Big Issues

The pink ribbon problem: why pink and green shouldn’t clash

September 28, 2012

You’re busy, I’m busy, we’re all busy. Which is why it’s kind of nice when a company saves us all a little time and donates to a charity in our names. You know, like a shampoo giving $1 to the breast cancer. What could be wrong with that?

If you’ve seen the film Pink Ribbons, Inc. you know there’s a dark side to the pretty pink sash. Who really benefits from the whole thing? How much are they actually giving to charity in exchange for all that warm and tingly PR, not to mention the boosts in sales? And what the hell is lurking in these products anyway? Should a pink ribbon product contain ingredients that may be harmful to the workers who make them, the people who use them or fish downstream? Those are questions I get to in this week’s Ecoholic column. By the way, in the column I mention Dole’s pink ribbon produce and the health problems faced by workers growing Dole fruit…If you want to know more about this you’ve gotta watch Bananas!*On Trial For Malice.

The fundamental question is, is there any true altruism anymore? It’s one Donna Sheehan, founder of the Canadian Breast Cancer Support Fund, asks. Her charity raises money for financially challenged women fighting breast cancer. It also challenges us to change the conversation around breast cancer.

“We want to talk about prevention,” says Donna, “rather than the millions spent on raising awarenesss because what does that really mean?” What does it mean? What we do know is that less than 10% of breast cancer funds go towards prevention. Hence CBCSF’s mission of spreading the ‘think pink live green’  mantra.

Out of Quebec, Breast Cancer Action Montreal is pushing a similar message. They’ll be coming out with a pretty poignant Little Pink Lies campaign any day now. In the meantime, sign their super important petition demanding that Health Canada legislate our Community Right To Know what crap is hiding in our everyday products. Like California, we really should have labels that say:  Warning: This Product Contains An Ingredient Known to Cause Cancer.

Wouldn’t life be just that little bit easier if product labels told us when they were bad for us? I know some Californians have told me you start to tune out these warnings when they’re everywhere, and, hey, maybe a lot of people would, but at least we’d be informed. And we could spot a cancer-causing ingredient a mile away. Forget the pink shampoo, now that would be an awesome gift to get from the feds for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.