Picture this. You’re out shopping, scanning the shelves for an all-purpose cleaner, a new blender, or perhaps even soup. You’ve spotted something you want when out of the corner of your eye you see a pink label with the all-too-familiar breast cancer awareness ribbon on it. You’re shocked by the statistic on the promotional label: “1 in 8 women get breast cancer.” You know eight women — in fact, you know 16, 24, or more… So, over twelve percent of them will get breast cancer? You’re sickened at the thought, and as the label claims five percent of the proceeds go to fighting breast cancer, you decide to purchase that product instead.
We’ve all done it, countless times, often without even thinking. Somewhere in our subconscious we associate the little pink ribbon (along with every other awareness ribbon) with something positive. In “supporting the cause” through one-off purchases, regular donations or sponsored events, we feel that we’re doing something to help those who suffer; honour those who have died, and prevent further suffering or death.
This, in its purest form, is pinkwashing.
DIRTY LAUNDRY. PUBLIC DISHONESTz.
Pinkwashing refers to a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon product, while at the same time manufacturing, producing and/or selling a product linked to the disease. Often these companies go so far as to position themselves at the forefront of “fighting breast cancer” and “finding a cure”.
Consider the phrase ‘don’t air your dirty laundry in public’; when companies or organizations engage in pinkwashing it’s a deliberate attempt at the exact opposite. In airing their lone clean item of clothing we hear them shout “hey, look! this beautifully clean underwear is going to help someone!” The result? The public is distracted from, and therefore remains unaware of, their dark and dirty secrets.
Because no one corporation has exclusive use of the pink ribbon, there are dozens of prominent companies and organisations associated with the campaign. In addition to cosmetics and skincare there are those in the alcohol, automotive, biomedical, chemical, dairy, engineering, industrial, and non-profit sectors.
The companies we’re most aware of are those who have adopted the campaign by offering pink ribbon products. Ironically, these are the same ones responsible for creating carcinogenic and toxic products that are linked to causing cancer. The aim of engaging in pinkwashing is to mask this exact fact, and for the most part they succeed. Procter and Gamble is a prime example, producing countless pink ribbon products while their cosmetics and skincare contain 1,4-Dioxane, a petroleum-derived contaminant considered to be carcinogenic.
Then there are the companies who conduct research to find a cure, all of whom have their own agenda because they benefit from breast cancer. Even non-profit organizations wouldn’t exist if an effective cure was found and distributed to the population. The truth is there is a lot of money to be made from capitalising on this disease. One example is Eli Lilly, now the sole manufacturer of rBGH which is an artificial growth hormone that’s linked to breast cancer, who also make breast cancer drugs.
WHERE IS THE GREEN?
For the last decade or so billions of dollars have been donated to pink ribbon campaigns, creating a multi-billion dollar industry. Those who receive this money aren’t making progress in curing breast cancer, but then there is little incentive to do so. Frustratingly there is no transparency over where the money does go, however, reflecting the commercialisation, corporatization and cruel corruption of breast cancer.
All of this is a concern, but so is the fact that little attention is directed to the causes of breast cancer, as well as preventative measures. In fact, the pink ribbon first came about because of this. Charlotte Haley, a grassroots activist whose grandmother, sister and children had all developed breast cancer, created salmon-coloured ribbons which were tied to cards that stated: “the National Cancer Institute annual budget is $1.8 billion; only 5 per cent goes for cancer prevention. Help us wake up our legislators and America by wearing this ribbon.” The fact remains that with money to be made there is absolutely no incentive to educate the population on the causes of cancer or preventative measures, even though some simple suggestions could dramatically reduce the number of people developing the devastating disease. To this day the situation remains the same.
It is also apparently ignored that there are several substances in our environment known to, or likely to, cause cancer. Arsenic is one example; used in glass, herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, and wood preservatives, it is also a general environmental contaminant of air, food, and water. Dioxins on the other hand are an unfortunate product of paper and pulp bleaching, as well as the incineration of hospital, municipal, and toxic waste; but are also found in some insecticides, herbicides, and wood preservatives. In eliminating or reducing the presence of both the health of the environment, as well as that of all living beings, would improve.
BLOOD RED HANDS
The problem doesn’t lie only with breast cancer, however; these days there are almost 50 awareness ribbon colors, most of which are representative of more than one cause. While not all non-profit organisations are as corrupt, there is one notable problem common to all of these movements, and that is “finding a cure” for a disease or illness is a leading excuse for vivisection.
Each year, countless extreme experiments are conducted on non-human animals theoretically to find possible cures. The animals are infected with the disease or have the illness induced, following which the chosen drug or treatment is administered to determine the effects over the course of weeks, months and years. During this time damage to organs, general toxicity, mutagenicity, and reproductive issues are monitored, all of which the animals undeniably end up suffering, and dying, from.
The moral of the story? Support only those organisations who disclose where their funds are allocated; are progressive with their research; and don’t fund animal torture.