Are pink products making you and the planet sick?

So, the other day my sister freaked out a little on Facebook. She was upset due to a post at Forbes where a woman blogger, in my sister’s words, “Bashes buying pink products to support breast cancer“. That’s true. This blogger was pretty much bashing pink products. Said blogger notes…

“Breast cancer awareness month has bugged me for years–I imagine the cheap plastic factories overseas churning out all manner of things, rubbing their palms over how quickly American women open their wallets to anything pink or emblazoned with the Susan G Komen ribbon…

Before I’m lynched, I’ll put it out there: I am not anti-breast cancer research. I’ve known too many women lost to the disease and their families devastated to be that cold-hearted. Like everyone, I pray that a cure is found for breast cancer.

It’s just the crap I can’t abide.”

Honestly, it’s hard NOT to agree with this blogger. The whole buy pink phenomenon that occurs during Breast Cancer Awareness month has become as overblown as Earth Day swag shenanigans. On top of that most of the swag served up for breast cancer awareness directly harms the planet, isn’t aligned with Fair Trade practices, and worse, could actually be causing cancer due to harmful, non-earth, non-people friendly chemicals.

Of course here’s where it gets a little fuzzy, because what matters more depends on who you ask. Do green issues matter more than breast cancer research or is it the other way around? Can you even compare the two issues?

That said, here’s some general swag (and companies) that have been associated with donating to the cure:

  • Georgia-Pacific – this year, the company is donating money toward breast cancer research if you buy their Quilted Northern Ultra Toilet Paper made of virgin pulp fiber and dyed with chlorine, which contributes to the formation of harmful chemicals that wind up in our air and water and are highly toxic to people and fish. This a product that’s killing whole forests and releasing tons of organochlorines (dioxins and chlorinated toxic pollutants) into the environment daily.
  • Huggies – a clear greenwashing company, not to mention a company that exposes your baby and the earth to harmful chemicals.
  • OPI – is selling pink nail polish for the cure this year. However, their products contain ingredients shown to cause cancer and the ingredients used by this company have been shown to cause developmental/reproductive toxicity, endocrine disruption, biochemical or cellular level changes and more.

My sister specifically mentioned Payless Shoes and how she likes their support the cure bracelet, so I figured we’d take a look at that. Payless notes, “Payless will donate to Susan G. Komen for the Cure 100% of the net profits (at least $1.00 per bracelet) from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelets.” These bracelets cost $2 each and there’s no sourcing available at the website. Payless actually has a global sourcing policy (better than most mainstream companies) but without Fair Trade certification to back it up, their policy is not much more than us having to take them at their word. Since I can’t find info about them at the Fair Trade Federation or Trans Fair, I’m guessing they’re not certified.

I do know that their shoes are mass produced in China, and for $2 I’m betting their bracelets are as well. This is where you run into trouble, because there’s been a slew of issues, not only with child labor to make cheap jewelry, but heavy metal cadmium has been found in these pieces which is harmful. Basically, it’s hard to tell how ethical a Payless Breast Cancer Awareness Bracelet is. But what it comes down to is we really don’t know.

In the end, if your goal is green living, there are plenty of pink products you should avoid. Cosmetics with chemicals that cause cancer, products with chemicals that hit adolescent girls when they’re young, non-stick pink cookware, plastic pink water bottles, non-organic tees that contribute pesticides into our environment, special pink foods and so much more. If you support breast cancer research, it’s seriously counterproductive to buy harmful products that may factor into causing breast cancer.

Before you buy any pink product read Think Before You Pink. Also, it’s almost always a better choice to give your money directly to a breast cancer support organization.

What do you think? Is pinkwashing as bad as greenwashing? OR do the pros of pink products outweigh the cons?

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  1. Lynn says

    You got my attention on this one Jennifer and I hope this goes out far and wide.

    The irony of buying products that are the cause of so much pain on so many levels is lost on too many people.

    Let’s support breast cancer research by donating directly to the cause!

  2. Jennifer says

    Or we can volunteer instead of just donating as well. I used to volunteer each year to do the Race for the Cure mailings locally. BORING work, but someone has to do it, so it’s helpful. Actually, I should re-volunteer. I haven’t for a while.

  3. Pink Products says

    I don’t buy pink products because of the donation to a good cause. I buy stuff in pink because I love the color much better! The donation is secondary.
    I just love products in pink! Why would I buy a gray camera when I can get the same in pink? Why would I buy shoes with yellow strips when I can get them with pink stripes. Why a gray stapler for my office when I can get a cute pink one …

  4. Alyssa says

    Hey, I completely agree 100% with you.
    Another fact is, The pink breast cancer ribbon, is actually not corporatly owned therefore any business can put it on their product and make profit, when the customer thinks they are actually helping a cause. But then again, where is all the money going to that we are donating? there is a cure out there at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, but apparently we don’t have enough money to fund it? One business donated a million dollars to the breastcancer foundation for a cure, that’s just one business out of probably thousands others, where is all the money going to???

  5. M.Rose says

    Another important thing to think about is cruelty inherent with inept animal testing in these charities. – Put your money directly to supporting things like organic vegetables, natural/non-toxic products, and charities that support victims or survivors, instead of charities that test harsh toxic drugs on innocent creatures that only further pollute our bodies and the earth. 😉 If more money was raised for naturals/organics/non-gmo products we’d be eliminating the problems at the source.


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