It’s difficult to leave the house these days without being swept into a massive sea of pink.
No, there hasn’t been a hazardous waste spill that has painted small towns and metropolitan areas alike in neons and pastel shades of the color. As I’m sure you have quickly discovered, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the efforts to promote women’s health by painting the world pink are in full swing.
My guess is that over the next several weeks, you will probably find yourself buying something with a breast cancer awareness theme, whether it’s a mug with a pink ribbon painted along its handle, or a t-shirt with the famous symbol sewn across its chest. Especially because my own mom is currently fighting breast cancer, I hope that you will find some way to support the cause, but there are a few things you need to think about before you do.
I recently wrote this article for Rags Exchange about the importance of critical consumerism when buying merchandise that is labeled as supporting any worthy effort. While it’s unfortunate that we as consumers must invest time in researching where our money actually goes when we think we’re giving it to a charitable cause, there are unfortunately greedy manufacturers out there who will embroider a pink ribbon onto something in hopes that it will boost their profits, with no intention of using much- if any- of the proceeds to actually support research or awareness efforts.
While I would encourage you to read my Rags Exchange article in its entirety so you can learn more about how to be critically aware of the games many cause merchandisers play, I did some of the grunt work and found five excellent campaigns that actually follow through and use the proceeds from pink merchandise to support the fight against a disease that 1.6 million people are expected to learn they have this year.
What saddens me is that it took over an hour of reading through a variety of websites before I could locate just five campaigns that legitimately donate a generous amount of the profits they make on cause merchandise to awareness and research efforts. If you begin to look at the fine print, you will be flabbergasted to find that mass merchandisers like Caribou Coffee, Vera Bradley, and Philosophy donate 10% or less of their profits to actually making a difference in the fight.
As you scour stores for the perfect pink ribbon merchandise this October, I encourage you to be a smart consumer and pay attention to how much of the proceeds actually benefit those who have been personally touched by breast cancer.
Here is an excellent list of questions from Think Before You Pink to consider before you purchase any sort of cause merchandise, whether it be in honor of breast cancer or some other philanthropic effort.
If you don’t have the time to devote to reading the fine print, you are safe in buying this month’s dose of pink from the following campaigns:
Since 2010, Kohl’s has annually released a line of pink products that go to support both the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the American Cancer Society. While last year’s line featured designs from Jennifer Lopez and Lauren Conrad, this year’s array of products is focused on promoting women’s fitness with activewear from Tek Gear. From headbands to workout tees, everything in the Kohl’s Cares collection falls between $5 and $10, with all net proceeds going to directly support efforts to raise awareness and fight breast cancer.
While the line is available almost exclusively online, most Kohl’s locations in Wisconsin have made these products available in their stores.
I’m honestly not much of a sports fan, but Chris more than compensates for any lack of enthusiasm on my part when it comes to the NFL. It was he who first introduced me to the NFL’s breast cancer campaign, cleverly titled “A Crucial Catch,” when he brought home a Carolina Panthers tee featuring the pink ribbon a couple of years ago.
The NFL receives no profits from their huge line of pink products and instead uses 100% of the proceeds they raise to support programs they have initiated through a longstanding partnership with The American Cancer Society.
And what about the pink items you see on the field on game days? The pink jerseys, helmets, etc. that players wear during games and practice sessions during the month of October are auctioned off at the end of the month, with all proceeds going to support efforts to raise awareness and fight breast cancer. You can check out the items that are already being auctioned off by clicking here, but note that the number of items on the auction block will rise as the month progresses!
While Estee Lauder is a globally recognized name, fewer are familiar with the name Evelyn Lauder. Evelyn, who passed away in 2011, was not just Estee’s daughter-in-law; she was also a huge advocate for breast cancer research and awareness, and she is credited as being one of the people responsible for generating the original concept of the pink ribbon.
100% of the suggested retail price of the Pink Ribbon “pleasures” Solid Perfume Metal Compact goes directly to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. While I was disappointed to learn that only 20% of the proceeds of the rest of the Dream Collection items will be donated to the BCRF, I found it refreshing that the company prominently displayed this information on their website. It often takes too much sleuthing to distinguish the percentage of proceeds actually going to support research and awareness efforts.
Avon is one of the biggest proponents of women’s health and breast cancer awareness, so it’s really no surprise that they donate 100% of their net proceeds to supporting their foundation’s efforts to eradicate breast cancer, including the famous Avon Walk for Breast Cancer that annually takes place in countless cities across the United States.
The variety of merchandise at all price points makes it possible for anyone to make a difference. Ranging from $5 to $50, their online store includes everything from pink ribbon flip-flops to giant pink gym bags! One word of advice is to make sure that you restrict your purchases to those from the sections of their website labeled as Avon Walk Merchandise and Pink Ribbon Products. It’s important to remember that while they have made a huge impact on the women’s health community, Avon is a for-profit company, so not everything they sell will benefit cancer research.
Ann Taylor Loft has an interesting promotion running that benefits both those who have been personally touched by breast cancer and those who love their merchandise. For the entire month of October, you can purchase a Loft Cares gift card for a minimum of $25 and use it towards any purchase in the store. 90% of the card’s purchase price will be directly donated to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
As an added bonus, If your total Loft order is $100 or more, you can earn an additional 20% off the merchandise you purchase with the card. Unfortunately, this campaign works in stores only and cannot be purchased or used online. The good news is that Loft employees are especially helpful about ordering items that may be out of stock in your size from the store, so you shouldn’t have to miss out on anything you love simply because online ordering isn’t available with this campaign.
What are some of your favorite cause merchandisers or charitable organizations that truly make an impact with the money they raise? While the fight against breast cancer is a cause that is very personal to me, feel free to share your thoughts on organizations and companies that do their best to help other causes, as well!