There are a lot of awareness ribbons — trust us, we spent a lot of time putting together this list — and it can be challenging to know which colors are associated with which causes. 

Fortunately, we’ve got your back. At Good Good Good we’re all about celebrating the good being done in the world — and helping people make a difference in the world

And bringing awareness to important issues is a part of both of those.

We’ve compiled a list (the most complete list on the internet, we believe) of awareness ribbon colors and their meanings — and at the end of this article we’ve also included details on how to use awareness ribbons, a history of awareness ribbons, and details on if they’re an effective way to build awareness.

Awareness Ribbon Colors and Meanings —

Purple, pink, orange, and yellow awareness ribbons

Blue Ribbons

Blue

Blue Awareness Ribbon
  • Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome
  • ACLU
  • Alopecia
  • Anal Cancer
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Anti-Bullying
  • Apraxia
  • Arthritis
  • Autism
  • Brachial Plexus Injuries
  • Children’s Healthy Weight
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Colon Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Crime Victims’ Rights
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Cru du Chat Syndrome
  • Drowning Awareness
  • Drunk Driving
  • Dysautonomia
  • Dystonia
  • Education
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Familial Polyposis
  • Foster Care Awareness
  • Free Speech
  • Guillain Barre Syndrome
  • Histiocytosis
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Hurricanes
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Ichthyosis
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Juvenile Arthritis
  • Juvenile Dermatomyositis
  • Krabbe Disease
  • Langerhans Cell Histiocytosis
  • Leukodystrophies
  • ME/CFIDS
  • Myositis
  • Osteogenesis Imperfecta
  • Pompe Disease
  • Prevent School Violence
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Save the Music
  • Say No To Female Genital Mutilation
  • Stevens-Johnson Syndrome
  • Teens Against Smoking
  • Transverse Myelitis
  • Usher’s Syndrome
  • Victim’s Rights
  • Victims of Hurricane Katrina
  • Water Accidents
  • Water Quality
  • Water Safety
  • West Nile Virus

Light Blue

  • Addison’s Disease
  • DiGeorge Sequence
  • Chronic Illness
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Klinefelter’s Syndrome
  • Cushing Syndrome
  • Trisomy 18
  • Lymphedema
  • Men’s Health
  • Graves’ Disease
  • Hyperaldosteronism
  • Behcet’s Disease
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Pro Choice
  • Shprintzen Syndrome
  • Spay or Neuter Pets
  • Scleroderma
  • Thyroid Disease
  • Velo-Cardio-Facial Syndrome

Dark Blue

  • Arthritis
  • Child Abuse Prevention
  • Colon Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer

Navy Blue

Navy Awareness Ribbon
  • Alopecia
  • ARDS
  • Child Abuse
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Colitis
  • Colon Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer
  • Crime Victims’ Rights
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Death of Police Officer on Duty
  • Drowning
  • Education
  • Epstein-Barr Virus
  • Erb’s Palsy
  • Free Speech
  • Guillain Barre Syndrome
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • Mastocytosis
  • Rectal Cancer
  • Restless Legs Syndrome
  • Teens Against Smoking
  • Victims’ Rights
  • Water Accidents
  • Water Quality and Water Safety

Pale Blue

  • Achalasia Disease

Denim

  • Hereditary & Genetic Diseases
  • Jeans for Genes

Periwinkle

  • Acid Reflux
  • Anorexia Nervosa
  • Bulimia Nervosa
  • Eating Disorders
  • Eosinophilic Disorders
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Gastric Cancer
  • Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD)
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
  • Pulmonary Hypertension
  • Small Intestine Cancer
  • Stomach Cancer

Robin’s Egg Blue

  • Pierre Robin Syndrome

Royal Blue

  • Child Abuse Awareness
  • Syringomyelia
  • Transverse Myelitis

Teal

Teal Awareness Ribbon
  • Agoraphobia
  • Anxiety Disorder
  • Batten Disease
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Chiari Malformation
  • Compulsive Disorder
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder
  • Ectodermal Dysphasia
  • Food Allergies
  • Fragile X Syndrome
  • Hoarding Disorder
  • Marker X Syndrome
  • Martin-Bell Syndrome
  • Myasthenia Gravis
  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
  • Ovarian Cancer
  • Panic Disorder
  • Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
  • Rape Awareness
  • Sexual Assault
  • Substance Abuse
  • Tourette’s Syndrome
  • Trigeminal Neuralgia
  • Tsunami Victims
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Vulvar Cancer

