The Greenwashing Behind Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Madeline: Posted 22/10/2017

National Breast Cancer Month is upon us. Pink ribbons are everywhere, symbolizing support for women with breast cancer…and the hope that one day a cure will be found. NBCAM started in October 1985, with an aim to promote mammography as the best way to fight against breast cancer. By 1993, the pink ribbon was established as the symbol for The Breast Cancer Research Fund, founded by Evelyn Lauder, Senior Corporate Vice President of Estee Lauder.

Since then, every October millions pledge their support by wearing pink ribbons and purchasing products that support breast cancer awareness. What many don’t realize is that Breast Cancer Awareness month was started by Astra Zeneca, a pharmaceutical company that sells cancer treatments…and carcinogenic pesticides.

Pretty pink ribbons certainly do their job of raising awareness. It’s estimated that there is over $6 billion raised each year in the name of breast cancer. Despite all the money that is raised by pink ribbon propaganda, an average of 111 women still die each day from breast cancer. And it’s estimated that in 2017 alone, over 252,000 women will lose their lives to this deadly disease.

Pinkwashing and Breast Cancer Awareness

Why are so many women still losing their lives to breast cancer when billions of dollars are raised each year to help find a cure? Pinkwashing is the National Breast Cancer Foundation’s way of greenwashing the public. If you’re not familiar with greenwashing, it is when a company, government, or group promotes green-based environmental initiatives, but actually operates in a way that further damages the environment.

Pinkwashing then, is when companies that use chemicals known to cause cancer claim to be a part of the fight against breast cancer. According to the journal Environmental Justice, “Many corporations that engage in breast cancer cause marketing actually exacerbate the problem by contributing to environmental causes of the disease–they use chemicals linked to cancer and hormone disruption in the manufacture of their products…Funds raised from breast cancer walks and runs undoubtedly serve to further treatment and early detection of breast cancer (which saves more women’s lives). However, corporate entities marketing to cancer patients and their families develop brand loyalty, generate free advertising on the part of women who participate, and discourage questions about the role of chemicals used consumer products in cancer incidence.”

There are countless companies who support breast cancer awareness and hand out pink ribbon products like candy. Many of these companies promoting the “cure” are actually promoting the “cause.” Several of these companies sell consumers products that use chemicals linked to cancer and hormone disruption.

There are (unfortunately) countless examples of this.

One was specially made by the Susan G. Komen Foundation in 2011, a perfume called Promise Me. And while a portion of proceeds made by the perfume were to be dedicated to finding a cure for breast cancer, it contained unlisted chemicals that showed to be toxic and hazardous, not adequately evaluated for human safety, and demonstrated negative health effects.

Another is Proctor & Gamble, the corporation behind Swiffer. A limited edition of pink ribbon Swiffer products was offered; however, these same products contain several chemicals that have been linked to cancer. Full of artificial fragrance that may include phthalates (an endocrine disruptor known to cause cancer) and other harmful ingredients linked to cancer and other disorders, Swiffer is but another example of a company raising awareness for the cure and contributing to the cause.

Being aware of breast cancer is one of the smartest things women can do. There is a difference between being aware of the cause and purchasing products that contribute to it, and being aware of what products to avoid. The very same products you might purchase because you think they will contribute to the support of finding a cure for breast cancer can be the very ones that increase your risk of contracting it.

It’s vital to know what’s in your products and ensure that what you’re using is safe. In Europe, some 1,400 chemicals known to cause cancer are banned from consumer products. In the US, there are only 11 controlled ingredients. These same ingredients are the ones that are hiding in the products consumers use every day. And because there aren’t any strict regulations about listing personal care product ingredients in the US,  something “natural” can actually be full of toxic chemicals.

Protecting Yourself Against Pinkwashing

I am doing everything I can to ensure the products I use are safe. I know I can make choices that positively affect the health of myself and my family. Adamant about choosing products that are free of toxins, I’ve made it my mission to bring awareness to others who want to live a truly “natural” lifestyle.

I’ve found Poofy Organics to be one of my favorite, most-trusted companies to purchase products I feel confident using for myself and family. With no hidden ingredients and a certified organic hand-made product line, I know what I’m using is free of toxins and any cancer-causing ingredients. If you haven’t already, also check out Made Safe. Made Safe is America’s first nontoxic seal for products we use every day.

This National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’ve made it a goal to inform my readers of making truly educated choices when it comes to preventing cancer. Rather than invest money in these companies who claim to support the cure yet contribute to the cause, I believe we all need to be aware of what’s in our products and ensure that what we’re using is truly safe.

This October, let us stand together to become part of the cure by choosing products free of toxic ingredients. By using products and eating healthy, non-GMO foods that aren’t linked to breast cancer, we will truly make a difference in the fight.


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