Going pink for October: empowerment or pinkwashing?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a worthy cause to be sure. I am all for anything that will cause you (and me and everyone) to stop and think about breast cancer: how to reduce your risk, what are the signs and symptoms to watch out for, how to support someone going through treatment, and what research is being conducted so that 1 in 8 women will never have to suffer from this disease at all.

Breast Cancer Awarenessphoto credit: webandthecity

I am sure you have all heard of brainwashing and probably even whitewashing, but what about greenwashing [1. What Is Greenwashing? from Scientific American, Stop Greenwashing from Greenpeace, What is greenwashing? How can I be more informed? from I Thought I Knew Mama, Petitioning Pink Ribbons from Healthy Child, Healthy World] , bluewashing [2. “Bluewashing Has Become a Very Risky Business” from Inter Press Service News Agency, Bluewashing: Bottled Water from Eco News Network, Bluewashing from The New York Times, Bluewashing: Why the Bottled Water Industry’s EcoFriendly Claims Don’t Hold Water from Food & Water Watch] , and especially for the month of October, pinkwashing?

Pinkwashing?

Unfortunately, the popularity of the month also brings out organizations and companies that want your money, but are continually doing things and making products that are completely undermining any attempts to prevent more women (or men) from getting breast cancer in the first place.

A few examples of the pinkwashing we ought not support. Just because it has a pink ribbon does it mean it is safe and may not even help the women with breast cancer or the researchers looking for a cure.

This is a link-heavy post. That, my friends, is where true awareness comes from – reading. I believe in every source I cited and believe there are hundreds more I didn’t. Read, read labels, wear pink if it suits you, but understand that true cures come from real research, not from a pink ribbon.

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Comments

Going pink for October: empowerment or pinkwashing? — 19 Comments

  1. Thank you for linking to my post on Pinkwashing. It has now come up in many off-line conversattions, with many of my women friends noting that they hadn’t conisdered the issue. Neither had I before very recently, so getting the word out like you have is important.

  2. I’m glad that you’re covering this topic because I have come to the same conclusion over the past several weeks. Now I have a name for it – Pinkwashing. I feel like everything has been Pink over the past two weeks. I am concerned that consumers buy something because it’s Pink and are unaware of the direct connection to any actual Breast Cancer Efforts. In some cases, there might even be a positive impact for any true efforts to make people more aware of Breast Cancer and any research done to reduce it.

    Btw, I am your newest GFC follower. I found you through Green & Natural Mama Thursday.

    All Natural Katie
    allnaturalkatie at gmail dot com
    http://allnaturalkatie.blogspot.com
    All Natural Katie recently posted..Green Motivation Monday – Choose Cycling over Driving

    • I only wish that if everything went pink for the month of October it would mean something to end the high rates of breast cancer, unfortunately it often serves to increase them. Until we, as consumers, become educated then it will only be marketing with a little donation money thrown in for good measure.

  3. Excellent post! I’m not really surprised that so many companies jump on the “washing” bandwagon … there’s big money in it. But what surprises me is how many people accept, at face value, a company’s claim that they are supporting breast cancer research or the environment, etc. Perhaps it’s just laziness … some people don’t want to make the effort to look beyond the pretty advertisement … or maybe some believe there is truth in advertising. But … if we want change in our world, we need to educate ourselves and then use our brains when making choices. A company can’t have it both ways … they can’t, on one hand, donate to cancer research when, on the other hand, they are creating products that cause it. That is … they can’t unless we let them.
    Small Footprints recently posted..Change The World Wednesday (#CTWW)

    • Thanks you! You hit hit the nail on the head there: “A company can’t have it both ways … they can’t, on one hand, donate to cancer research when, on the other hand, they are creating products that cause it. That is … they can’t unless we let them.”

      Why are we continuing to allow this to go on and to support it?

  4. First off thanks for linking to my post. Second, as I touched on in my post breast cancer is personal for me. Watched my best friend’s mom die from breast cancer and I just found out today that another best friend is cancer-free, they though she had breast cancer and we waited for 2 1/2 LONG weeks to find out she thankfully doesn’t. I have another friend battling thyroid cancer.

    Cures are great but prevention is even better!!
    Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green recently posted..Blog Action Day: 1 Billion Starving People

    • With statistics like those of breast cancer, I don’t know many people that have not been touched by it. In the last year alone, I have had three friends battle breast cancer – two still are and one has been proclaimed cancer-free. I definitely agree that the key is in prevention!

  5. Thanks for covering this important topic. I always wonder when I see that pink ribbon how much of the proceeds actually go towards helping women- now I can see that whatever percentage is donated might actually be offset by harmful environmental practices of the company. I hope more mainstream media sources will take a critical eye at this subject as well.

  6. I totally agree with you on this topic. I had come to this conclusion several years ago. I felt like the marketers had railroaded the whole breast cancer awareness away from the real victims and the real info on how to prevent/cure it. Thier 2 cents per product is insignificant when you look at their marketing budgets. If they were serious about funding the research, they would just donate, not require their consumers to buy products. We would be better off just giving our $ directly to the researchers than trying to contribute by consuming more.
    Michelle Saunderson recently posted..Is There Anything Out There?

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