Turquoise

  • Addiction Recovery
  • Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia
  • Dysautonomia
  • Interstitial Cystitis
  • Native American
  • Native American Reparations
  • Renal Cell Carcinoma

Purple Ribbons

Purple

Purple Awareness Ribbon
  • ADHD
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Animal Abuse
  • Anti-Violence
  • Arnold Chiari Malformation
  • Chronic Pain
  • Chronic Pancreatitis
  • Colitis
  • Crohn’s Disease
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • Domestic Violence
  • Epilepsy
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Fibromyalgia in Men
  • Gastrointestinal Cancer
  • Harmony
  • Homelessness
  • Leiomyosarcoma
  • Lupus
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Mesh Survivor
  • Mucolipidosis
  • Neuropathy Awareness
  • Pancreatic Cancer
  • Religious Tolerance
  • Rett Syndrome
  • Sarcoidosis
  • Sjogren’s Syndrome
  • Thymoma Cancer
  • Thyroid Cancer
  • Unattended Kids in Cars
  • 9/11 Victims

Lavender

  • Cancer
  • Caregiver Appreciation
  • Epilepsy
  • Foster Care
  • Gynecological Cancer
  • Hypokalemic Periodic Paralysis
  • Infantile Spasms
  • Rett Syndrome

Orchid

Violet

  • Hodgkin’s Disease
  • Testicular Cancer

Orange Ribbons

Orange ribbons’ meanings are often associated with gun violence prevention and suicide prevention — but are also worn to show support for individuals who have leukemia, multiple sclerosis, spinal cancer, or kidney cancers.

Orange

Orange Awareness Ribbon
  • Agent Orange
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome
  • Gun Violence Prevention
  • Hunger
  • Kidney Cancer
  • Leukemia
  • Lupus
  • Malnutrition
  • Melanoma
  • Motorcycle Safety
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Prader-Willi Syndrome
  • Racial Tolerance
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome
  • Self-Injury
  • Sensory Processing Disorder
  • Spinal Cancer
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Work Zone Safety

Red Ribbons

Red ribbons are most commonly used to raise awareness and show support for the fight against HIV/AIDS — though their meaning can also be associated with blood cancer awareness, drug-use prevention, and congenital heart disease awareness, and other causes.

Red

Red Awareness Ribbon
  • Apert Syndrome
  • Aplastic Anemia
  • Blood Cancers and Disorders
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans
  • Burn Victims
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Congenital Heart Defects
  • Congenital Heart Disease
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Courage and Inspiration
  • DARE
  • Diamond Blackfan Anemia
  • Driving under the Influence
  • Dysautonomia
  • Epidermolysis Bullosa
  • Evans Syndrome
  • Factor XI Deficiency
  • Heart Disease
  • Hemophilia
  • High Blood Pressure
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Huffing
  • Hypertension
  • Inhalant Abuse
  • Long Q-T Syndrome
  • Love
  • Lymphoma
  • MADD
  • Marfan Syndrome
  • Poland Syndrome
  • Project Red Flag
  • Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy
  • Sniffing Abuse
  • Stroke
  • Substance Abuse
  • Supraventricular Tachycardia
  • Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura
  • Tuberculosis
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease
  • Wegener’s Granulomatosis
  • Wolf-Parkinson-White

Pink

  • Birth Parents
  • Breast Cancer
  • Nursing Mothers

Cranberry

  • Fibromyalgia

Maroon

  • Multiple Myeloma

Peach

  • Endometrial Cancer
  • Uterine Cancer
  • Vaginal Cancer

Burgundy

  • Adhesions
  • Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome
  • Adults with Disabilities
  • Brain Aneurysm
  • Post-Polio Syndrome
  • Cesarean Section
  • AV Malformation
  • Disabled Adults
  • Lymphatic Malformation
  • Factor V Leiden
  • Headaches
  • Hereditary Hemochromatosis
  • Hemangioma and Vascular Malformation
  • Hospice Care
  • Meningitis
  • Meningococcal Meningitis
  • Migraine
  • PHACES
  • Cystic Hygroma
  • Sickle Cell Anemia
  • Hughes Syndrome
  • Sturge-Weber Syndrome
  • Thrombophilia and Williams Syndrome

Amber

  • Appendix Cancer
  • Pseudomyxoma Peritonei

Green Ribbons

Green ribbons’ meaning is most commonly associated with leukemia, kidney disease, and Lyme disease — but are also worn or tattooed to show support for individuals struggling with mental health. It’s also commonly associated with environmental causes.

