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A rainbow of awareness ribbons and what each one means

Posted December 6, 2012  |  written by  |  Tips and Trends from the Experts

Do you know the meaning behind each awareness ribbon color?


Has your non-profit organization or charity been looking for a fundraising opportunity? Your cause may fall under one of the variety of awareness ribbon colors. Awareness ribbons have a long history in the United States, but their popularity only continues to grow in recent years – as do the number of colors and the meaning of each. Consider this list of awareness ribbon colors and how these promotional items can help spread word of your charity and cause.

The Meaning of Awareness Ribbons

  • Pink: The pink ribbon has traditionally been associated with breast cancer awareness and its various charities. Groups like Susan G. Komen for the Cure have co-opted the pink ribbon to help spread the word about self-exams, regular mammograms and the importance of early diagnosis.
  • White: The white ribbon has a history of use for a variety of causes and charities. Multiple Hereditary Exostoses, a rare and painful bone condition, has had its awareness campaign centered around white ribbons of support. It has also been used to signify support for lung cancer awareness.
  • Red: Traditionally associated with AIDS awareness, the red ribbon is also often used in schools to symbolize substance abuse and drug violence awareness, and Red Ribbon Week is a regular annual event at most American schools during October.
  • Yellow: One of the more ubiquitous ribbon colors, yellow has primarily garnered support for American military troops serving abroad in the Middle East. However it’s also been used to bring heightened awareness to bone cancer, endometriosis and suicide prevention.
  • Blue: Blue ribbons may have the most versatile of associations, depending on hue and tone. Child abuse awareness, for instance, is symbolized by a solid light blue ribbon. Bullying and harassment victim awareness is usually signified by a blue ribbon more indigo in color. Navy blue in turn is more likely to indicate awareness for human trafficking. Other blues are meant to draw attention to colon cancer awareness, addiction recovery awareness and awareness for the brittle bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta.
  • Purple: Like blue, purple ribbons have a variety or symbols, including suicide prevention and awareness of testicular cancer, animal cruelty, domestic violence, chronic migraines, spirit day (victims of homophobia), pagan pride, cystic fibrosis, Alzheimer’s disease and has even been adopted by the March of Dimes.
  • Green: Green ribbons also fit a host of categories, such as the awareness campaigns for cerebral palsy, celiac disease, Lyme disease, kidney cancer and Tourette’s syndrome. Of course, the green ribbon has also become a classic symbol of Earth Day and environmental protection!
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