I’m no fan of breast cancer. I’ve watched friends and family suffer the emotional roller coaster, the pain and suffering of breast cancer and its treatment.
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With Breast Cancer Awareness month in full swing, I appreciate that the manliest of sports is acknowledging and supporting the disease in stadiums and on countless TVs across the nation. Raising funds for breast cancer research is certainly admirable. But NFL! The pink chin straps, the pink cleats, the pink padding around the goal posts? By commissioning such nonsense, you are contributing to the problem rather than helping to solve it. Plastic products containing bisphenol A (BPA) have been linked to the development of breast cancer. An article in The Atlantic states:
“BPA is everywhere, with the CDC concluding that more than 90 percent of Americans are chronically exposed. Such pervasiveness is, in the words of one of the study’s seven authors, Dr. Frederick vom Saal, “nothing short of insanity.” The University of Missouri endocrinologist also does not hesitate to use the word “scary,” comparing today’s use of BPA to the use of lead in paint a century ago.”
There’s a better way.
Parading around in pink plastic and dressing the football field up like Barbie may give NFL fans the warm fuzzies, but you’ve also just contributed to the body burden of countless men, women, and children. Sure, the NFL plans to auction the apparel worn by the players and donate the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. But is it worth it? Is it worth polluting our environment and our bodies? It just doesn’t make sense to raise funds by auctioning off items that are contributing to the problem in the first place. Rather than adding more chemicals to our world, the NFL would do well to put their efforts toward making a difference environmentally.
- Stop selling bottled water. Instead, offer fans the chance to bring their own stainless steel, BPA-free refillable water bottles and provide filling stations throughout the stadium. And sure, sell team bottles, too – so long as they’re BPA-free.
- Replace the plastic bags at the team shop with paper.
- Serve drinks in paper or biodegradable cups.
- In addition to trash receptacles, offer containers for recycling and composting.
- And for heaven’s sake, stop selling those stupid foam fingers.
Transforming a professional football game into a low-waste, low-BPA event would make a much larger impact on the health of American women than the embarrassment of pink-washing that’s set to go on throughout the NFL in October.
And it’s not just football.
The NFL’s promotion of pink is possibly the most visible, but all across the nation organizers put a lot of work into raising funds and awareness about breast cancer. But the pink acetate ribbons, the pink balloons, the pink feather boas, the pink plastic cups that organizations use to raise money to fight breast cancer? I honor the efforts, I honor the survivors, but for goodness sake, step back for a minute and pay attention.
Depending on where you live and work, you’re likely to be exposed to many plastic products every day. Food and beverage containers, some disposable plates, and toiletry bottles are all plastic and all are made from chemicals. Research suggests that all plastics may leach chemicals if they’re scratched or heated. Research also strongly suggests that at certain exposure levels, some of the chemicals in these products, such as bisphenol A (BPA), may cause cancer in people.
Another potential problem? Phthalates. Phthalates are chemical plasticizers used in the production of many types of plastics, primarily to make plastics softer and/or more pliable. Congress has permanently banned three types of phthalates, with three others banned in specific products (such as children’s products that could be mouthed). [link] The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment added DINP (Diisononyl phthalate, a commonly used phthalate found in vinyl products) to their list of chemicals known to cause cancer. [link]
By contributing to the manufacture of pink plastic products to raise awareness, might we be exacerbating the problem? Instead of hosting hot pink “Save the Ta-Tas” events, why not host zero-waste educational events so people can learn to break free of the plastic habit? Sure it’s idealistic. But it makes sense, doesn’t it?