Given the choice of two products, I gravitate towards purchasing the item that contributes to a “cause” versus the one that doesn’t. Yogurt, sneakers, make-up, pretty much anything you end up buying now has a certain charity that “benefits” from your purchase. I do it with my rainforest project in Costa Rica and my clothing line, donating a percentage of the sales to fund the daily functions of its protection.
But what are your dollars going to when you buy those little ribboned items?
I came across an organization that brings this question to light. They focus on breast cancer, but really, you can apply these ideas to any charitable cause.
Think Before You Pink™, a project of Breast Cancer Action, launched in 2002 in response to the growing concern about the number of pink ribbon products on the market. The campaign calls for more transparency and accountability by companies that take part in breast cancer fundraising, and encourages consumers to ask critical questions about pink ribbon promotions.
"It is this dynamic that drives the pink ribbon’s detractors to distraction. There is a value to awareness, but awareness of what, and to what end?” asks Barbara Brenner, activist and executive director of Breast Cancer Action (BCA) in San Francisco. “We need changes in the direction the research is going, we need access to care—beyond mammograms—we need to know what is causing the disease, and we need a cure. The pink ribbon is not indicative of any of that."Reprinted from MAMM, June/July 1998
I was really surprised to find out how the beginning of the ribbon revolution actually started. Even more surprised to learn about the hypocrisy of certain cosmetic companies that raise money in the name of breast cancer, but manufacture body care products with known carcinogens or reproductive toxins.
“We have to question our willingness as cancer organizations to get into bed with people whose ultimate goal is profit, not health,” Brenner says. And her point—that corporate benevolence is linked with the appearance of care rather than active solutions—is supported by history. After all, homelessness was the darling corporate cause once, in the years before welfare reform.
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