California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

    Think Before You Purchase Pink

    Pinkwashing (adj.): a term coined by the “Think Before You Pink” campaign to describe a company or organization that claims to care about breast cancer by promoting a pink ribbon on products, while at the same time producing, manufacturing and/or selling products linked to the disease.

    It’s October, but you can forget the idea of black and orange as the color combination synonymous with the month. Pink ribbon on products have flooded the shelves of consumer marketplaces, and have become as pervasive as pumpkins and candy.

    As the overload of pink products is shoved in your face this month, do you know where your money and support is going? Is the company from which you are buying that pink jersey transparent enough to tell you if your dollars are going to breast cancer research or directly into the pockets of the CFO?

    While your mothers, sisters, aunts or best friends are fighting for their lives against the disease that affects one in eight women in the U.S., companies and organizations like the NFL are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars decking out their football teams in head-to-toe pink gear, all in the name of “awareness.”

    I’m not convinced this is enough to educate a nation on the disease that, according to, is expected to plague the lives of 316,120 women in 2017 alone.

    According to 2013 data obtained from ESPN’s Sports Business Reporter Darren Rovell via Business Insider, the NFL says it “takes a 25 percent royalty from the wholesale price (1/2 retail), donates 90 percent of royalty to American Cancer Society.”

    This is to say that after the retailer, manufacturer, NFL and American Cancer Society Administration (or ACS) have taken their share, only 8.01 percent of the profit from one pink-ribboned NFL product goes toward breast cancer research.

    That is not enough to make a difference in the lives of those affected.

    According to the same report by Business Insider, the NFL uses the money that is not donated to the ACS to cover the cost of their breast cancer awareness campaign.

    Additionally, TIME Magazine’s Money Reporter Kerri Renzulli said that sales of a product sometimes “don’t have any impact on a company’s giving as the firm has already set a cap on its donation amount.”

    The NFL reported having donated $1 million to the ACS in the first three years of the campaign.

    If organizations such as the NFL have to take a certain amount of the proceeds from a pink-ribboned product in order to cover the cost of the month long campaign, it doesn’t matter how much pink merchandise you buy because less than a tenth of the proceeds are actually going to fund breast cancer research.

    This is not to say that everyone who enjoys watching professional football needs to boycott the league and all its products. It is much more simple than that.

    Bri Pinal, a senior forward on the California Lutheran University women’s soccer team, said the Regals honor breast cancer fighters and survivors each season by wearing pink accessories such as headbands and hair bows.

    The twist? Each pink item was purchased from non-pinkwashing companies with money out of their own pockets.

    “It’s important for universities to participate in [Breast Cancer Awareness Month], but also provide more information about the cause. That way, more athletes know what they’re participating in rather than just think they are obligated to wear pink because it’s October,” Pinal said.

    Sports organizations like the NFL need to stop capitalizing off of Breast Cancer Awareness Month by selling pink products whose proceeds do not go directly to breast cancer research.

    We need to be more conscious about who we are giving our money to. If you want to support breast cancer research, give directly to a nonprofit breast cancer organization that is transparent enough to answer all of your questions about it.

    If you want to support prevention research, TIME Magazine identified the California Breast Cancer Research Program as one of the top state-funded foundations that fights to prevent the disease. Ninety-five percent of its revenue goes toward cancer education and research.

    Ask questions, do your own research and give directly. Your mothers, sisters and aunts will thank you later.

    Olivia Schouten