Published on February 16th, 2012 | by Vivian Nelson Melle


Why Environmentalists Care About the Komen Controversy

Susan G. Komen Foundation reports that they are the largest breast cancer organization. For almost 30 years the organization started by Susan G. Brinker has become a model for fundraising but has not gone without its share of controversies. When Komen Foundation decided to halt grants that would take direct aim at Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer care funding recently,  many environmentalists were already miles ahead of the disappointed donators. The idea of allowing psuedo-religious politics to dictate care for those in need irked many environmentalists who for years questioned many Komen-sponsored products.

With some donators wondering where to spend their cancer-fighting donation dollars, it’s important to know where your money really goes and which products have potential cancer links. Having a pink ribbon doesn’t necessarily make it safe.

Here’s a few reasons why environmentalists care about the Komen controversy.

pink lipstick

Pink Lipstick

We Care About Safe Cosmetics

The controversy brought a spotlight to cosmetics along with other personal hygiene products. Avon, Revlon and Estee Lauder are some of the biggest donators to the breast cancer causes, though not to the Komen Foundation. Unfortunately many of their products contain ingredients with possible cancer links including parapbens and pthalates being the most common. While there is still some uncertainty about the cancer-causing potential of these cosmetic additives, greener companies have chosen to go with natural additives instead of potentially risking lives and sign on to the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.  So far Avon, Estee Lauder and Revlon have yet to sign on. What are they waiting for?

{cc photo courtesy of _Frankenstein_ on Flickr}

colorful plastic cups

Colorful plastic cups

We Worry About Plastic

There are still those people who doubt the validity of BPA concerns regarding cancer. Still, companies are moving away from BPA replacing it with BPA-free reusable water bottles and glass baby bottles. Instead of waiting for the health jury’s verdict, why not choose BPA reusable bottles and ease up on Mother Earth? There are way too many pink-ribbon decorated plastic products for sale which supposedly benefit breast cancer research. If you want to support cancer research without risking your own health, Klean Kanteen offers plastic alternatives for the whole family and one special product with some proceeds going to the Breast Cancer Fund, an organization that looks at the relationship between the harm done to the environment and its relationship to breast cancer. It’s a great organization for those looking to advocate for the earth and breast cancer prevention.

{cc photo courtesy of Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden on Flickr}

who wants hormones in their cows?

Who wants hormones in their cows?

No Hormones with My Milk, Thanks

There’s been an interesting side effect from people looking for hormone-free milk, many smaller dairy farms have seen increased business. Since they didn’t use hormones on their cows they were the first choice for locals looking for alternatives to hormone-laded milk. Many also grass feed their girls and some are even organic. As people have shunned the bigger milk companies for smaller local farms these indie farmers have benefited. Yoplait filled their pink ribbon campaign containers with milk from cows injected with rBGH, Bovine Growth Hormone. So even if every pink lid sent in helped raise funds for breast cancer research, the hormones in the yogurt potentially lead to future cases of breast cancer. After a few thousand breast cancer advocates lead a campaign against the pink lid brigade, the company changed to hormone-free milk.

Milking Cancer from Breast Cancer Action on Vimeo.

{cc photo courtesy of Alex E. Proimos on Flickr}

Popular Breast Cancer Walk

Popular Breast Cancer Walk

Breast Cancer Walks and Runs

Many of these races are trying to don the green label, but the truth is they put an undue burden on Mother Earth. While many serious walkers bring their own water bottles to refill, many racers do not offer filling stations and instead give out plastic water and sports drink bottles. Yes, they do try to recycle the water bottles but the act of recycling is not as environmentally conscious as we would like. These races often offer participants food and snacks which all come in individually wrapped servings. That’s a ton of garbage headed for landfills. Even if the boxes are made of recyclable cardboard, you’re looking at a significant increase in waste. If you truly want to help, contact a local oncology department and ask what they need or contact local cancer support groups and see how you can make a difference. Sometimes homemade beanies and lap blankets make the biggest difference for someone going through cancer treatment.

{cc photo courtesy of nathangibbs on Flickr}


 Where do you stand on the Komen controversy? Do you advocate for breast cancer research, prevention or treatment? If so, do you donate time, resources or money?

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About the Author

Vivian Nelson Melle is a writer and life coach helping individuals, families, and businesses thrive. She supports small businesses especially in the areas of Green Living, Health, and Wellness. She can be found at and

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