your pink on this month?

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Comments

  1. Disagree with respect. All those pink ribbons are raising awareness. yes, they are mostly bringing cash into the companies that are offering a paltry 5% (and shame on them) but these brands are spending big money to talk about the issue. And without the fashion buzz there would be a LOT less money going into research.

    So yes shop and spend money wisely when it comes to pink, but don’t bash the brands for getting on the pinkwagon.

    • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles says:

      Thanks for your thoughts, Nicole. BTW, thank you, also for choosing to disagree respectfully because that is what makes for great conversation!

  2. Jessica,
    I appreciate this debate and I agree, some companies are highly generous to breast cancer research and funding for women battling the disease, in October and year-round. Others, while their intentions may be pure, do a form of pinkwashing if they offer less than 50% of proceeds. I think your post is helpful so we can sort out how we support the cause. Thanks for posting this on my Facebook page, “Bra Color Status Updates for Dollars.”

  3. I’m glad someone is starting a dialogue about this issue. I think the real issue with “pink washing” is the companies who are marketing their products that contain carcinogens that have been directly linked to causing cancer in the first place. You had some great suggestions for how to really make an impact with our spending, thanks!

  4. I always give all my donations straight to the charity.

  5. I think you make a good point. Monet given directly to a cause always goes further. And while I do think some pink ribbon products raise awareness not all of them are needed. Is a pink blender really raising awareness for breast cancer research?

  6. Thank you for bringing more attention to pinkwashing. It seems like this year people are paying much more attention and spending their dollars more wisely!

  7. Heather Tovey says:

    I agree so much. This pinkwashing and the ridiculous “breast cancer awareness” games on Facebook annoy me so much. If you want to help, donate directly or volunteer. Giving money to big corporations or playing Facebook games only makes you think you’re doing something when you’re doing very little, if at all. And in the case of Facebook games, sometimes you’re just offending people with breast cancer.

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