Monday, October 11, 2010

Pinkwashing: Think Before You Pink

What is pinkwashing?

1. a term used to describe the activities of companies and groups that position themselves as leaders in the struggle to eradicate breast cancer while engaging in practices that may be contributing to rising rates of the disease. (source)
2. Using support for breast cancer research to market products, particularly products that cause cancer.Pinkwashing is a blend of pink, the color associated with breast cancer research, and whitewashing, "concealing flaws." (source)
3. The term “pinkwashing” is sometimes used to describe products which are targeted at people who are concerned about breast cancer, with the “pink” being a reference to the pink ribbons used to symbolize breast cancer research. Pinkwashed products are often sold with claims that the purchase of the product will benefit breast cancer research or patients suffering from breast cancer, leading consumers to believe that they are making a sound ethical choice by purchasing such products. (source)

The most recent company (that I can recall) to be nationally blasted for pink washing was KFC and their pink "Buckets for the Cure" campaign. This was especially egregious as many believe their is a link between cancer and food like fried chicken. However, pinkwashing is not always so obvious. Some companies feature the pink ribbon or turn packaging pink, leading consumers to believe that profits from purchasing those products will go towards cancer research donations. This is not always the case. Some companies make no donation at all, while others make a minuscule donation, sometimes only $.50 of profit.

Think Before you Pink has some questions consumers should ask if they are looking to "buy pink."

1. How much money from your purchase actually goes toward breast cancer? Is the amount clearly stated on the package? If you can’t tell how much money is being donated, or if you don’t think it’s enough, give directly to the organization instead.

2. What is the maximum amount that will be donated? Whenever there is a cap, your individual purchase may not contribute anything to the cause, depending on when you shop and whether the cap has already been met.

3. How are the funds being raised? Sometimes the purchase alone does not ensure a contribution.

4. To what breast cancer organization does the money go, and what types of programs does it support?

5. What is the company doing to assure that its products are not actually contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?

Remember, if you want to make a donation, you can make donations directly to the National Breast Cancer Foundation and Susan G. Komen. And if you want to show visible support, there is The Pink Ribbon Shop (which donates to various legitimate cancer research foundations) and Shop Komen.

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