Green

Green Awareness Ribbon
  • Adrenal Cancer
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Bone Marrow Donation
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Childhood Depression
  • Depression
  • Dwarfism Awareness
  • Environment
  • Eye Injury Prevention
  • Fanconi’s Syndrome
  • Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva
  • Fighting Climate Change
  • Freedom
  • Gastroparesis
  • Glaucoma
  • Growth and Rebuilding
  • Kidney Cancer and Disease
  • Kidney Donation
  • Leukemia
  • Literacy
  • Living Organ Donation
  • Manic Depression
  • Mental Health
  • Missing Children Mitochondrial Disease
  • Nephrotic Syndrome
  • Neural Tube Defects
  • Neurofibromatosis
  • Organ Donation
  • Organ Transplant
  • Pedestrian Safety
  • Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis
  • Prune Belly Syndrome
  • Safe Driving
  • Save Darfur
  • Spinal Cord Injury and Research
  • Stem Cell Donor and Research
  • Tissue Donation
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Von Hippel Lindau
  • Worker Safety

Light Green

  • Celiac Disease
  • Chronic Pelvic Pain
  • Human Papillomavirus
  • Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Lime Green

  • Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
  • Gastroschisis
  • Lyme Disease
  • Lymphoma
  • Muscular Dystrophy
  • Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
  • Sandhoff Disease
  • Spinal Cord Injuries

Mint Green

  • Autosomal Recessive Polycystic Kidney Disease
  • Congenital Hepatic Fibrosis
  • Genetic Disorders
  • Ivemark Syndrome

Jade

  • Hepatitis B
  • Liver Cancer

Yellow Ribbons

Yellow ribbons are most commonly used to show support for active duty U.S. military troops — though they’re also commonsly used for suicide prevention, missing children awareness, and liver disease awareness, and other causes.

Yellow

Yellow Awareness Ribbon
  • Adenosarcoma
  • Adoptive Parents
  • Alternative Medicine
  • Bladder Cancer
  • Canadian Cancer Society
  • Canadian Military Support
  • Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
  • Endometriosis
  • Equality
  • Ewing’s Sarcoma
  • Gulf War
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Liver Cancer
  • Liver Disease
  • Missing Children
  • Myxoid Liposarcoma
  • Obesity
  • Osteosarcoma
  • POW/MIA
  • Sarcoma
  • Sinking of South Korean ferry MV Sewol
  • Spina Bifida
  • Suicide Awareness
  • U.S. Military Support

Neutral Colored Ribbons

White

White awareness ribbons’ primary meaning is bone cancer awareness or peace — but it’s also commonly associated with Holocaust awareness, adoption, and victims of terrorism and other violence.

White Awareness Ribbon
  • Adoptee
  • Adoption
  • Anti-Child Pornography
  • Anti-Pornography
  • Anti-War
  • Blindness
  • Bone Cancer
  • Bone Disease
  • Child Exploitation
  • Child Sexual Abuse/Assault
  • Community Support
  • Congenital Cataracts
  • Elderly Affairs
  • Hernia
  • Holocaust Remembrance
  • Hope and Support
  • Innocence
  • Molestation Survivor
  • Multiple Hereditary Exostoses
  • Online Sexual Predator Awareness and Internet Safety
  • Osteoporosis
  • Peace
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Retinoblastoma
  • Safe Motherhood
  • Salvation Army
  • Scoliosis
  • Stalking
  • Student Sexual Abuse
  • Teen Pregnancy Prevention
  • Victims of Terrorism
  • Victims of Violence

Black

Black awareness ribbons’ primary meaning is melanoma awareness or mourning — but it’s also commonly associated with anti-terrorism, POW/MIA, and students for gun control.

Black Awareness Ribbon
  • Accidents
  • Amish Support
  • Anti-Terrorism
  • Gang Prevention
  • Gun Control
  • Melanoma
  • Mourning
  • Narcolepsy
  • POW/MIA
  • Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
  • Sleep Apnea
  • Sleep Disorders
  • Students for Gun Control
  • Trauma

Grey

Grey awareness ribbons’ primary meaning is mental illness (specifically borderline personality disorder) — but it’s also commonly associated with allergies, asthma, diabetes, and brain cancer.

