Avoid “Pinkwashing” This October

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It might be autumn, but instead of being inundated with pumpkin spice tastes and smells, store shelves are lined with everything pink. Just this week I spotted a pink water bottles, pink ribbon earrings and even pink headphones.

That’s because October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month. This annual event is organized by multiple breast cancer charities to increase awareness about the disease. This usually involves events for the public to participate in and fundraisers to help fund cancer research.

According to Breastcancer.org, one in eight U.S. women will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime. An estimated 2,600 new cases of invasive breast cancer is expected to be diagnosed in men in 2016. But there is some good news. Cancer incident and death rates are declining. And that’s why awareness months —like the one taking place right now —are so important.

During this time many companies dedicate a portion of their proceeds to cancer awareness and research, even going as far as creating and selling pink versions of their products. It’s a way to let consumers know that their money is going toward a cancer charity. But just how much of that money is actually going toward helping cancer patients get better?

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There have been reports of companies selling their products with a new pink look in order to convince the buyer the money is going toward a good cause, but actually pocket all the money. This is known as “pinkwashing.”

To make sure donations go to the right place, Better Business Bureau serving the Northwest advises consumers to research pink product claims before making a purchase or getting caught up in the hype.

Take the following steps when purchasing a product for its charity claims:

Be a smart shopper

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Find out what percentage of the sale price will be donated. Most companies put this information on the packaging and even include a link to detail where their donation will go. Don’t assume every organization listed on the box is a tax exempt charity. You may have to dig deeper to determine their status.

Do some research.

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Look into the business you’re purchasing from and the charity they are donating too. There are numerous cancer research charities so do your homework to ensure your buck is being spent in the right place. Be sure to get the charities name and look them up on give.org to see whether they are a reputable charity.

Spend wisely.

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Think about the product you want. Is it something you actually need or do you simply like the pink design? Resist the urge to shop on the spot. Be considerate of your purchase, especially when it is solely to benefit a charity. If you don’t need the product, consider making a donation directly to the charity of your choice.

But, hey, if you really like those pink headphones and you’re sure the money is going toward a trustworthy charity —I say go for it!