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3 Causes to Consider on October 31: Nestlé-Free, UNICEF, Movember

October 31st isn't just Halloween. It is also a date for thinking about and participating in three important causes. In our house, we'll be participating in all three and I'd love it if you would consider joining us on one, two or three of these paths.

#NoNestle: Nestlé-Free Week (October 31 to November 5, 2011)

Each year Baby Milk Action coordinates the International Nestlé-Free Week. It is intended as a time for people who already boycott Nestlé to do more to promote the boycott and for those who don't boycott to give it a try. On its blog, Baby Milk Action wrote:
The main target of the boycott is Nescafé coffee. If you only boycott Nescafé, try giving all Nestlé products a miss for this week. If you don't boycott because you don't want to miss out on a Nestlé brand, try it for this week. In some countries 31 October is marked as Halloween when sweets/candies are given to children - this provides a great opportunity to explain why you won't be buying Nestlé confectionery.

You can read more about Nestlé-free week and some of their initiatives, including a photo contest, on Baby Milk Action's blog post.

If you are hearing about this for the first time or if you need a reminder about why to consider boycotting Nestlé, check out my blog post on Nestlé's unethical business practices. If you need ideas for Halloween treats that are not from Nestlé, check out these great posts:

UNICEF and the Orange Box

Since 1950, children have been wearing orange boxes around their neck as they head out trick or treating on Halloween. I remember wearing one as a child.  and this Friday, my kids brought home their boxes from school. When they head out on Monday, they will be wearing their boxes around their neck so that households who want to add a few pennies to their box can do so (correction: the boxes they brought home, which look just like the ones UNICEF used to use, are actually for another charity).

I think that the UNICEF boxes are a great way to get kids involved in fundraising for important causes from a young age. This year UNICEF is trying to raise $2 million to provide educational resources for 5 million children around the world.

In addition to the orange boxes handed out at schools in some countries, UNICEF has also created a virtual option. This is great for families that are homeschooling or that don't do traditional trick or treating. Canadians can go to the UNICEF Canada Make October Count for Kids Page to learn about making a donation, collecting donations via a virtual box, or helping to spread the word. People in other countries can go to the UNICEF.org page on Halloween Fundraising to find the links for their own country.

Movember: Raising Money and Awareness for Prostate Cancer

On October 31, a group of men, including my partner, will be shaving their upper lip for the last time until December. Commenting on the calendar of the months to come, my kids have been saying "first it's Halloween, then it's Daddy grows a moustache, then its Christmas." Wondering what this is all about? Welcome to Movember -- the worldwide initiative to raise awareness about prostate cancer and money for prostate cancer research.

On the Movember website, they break down some of the stats:
Movember's primary campaign objective is to raise awareness of men's health issues, specifically cancers affecting men. We want everyone to know that most cancers are highly curable if caught in the early stages - including prostate and testicular cancer. Movember aims to increase early detection, diagnosis and effective treatment, as this will ultimately reduce the number of deaths from cancer. It’s time men face the startling health facts.

The Stats

  • There are 177,800 new cases of cancer and 75,000 cancer deaths expected in Canada in 2011.

  • The average life expectancy for men is five years less than women (presently 78 years old compared to 83).

  • In 2011 there will be more cases of prostate cancer diagnosed than breast cancer.

  • After prostate cancer lung is the most common cancer in Canada.

  • 5% more men will develop cancer during their lifetimes in Canada than women.

  • Incident rates of cancer are highest in the Maritime provinces and Quebec.

  • After cancer the leading cause of death in men is heart disease.

  • Approximately 93,000 Canadian men will be diagnosed with cancer, and an estimated 39,900 men will die of cancer.

  • On average, 11 Canadian men will die of prostate cancer every day.

  • Testicular Cancer is the most common cancer in young men in Canada between the ages of 15-29.

  • Among Canadians of all ages 4 out of every 5 suicides are male.

Canada's New Democratic Party Leader Jack Layton fought and beat prostate cancer but was sadly unable to beat a second type of cancer. While he was still with us, Jack was a big supporter of prostate cancer awareness programs and I expect there will be a lot of men supporting a Layton-style moustache this November in his memory. Layton photo credit: Matt Jiggins on Flickr

Last year, my friend Rebecca's husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. A year later, having gone through treatment, he is doing really well. Her family's ordeal helped raise awareness in Ottawa and beyond about the need to see a doctor and get tested, even at a younger age (her husband was 36 when he was diagnosed).

