BBB advises consumers to beware of 'pinkwashing'

  • Follow Your Business

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and many businesses are marketing pink products and services to support breast cancer charity groups and organizations. But every year, some find a way to take advantage of these good deeds – a practice known as “pinkwashing.” 

In order to make sure donations go to the right place, the Better Business Bureau advises consumers to research pink product claims before making a purchase.

The widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by an agency and does not necessarily mean it promotes breast cancer research and/or charities.

Some products have a pink ribbon in order to indicate that the company supports breast cancer programs even if the company’s contributions are not tied to the purchase of the specific product bearing the ribbon.

While other companies give a portion of an item’s cost to a breast cancer organization, a consumer may need to research the claims in order to know how their donation will benefit the cause.

In some cases, companies will indicate that a portion of the proceeds from the sale of a pink ribbon product will go to support breast cancer programs, but put a “cap” on their maximum donation. 

Once the maximum amount has been met, the company may continue to sell the product with the pink ribbon without alerting customers that no additional funds will be donated to breast cancer organizations.

There are many companies that sell pink products where a portion of the sale price goes directly to the charity the business is supporting. 

While the majority of these efforts are trustworthy, consumers should take the following steps to double check their efforts will go where they are needed:

• Ask questions. Find out what percentage of the sale price will be donated, to which charity, how the funds will be used and if there is a maximum donation amount.

• Research the business. Learn more about the business you’re purchasing from by checking their BBB Business Review at

• Confirm the charity’s corporate partners. Many national breast cancer charities list corporate partners and sponsors on their Web site. Check to make sure the business you’re purchasing from is associated with the charity.

• Use your head, as well as your heart. Think about the product that you are purchasing, is it something that you want or need? 

If the answer is no, then consider making a donation directly to the breast cancer charity of your choice. 

That way you know exactly how much money is going to that charity.

There are many trustworthy charities that provide valuable research and resources for breast cancer victims, survivors and their families.

Continue to support them, just ensure that your intentions are being carried out and don’t fall for sound-alike names.

If you donate online, be sure to print the confirmation page for your records – many donations are tax-deductible.

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