Grey Awareness Ribbon
  • Allergies
  • Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency
  • Aphasia
  • Asthma
  • Borderline Personality Disorder
  • Brain Cancer
  • Brain Tumors
  • Diabetes
  • Mental Illness

Cream

  • Degenerative Disc Disease
  • Paralysis
  • Spinal Cord Injuries
  • Spinal Disorders
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy

Gold

  • Alveolar Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Childhood Cancer
  • COPD
  • Embryonal Rhabdomyosarcoma
  • Neuroblastoma
  • Osteosarcoma

Pearl

  • Emphysema
  • Lung Cancer
  • Lung Disease
  • Mesothelioma
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Waldenstrom’s Macroglobulinemia

Silver

  • Brain Disabilities
  • Campaign for the Brain
  • Disabled Children
  • Dyslexia
  • Elder Abuse
  • Encephalitis
  • Niemann-Pick
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • Schizophrenia
  • Sciatic Pain
  • VACTERL
  • Young Onset Parkinson’s Association

Rainbow Ribbons

Rainbow

Rainbow awareness ribbons’ primary meaning is LGBTQ+ pride and marriage equality — but historically rainbow ribbons have also been used to rally support among faith communities for the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Rainbow Awareness Ribbon
  • LGBTQ+ Pride
  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • Marriage Equality
  • AIDS Faith Alliance / Christian Action on AIDS

Rainbow with Black & Brown

  • LGBTQ+ Pride, Inclusive of Black and Brown Communities

Rainbow with Black, Brown, Pink, & Blue

  • LGBTQ+ Pride, Inclusive of Black and Brown Communities and the Trans Community

Multicolored Ribbons with Two Colors

Pink & Blue

  • Amniotic Fluid Embolism
  • Baby Safe Haven
  • Birth Defects
  • Hyperammonemia
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum
  • Infant Loss
  • Infertility
  • Male Breast Cancer
  • Miscarriage
  • Pregnancy Loss
  • Premature Birth
  • Pre-Natal Death
  • Stillbirth
  • Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • Transgender Pride
  • Turner Syndrome
  • Twin-to-Twin Transfusion Syndrome

Blue & Red

  • Congenital Heart Defects and Disease
  • Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Noonan’s Syndrome
  • Osler Weber Rendu Syndrome (HHT)
  • Pulmonary Fibrosis
  • Rare Lung Diseases
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder
  • Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome 

Black & White

  • Anti-Racism
  • Carcinoid Cancer
  • Diversity
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndromes
  • Equity & Inclusion
  • Neuroendocrine Tumors
  • Racial Justice & Equality
  • Rare Diseases
  • Rare Disease Day
  • Transitions

Red & White

  • Aplastic Anemia
  • DVT
  • Head and Neck Cancer
  • Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia
  • Oral Cancer
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma

Burgundy & Ivory

  • Laryngeal Cancer
  • Oral head and neck cancers
  • Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma
  • Pharyngeal Cancer
  • Throat Cancer

Gold & Silver

  • Hearing Disorders
  • Hearing Impairments
  • Meniere’s Disease
  • Tinnitus

Black & Blue

  • Loss of a Brother
  • Loss of a Male Child
  • Mourning a Brother
  • Mourning a Son
  • Parkinson’s

Black & Pink

  • Loss of a Female Child
  • Loss of a Sister
  • Mourning a Daughter
  • Mourning a Sister

Blue & Green

  • A.K.A. Intracranial Hypertension
  • Anal Cancer
  • Earth Day
  • Pseudotumor Cerebri

Black & Red

  • Firefighters
  • Loss of a Firefighter on Duty
  • Murder Victims
  • Murdered Children

Red & Yellow

  • Hepatitis C
  • HIV/HCV Co-Infection
  • Surviving Family Members of Someone Who Died By Suicide

Purple & Yellow

  • Autoimmune Hepatitis
  • Chemical Injury and Lupus
  • Endometriosis

Blue & Yellow

  • Designated Drivers
  • Down Syndrome
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome

Blue & Purple

  • Pediatric Stroke
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis

Orange & White

  • Bike Helmet Safety
  • Bicycle Safety

Orchid & Orange

  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis

Purple & Green

  • Schizencephaly
  • Stickler Syndrome

Purple & Black

  • Necrotizing Enterocolitis
  • Tracheostomy

Teal & Purple

  • Domestic Violence
  • Sexual Assault

Orange & Pink

  • Lesbian Pride

Purple & Gold

  • Intersex Pride

Pink & Teal

Silver & Blue

  • Corpus Callosum

Burgundy & Purple

  • Arachnoiditis

Periwinkle & White

  • Esophageal Atresia and Tracheoesophageal Fistula (EA/TEF)