I hope you'll all support the Movember movement in your country and maybe try to convince a guy in your life to participate or, at least, to see a doctor every once in a while. It could save his life.

Which causes are you supporting?

Are you getting behind one, two or three of these causes? Are there other causes that are incredibly important to you and your family right now? Our family has recently made donations for the famine in Africa and will continue to do so and as we approach the Christmas season, we'll continue to support local charities like the food bank, snowsuit fund, toy mountain and other organizations that help out low income families during the holiday season and the cold winter.
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Reader Comments (8)

Thanks for your thoughts. We are doing a pretty good job with the nestle free. Started with just halloween 2 years ago, but now it is almost all out of our lives.

Having a hard time with UNICEF though. Last time I personally donated a larger sum (for me to one charity, but still just $100) the in-your-face phone calls to solicit more were unbearable. The email I could shut down, but the saleslady on the phone was overwhelming. I hate to see part of the donation going to pushy phone campaigns. Makes me turn to other charities that don't do this, but do good with the $. Sad really, though, since I also have fond memories of the box, and volunteering my childhood time to roll up the coins collected.

October 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNicole

Im supporting The Girl Effect this October. Just a little donation goes for far. Girls rock and they can change the world!


October 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLisaleh

Movember originated in Australia, where it supports both prostate cancer research and a mental health charity. However, the mental health charity it supports, Beyond Blue, has become controversial, with allegations of bullying of staff and staff having stress-related mental health problems, and the chairman's opposition to children being raised in same gender relationships.

Some long-time Australian Movember supporters are choosing not to participate. See Adrian Hempel's open letter.

October 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Thank you for linking to my post, Annie. You've been a great resource & inspiration for learning more about Nestle.

I have fond memories of Trick-or-Treating for Unicef as a kid. My kiddos will be helping out this year as well, even though the boxes weren't given out at their school. On Unicef's site I was able to download a wrapper which we'll paste around a can for collecting coins on Halloween (it even includes the cellphone barcode scan so people can donate without coins) - woo hoo! The direct link for the printable wrapper is found here (US site): http://youth.unicefusa.org/assets/pdf/tot-resource-center-/2010-tot-canister-wrap.pdf

October 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkelly @kellynaturally

I never realized the UNICEF boxes made such a difference. I will have to research how much of the money UNICEF is actually putting toward the cause itself - many charities are really bad at 'budgeting' properly and, in my opinion, waste too much of the donations on glossy junk mail.

Of all the research we have done on charities here in Canada, Doctors without Borders takes the top prize for using the donated funds most efficiently.

October 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJavamom

We are a Nestle free house, but this is the time of the year that I rally support for the cause. I convinced my mom not to buy any Nestle chocolates for Halloween this year... a hard thing to do because they are so dominant in the market.
My hubby is also participating in Movember this year. So, I'm pretty proud of him too.
It feels great to get involved in these causes. Makes me feel less powerless to the troubles of the world.

October 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNadia

My pregnancy with my first child was awful. Everything that could possibly to wrong did. The birth was even worse, we are both lucky to have come out of it alive. I was physically broken and emotionally a mess. To top it all off, the baby had a tongue-tie that made breastfeeding extremely painful. After all we'd both been through, I didn't have the strength to have it clipped. The formula samples from the hospital made the baby scream with belly pain. The psychologist that I was seeing for PTSD from the birth suggested that Nestle was easier to digest. It worked. The baby was happy and fed. I could heal my body and spirit and try to form a bond with the baby. Today, she's a happy, healthy and extremely smart six-year-old. I'm not sure we'd be there without Nestle. I'm not sure I would have made it through as intact as I did. It makes me so sad to read so much formula negativity. Yes, I agree, breastfeeding is best, but formula saves lives when breastfeeding just isn't working.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarolynn


People often confuse criticizing the business practices of formula companies with saying that formula should be banned. I agree that formula is useful and even life saving in some circumstances. I do not, however, think that formula companies should be able to attempt to sabotage mothers who have chosen to breastfeed.

November 2, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

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