So in lieu of keeping things #current I figured we’d take some time in today’s post to talk about this month’s buzzword: pinkwashing. Coined by Breast Cancer Action’s “Think Before you Pink” campaign, pinkwashing is a label used to describe organizations who promote pink ribbon products without actually donating money to breast cancer awareness or research foundations. Essentially, companies and organizations like the NFL, Yoplait, Avon, and Kentucky Fried Chicken will tout pinkified products to show their support for breast cancer awareness… but won’t actually do anything to support breast cancer awareness. As October rolls around it’s easy to get caught up in watching the leaves (and buckets of fried chicken) change color, but our fight for the cure goes far beyond the pink ribbon.
While products that sport the color pink may encourage consumers to think about the topic of breast cancer, that’s pretty much where the line is drawn. Last year the National Breast Cancer Coalition addressed the issue of pinkwashing as being a method for companies to boost their product sales. Calling for “action, not awareness” the Coalition is now pushing the conversation away from the color pink and asking for tangible support from the companies who had claimed to already be doing so.
Breast Cancer Action’s “Think Before you Pink” is also calling for a shift in the conversation. As consumers, it is critical that we are consciously thinking about the products we buy, especially during the month of October. The campaign poses four questions to ask ourselves before we buy pink:
- Does the money from this product go towards support for breast cancer programs?
- How will breast cancer programs be using this money to “turn the tide” of the breast cancer epidemic?
- Does the company selling this product have a cap on the amount of money they are aloud to donate? Has this cap already been met?
- Is the pinkified product linked to any toxins or other contributing factors that lead to breast cancer?
By taking the time to ask these four simple questions, we can not only embark our journey towards becoming conscious consumers, but we can also start to encourage companies to walk the walk and talk the talk when it comes to supporting breast cancer.
While October may soon be over, the prevalence of pink products will remain on supermarket shelves for the foreseeable future. I encourage you to push past the pink M&M’s and ribbon studded yogurt cups in order to get to the real issue- breast cancer. If you are genuinely interested in making a positive change or donation, check out organizations like the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the National Breast Cancer Foundation for more information. While I am SO stoked that our society dedicates an entire month to a disease that effects both women and men at an alarming rate, we mustn’t confuse genuine support with product placement.