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Beware 'Pinkwashing' During Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Pink badge on woman chest to support breat cancer

Oct. 27, 2021 -- Thanks to early detection, breast cancer mortality rates have been declining since 1989. But an estimated 1 in 8 women will still get breast cancer in their lifetime.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, many companies launch programs that tie a portion of retail sales to donations to breast cancer organizations. But not all programs are equal.

The group Breast Cancer Action coined the term “pinkwashing” for companies that make misleading claims about supporting cancer groups. It suggests critical questions to ask before you buy a product with promises of supporting breast cancer. They include:

  1. Does any money from this purchase go to support breast cancer programs? How much?
  2. What organization will get the money? What will they do with the funds, and how do these programs turn the tide of the breast cancer epidemic?
  3. Is there a “cap” on the amount the company will donate? Has this maximum donation already been met? Can you tell?

But there are many companies that make these things more clear. These six companies have launched initiatives to fund research and programs that benefit those affected by breast cancer. Town & Country magazine identified dozens more, as did USA Today.

Supportive care: Victoria’s Secret says it believes that “a comfortable bra is an essential part in the healing journey” for women with breast cancer. The lingerie retailer partnered with designer Stella McCartney to launch a new line of mastectomy bras that feature pockets and frontal closures, making them both practical and pretty. Throughout October, the bras retail for just $10, and 100% of the proceeds go to the Victoria's Secret Global Fund for Women's Cancers to support breast cancer research.

A cup of care:Tea is the ultimate comfort beverage. Sips created a Breast Cancer Awareness Tea Box, a gift box filled with teas like Have Hope and Pinkolicious Oolong Tea that are meant to comfort those affected by breast cancer. The tea subscription service donates $1 from each box to the Susan G. Komen Foundation.

Pedal power: Wearing official Peloton merchandise won’t help you move up the leader board, but it could help women affected by breast cancer. The lifestyle brand launched a line of leggings, hoodies, sports bras, and joggers with a “stronger together” logo as part of its Breast Cancer Awareness Collection. A portion of the proceeds -- up to $30,000 -- from October sales will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.

Fashion forward: From butterfly charms to rose quartz, jeweler Kendra Scott created accessories that make more than just a fashion statement. As part of the Shop Yellow for Pink breast cancer awareness campaign, Scott is donating a portion of sales -- up to $150,000 -- to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and giving one piece of jewelry to a woman affected by breast cancer for each piece sold.

Paint with a purpose: Brighten up a room with a fresh coat of paint. Two new hues, Pink Ribbon Care and Pink Ribbon Support, add a pop of color and evoke a feeling of self-care. Valspar paint released the exclusive colors to raise funds in the fight against breast cancer. Five percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Pink Ribbon Foundation to provide grants to support early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Drink pink: The Red Phone Booth cocktail bar in Atlanta has gone pink for October and added a limited-edition pink cocktail to the menu. Brockmans Hope features Brockmans Gin, crème de framboise, an egg white, Luxardo Cherry Wine, and lime juice, as well as a pink ribbon garnish. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the libation will be donated to nonprofit organizations like the American Cancer Society’s Real Men Wear Pink.

Show Sources

Breast Cancer Action: “4 Questions Before You Buy Pink.”

Town & Country: “Shop Brands Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness and Research This October.”

USA Today: “25 brands giving back for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.”

Radiology: “Breast Cancer Mortality Rates Have Stopped Declining in U.S. Women Younger than 40 Years.”

American Cancer Society: “How Common is Breast Cancer?”

Victoria’s Secret.

Sips by.


Kendra Scott.

Valspar paint.

The Red Phone Booth.

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