The Pinkwasher Strikes Back: Five Deceptive Breast Cancer Awareness Products

It’s Breast Cancer Marketing Month! Yes, that month where cities douse themselves in pink in hopes of curing breast cancer. And they’re totally not trying to make a fast buck off you. Nope! Um, right.

Here’s what’s been sold in stores this year:

1. Mopping For The Cure
For the past few years, Procter & Gamble has sold “limited-edition” pink products during October. These products feature a ribbon with the very positive and true message that “Early Detection Saves Lives,” but upon further examination of the packaging, it’s revealed that no proceeds from the sale of these products will go to breast cancer research, mammograms, awareness or anything else related to breast cancer.

So far I’ve seen the ribbons on the Swiffer and a package of Charmin. To be fair, Procter and Gamble has partnered with the National Breast Cancer Foundation. But that still doesn’t mean buying their products will be as good as making a direct donation to the NBCF.

So, if you like the color pink, buy it. To me it just screams “Look, you’re making a difference! Now, get back in the kitchen and scrub the linoleum.”

2. BubbleWrap For The Cure

Okay, buying pink BubbleWrap won’t necessarily NOT fund Breast Cancer. For every roll of this stuff you buy, Duck Brand will donate a whopping 10 cents to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation up to $75,000. So you don’t know if your purchase is really going to help breast cancer or not. If you’re in need of BubbleWrap, and you like pink, buy it. But also remember that BubbleWrap is extremely difficult to recycle, so use sparingly. I’m about to switch to friendlier ways of packaging things, such as paper.

3. Riveting for the Cure
One of the coolest things about old government propaganda posters is that they are available to the public domain. Take Rosie the Riveter here, who is on this water-bottle cozy wearing a pink bandana, rolling up her sleeves and saying “We can Cure” instead of “We can Do It!” And then there’s a pink ribbon and the word “hope.”

I examined the package, aaaand sure enough – none of this goes to any kind of organization. I also didn’t check to see if these bottles were BPA-free, but nothing on the package indicated as such.

4. Pretzels For The Cure
Palmer’s Candies makes these “Breast Cancer Awareness” Strawberry-flavored pretzels. The package says proceeds from the pretzel sales will go toward breast cancer research; however, no organization is named on the packaging.

I love Pretzels and I’m sure these taste good, but if I’m wanting to fight off cancer I want to know how much and where my pennies are going. 

By the way, did you know that breast cancer isn’t even the most common cause of death in women? It’s heart disease. You know what can contribute to heart disease? Sodium. You know what has a lot of sodium in it? Pretzels.

I googled Palmer’s Candies and couldn’t find anything on ‘em. No web site, nothing. There is another company called Palmer’s that makes skin care products and donates to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. If anybody can find something on these confectioners I’d love to see it. (Update: A friend on Google Plus found the company web site, located at www.palmercandy.com . Still nothing on the web site about what charities this company supports.)

5. Mushrooms for the Cure

A friend of mine sent these to me on Facebook. My only response is – WTF Mushrooms? Really, now? I have nothing against produce; it does a body good, can help fight off certain cancers but you know what? Putting mushrooms in a pink poly-styrene container really isn’t doing anything to help the breast cancer epidemic.

I can’t get across enough the importance of looking at labels before you decide to spend all your money on a bunch of pink crap every October. Women are the BIGGEST consumers in this country. They know we love to shop, and they know we care. A lot of companies do a lot of wonderful things for women, but please, please, please read the fine print. This is madness. Every year I say it has to stop and every year it gets bigger and more obnoxious. Sigh.

For more information on deceptive breast cancer marketing (“pinkwashing,”), visit ThinkBeforeYouPink.Org.

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