This month the stores are filled with more pink than an elementary school girl’s bedroom. I have nothing against the color pink, it is actually a color that I enjoy. I have nothing against supporting the fight against breast cancer and better yet, preventing it. What makes me sick to my stomach is the deceptive marketing that is blasting pink colored products in every direction during the month of October. I am talking about the practice now know as pinkwashing.
What is pinkwashing? It is a marketing scheme that taps into the emotional desire to do something about breast cancer and in effect gets us to buy a product with a pink ribbon, pink packaging, or in a pink bottle. What is the problem with all of this pink? As Breast Cancer Action so perfectly states, most people aren’t in the frame of mind to “Think Before You Pink.” The reason we need to stop and think is that our good intentions may be contributing little if no money towards preventing breast cancer, and might actually be supporting the disease itself.
With the impulse to buy that next pink frying pan or hair brush, ask a few questions:
- How much money actually goes towards breast cancer programs and services?
- What do these programs look like?
- Where is the money going?
- What is the company doing to assure the public that their products aren’t actually contributing to the breast cancer epidemic?
I recently encountered a pinkwashing marketing campaign by Proctor and Gamble. They have wrapped beauty, giving back and cancer causing chemicals all up in a pink ribbon. Herbal Essence Color Me Happy Shampoo and Conditioner, Olay Ribbons body wash and Gillette Venus Spa Breeze razors are all bright pink this month for breast cancer awareness. Their marketing department has chosen to present these pink products to us with the slogans, “Giving is beautiful” and “There’s beauty in giving back.” What they fail to include is that according to the Environmental Working Group’s report, these products “give” us a toxic cocktail of cancer causing chemicals.
The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database reviewed the ingredients in Clairol Herbal Essences Color Me Happy Shampoo. In its ingredient list they identified certain ingredients linked to cancer contaminants such as cocamidoprophyl betaine. Olay Body Wash Plus Lotion Ribbons didn’t fair much better with ingredients like DMDM Hydantoin, linked to formaldehyde contamination, and PEG-90M linked to organ and developmental toxicity. Fragrance also listed as an ingredient in these products is a “trade secret” ingredient that can include many undisclosed hazards and often has been shown to contain phthalates, a hormone disruptor that mimics estrogen.
The bottom line is when buying a product in support of breast cancer prevention, make sure that it is part of the solution and not contributing to the breast cancer epidemic. Don’t be fooled into thinking that the color pink equates corporate responsibility or charity. In honor of those who have died from breast cancer and in support of those who are battling a brave fight this very day, let’s all think before we pink this month and be part of the solution.
To find out what is in other pink personal care products go to the Skin Deep Database at http://www.cosmeticsdatabase.com/
To find out more about the Think Before You Pink campaign and Breast Cancer Action visit http://thinkbeforeyoupink.org/
To find personal care products free of cancer causing ingredients go to http://betterchoices.mionegroup.com/