I took a field trip this morning. I headed to Safeway to grab some photos of pink ribbons donning products from potato chips to soup labels. But guess what, I didn’t see ANY!
Honestly, I was surprised! Just the other day we were watching a football game and the players were wearing pink gloves, so I expected to see the usual Pinktober advertising all over Safeway.
Pink is synonymous with October and in the past, companies have used the well-known pink ribbon to advertise and provide funds for various breast cancer awareness organizations. I’m guessing the controversy around the Komen foundation and the Think Before You Pink campaign are making an impact.
Pinktober has long been a controversial topic. In 1985, October was named National Breast Cancer Awareness Month when the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca partnered together to promote mammography as the most effective method for detecting breast cancer. Can you see the controversy here? A pharmaceutical company benefiting from increased detection of the disease they treat. But, we do know that awareness is important because early detection is key in treatment.
Then in 1993, Evelyn Lauder, of Estee Lauder corporation, founded the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the iconic pink ribbon. Estee Lauder is the parent company of many brands. From the not as bad, yet still greenwashing, Aveda and Origins, to more traditional hair, body, and makeup lines like Bobby Brown, MAC, and Bumble and Bumble. As an advocate for toxin free living, I have a hard time with the pink ribbon coming from a company that produces and sells products with ingredients that are known carcinogens.
“I’m personally annoyed with big name companies that use the pink ribbon on their products. They are claiming to support the prevention of breast cancer yet their products don’t and they include ingredients that are cancer causing....very hypocritical. I actually avoid those products with the “pink washing” label on it.” - Paula, breast cancer surviror
So that’s the not so great history of Pinktober.
There are some much better options if you’d like to participate in Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
A friend of mine, founded The Mayday Foundation to help support families and help ease the financial burden of cancer. I choose to support The Mayday Foundation with a monthly donation because I know their funds directly impact local families who are financially struggling during cancer treatment.
When I asked how she felt about Pinktober, she suggested some unique ideas to support cancer patients. Her suggestions include:
Make a donation directly to a non-profit organization focused on helping patients deal with a devastating cancer diagnosis. For example, The Mayday Foundation focuses on patient support, not awareness.
Support metastatic breast cancer research: Metastatic breast cancer receives less attention and funding than early-stage breast cancer. Help fund research projects focused on a cure, like StandUpToCancer.
Participate in a study: Researchers need women (and men) who have not been diagnosed with breast cancer for their studies. To learn more about finding a clinical trial, start with this NIH National Cancer Institute website.
Donate Your Hair: Review guidelines before cutting your hair. To learn more about hair donations, visit cancer.net.
Drive a Cancer Patient: Even the best care can’t help someone if they can’t get to a treatment facility. Sign up to be a driver through American Cancer Society’s Road to Recovery. You pick the hours based on your schedule so it’s a flexible option if you have some free time.
Another organization that I follow and support, no matter what month it is, is the Breast Cancer Prevention Partners.
Just as their name says, they are focused on preventing breast cancer. They do this through advocating for policy change around toxic chemicals and radiation, and educate about reducing exposure through public campaigns and research. If you’d like to donate, I have a fundraising campaign going this month, please type Megan Mikkelsen so I can thank you for your donation.
Earlier this year I had the chance to hear from one of their staff about their advocacy work around environmental health and regulations in the cosmetic industry. You know how passionate I am about this topic! I suggest you check out their website and all the education they provide to support removing toxins from our environment and the products we use.
Oh, and by the way! I created a new resource for you! Check out my Safe Swap Guide to learn how and why to detox your home and life.