Climate, The Environment & Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Do Something Wednesdays


We are all connected to a friend, mother, sister, aunt or daughter with breast cancer. Each October, we are reminded by many sources about the disease and the need to strive for a cure. Take a few minutes now, for those you love and who have or are battling with this disease, and learn more about the connection between breast cancer and our planet’s health and what you can DO to educate yourself and others and help create the changes we need to strive for a cure. In this special guest post, Michaelanne Petrella, from our partner Plastic Antidote helps us separate fact from fiction, access some great resources, and helps us “connect the dots,” and see that similar to our quest for climate change solutions – individual actions are important, but they aren’t enough – we need big picture solutions and actions on breast cancer.

The Facts, Practical Tips and Big Picture Solutions: by Michaelanne Petrella

Breast Cancer Awareness Month is an annual health campaign that is promoted every October to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds. However, heavy criticism comes with this campaign, and for good reasons. Let’s look at some questions raised by this initiative and some links between the planet’s health and our own, but then more importantly, let’s look at some practical tips and big picture solutions.

Criticism One: Awareness

“This is marketing by emotional hijacking.” -Angela Wall, a spokesperson for Breast Cancer Action (source: The Globe and Mail)

While some donations go directly to research for a cure, much of what is generated goes toward awareness campaigns, and donations to organizations that create awareness campaigns. Many argue that if people spent as much time on awareness campaigns as they do curing breast cancer, it would have been cured by now. Or, if we spent as much time on prevention, we wouldn’t need to spend as much time and money on a cure. Which brings us to the next criticism.

Criticism Two: Cure Over Prevention?

They say that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so why is there a disproportional amount of emphasis being place on a cure? Natural News has a documented theory:

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

“Most people are unaware that the [Breast Cancer Awareness Month] idea was conceived and paid for by the British chemical company Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI), a company that both profited from the ever-growing cancer epidemic and contributed to its causes. The American subsidiary of Imperial Chemical Industries, ICI/Astra-Zeneca, manufactures tamoxifen, the world`s top-selling cancer drug used for breast cancer. ICI itself is in the business of manufacturing and selling synthetic chemicals and is one of the world’s largest producers and users of chlorine.”

“Although BCAM was co-founded along with two non-profit organizations and although some big name companies were quick to associate with BCAM, for the first several years, BCAM`s bills were paid by ICI’s Zeneca Pharmaceuticals.” (source:

Criticism Three: Pinkwashing and Plastic Crap

How many pink ribbon products have you seen recently? What does the ribbon mean? Is there any set definition of what that symbol embodies? It turns out, the pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by anyone.

“Any company can put a pink ribbon on its products. The widely recognized pink ribbon symbol is not regulated by any agency and does not necessarily mean it effectively combats the breast cancer epidemic.” (source:

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Secondly, pink ribbons have been criticised for promoting overconsumption and redundant purchasing. Many survivors are furious at the inundation of “awareness” products, suggesting that companies are profiting off of disease by encouraging overconsumption.

“Online, scores of cancer survivors express downright hostility at Pink October. We’re awash in it: from food, cars and motorcycle helmets to pink cleats on football players and pink-clad models (Elizabeth Hurley tweeted last month that she needed 22 pink dresses for her fundraising appearances). The Parliament buildings in Ottawa were doused in pink. At a recent Nascar rally, the crowd chanted, Go Pink or Go Home! (source: The Globe and Mail)

Finally, many of these pink ribbon products promote early detection of breast cancer. However, these companies are often elusive about discussing toxic chemicals in their own products, and many industries are all too eager to slap a pink ribbon on something they produce that may even be a direct cause of breast cancer. Apparently, this can also happen within the breast cancer awareness community.

Breast Cancer Action writes:

“In 2011, Susan G. Komen for the Cure commissioned a perfume called Promise Me that contains unlisted chemicals that are regulated as toxic and hazardous, have not been adequately evaluated for human safety, and have demonstrated negative health effects. Although Komen says they will reformulate future versions of the perfume, without official adoption of the precautionary principle, there is no guarantee that future versions would be better.” (source: ThinkBeforeYouPink)

So, you might be sitting there thinking, “Wow, I bought all this pink ribbon stuff and now I am conflicted.” Don’t be. If the pink ribbon itself makes you feel good, and gives you a chance to strike up conversations about prevention tips, and chemicals in plastic, then don’t sweat it. Just make sure you aren’t buying products with pink ribbons that do any of the following:

1) Are toxic, or may be toxic due to undisclosed chemical additives.
2) Contribute fruitless donations to pinkwashers, or no donation at all.
3) Pretend to be a safe product but just happen to like the color pink.
4) Are plastic junk.
5) Is something you already own.
6) Is something you do not need.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Our consumption rates are creating a cancerous effect on the Earth, as well. We are creating masses of garbage that cannot be removed, biodegraded, nor recycled enough to erase them. It’s not just a metaphorical link either. We are consuming and discarding at such a high rate that we are putting chemicals into the food chain that bioaccumulate, we are manufacturing plastic at great expense to the safety of our air, and we are ending up with a product that is linked to breast cancer. Chemicals and environmental factors, including home environments, are creating exponential rates of exposure. It’s not just one product – it’s the combination of everything we’re producing in our world. We are putting masses of plastic pollution into the Earth, and then we are ingesting, breathing, eating, swimming, and living amongst it. We must change our habits of consumption for the health of the planet and its people.


Breast Cancer Fund How can you separate the truth from the spin? The real advocates from the corporate shills? Visit our friends over at Breast Cancer Fund where they focus on practical tips for prevention, products to avoid, safer cosmetics, and a true outlet of support. And their awareness campaigns directly promote prevention, not just early detection like many pink ribbon products.

The Breast Cancer Fund has launched a market campaign to get BPA—an estrogenic chemical linked in lab studies to increased breast cancer risk—out of canned foods. In partnership with our Advisory Committee, Cans Not Cancer aims to convince canned food manufacturers to replace BPA in their cans with a safe alternative that’s not linked to disease. (source:

Visit the Plastic Antidote On-line Store:

If you already have purchased our cool reusables from our online store, please don’t buy more. (Great tagline for a store, right?) We don’t encourage buying more just to support us (although we do appreciate the gesture) but a direct donation or membership is better than overconsumption in the name of a cause. This store is meant to be a source for people looking to change their consumptions habits, avoid toxic chemicals, and educate themselves. And, in the spirit of this post, we would like to say that funds from our store go to our projects that help to eliminate disposable plastic from homes, school campuses, workplaces, and towns. And our products are 100% safe. No pink ribbon necessary.

Big Picture Solutions from Breast Cancer Fund “At the Breast Cancer Fund, we know that there are things each of us can do every day to reduce our personal breast cancer risk. We also know that individual action is not enough. That’s why we’re working on big-picture solutions. We’re working to transform how we think about and use chemicals and radiation in order to reduce breast cancer risk and sustain life. We are finding solutions today so our children, grandchildren and planet thrive tomorrow. Working together, we can achieve changes that will protect our health and prevent breast cancer”. (source:

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