Teal & White

  •  Cervical Cancer

Red & Gold

  • Neonatal Alloimmune Thrombocytopenia

Red & Orange

  • Adiposis Dolorosa (Dercum’s Disease)
  • Chronic Regional Pain Syndrome / Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome

Red & Pearl

  • Latex Allergy

Blue & Teal

  • Suicide Awareness & Prevention

Blue & Yellow

  • Down Syndrome
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus

Multicolored Ribbons with Three Colors

Pink, Purple, & Blue

  • Bisexual Pride

Pink, Yellow, & Blue

  • Pansexual Pride

Pink, Green, & Blue

  • Polysexual Pride

Dark Blue, Orange, & Orchid

  • Psoriatic Arthritis

Light Green, Light Blue, & Pink

  • Hypotonia

Marigold, Blue, & Purple

  • Bladder Cancer

Pink, Purple, & Teal

  • Thyroid Cancer

Red, Yellow, & Blue

  • Trisomy

Red, White, & Black

  • Pernicious Anaemia and B12 Deficiency

Red, White, & Blue

Red White and Blue Awareness Ribbon
  • United States of America
  • Shooting at Millard South High School in Omaha, Nebraska

Purple, Teal, & Green

  • Medullary Sponge Kidney (Cacchi-Ricci Disease)

Multicolored Ribbons with Four Colors

Black, Grey, White, & Purple

  • Asexual Pride
  • Demisexual Pride

Green, White, Grey, & Black

  • Agender Pride
  • Aromantic Pride

Pink, Purple, Black, & Blue

  • Gender Fluidity Pride

Always make sure to double-check the ribbon color with specific nonprofits to ensure that the current ribbon color is up to date. Sometimes organizations and causes rebrand, pivot away from using ribbons, or introduce a new component to the ribbon. 

How To Use Awareness Ribbons

Pink, white, orange, yellow, dark blue, light blue, and green awareness ribbons

1. Assess the recognition of your awareness ribbon.

Begin by assessing how well-known your awareness ribbon is. Some colored awareness ribbons are well known — like the red ribbon for HIV/AIDS awareness or the pink ribbon for breast cancer awareness. 

On the other hand, if your ribbon is for a lesser-known cause (or if you’re creating a new awareness ribbon for your cause), it will take more time for people to associate the ribbon with your cause. 

And, if your ribbon shares a color with a cause that’s more well-known, then you may need to do more than just display the ribbon to bring awareness to your cause. 

By knowing and understanding this from the beginning, it will allow you to effectively use your ribbon.

2. Decide how you’d like to display your ribbon.

There are a number of ways to showcase an awareness ribbon. Historically, awareness ribbons have been, well… ribbons. They were pinned to a jacket or tied as bows around trees. Even today, these are highly effective ways to bring awareness to your cause.

But there are also more ways to display an awareness ribbon. Facebook has tools that allow you to change your profile picture to add a ribbon or other display banner. You can order custom phone cases, watch bands, car magnets, or even apparel that display awareness ribbons.

And of course, you can go beyond ribbons. You can wear a bracelet that uses the same color(s). You can display a flag or banner. You can get a tattoo. Or you can use other methods of activism or cause-marketing to raise awareness. All of these are equally valid.

3. Use the ribbon as a part of your awareness campaign — but not the entirety of it.

Now that you’ve assessed your awareness ribbon and picked out some ways to display it — it’s time to show it off!

Display it proudly and get as many people as possible to join you. Every time someone sees your ribbon, it’s an opportunity for them to learn more about your cause.

The most important thing is that you don’t share your ribbon in isolation. Because most ribbons don’t have words on them (and even if they do, it will be a small number of words), you’ll need to always associate your ribbon with more details. 

You can use social media, public events, or traditional marketing to communicate more about your cause. Share what cause the colored ribbon is associated with. And share more details about why people should become more aware about this cause.

Lastly — and this is the most important part — share what kind of action you want people to take. Awareness is good, but action will always be better. Clearly communicate the best action step that your new supporters can take!

The History of Awareness Ribbons

We highly recommend this article on the history of awareness ribbons from Smithsonian Magazine. And if you’d like to learn more about one of the most iconic uses of awareness ribbons — red HIV/AIDS ribbons — you should listen to the Awareness episode of the podcast 99% Invisible.

Middle Ages: Ribbons are given to knights as a token of appreciation.

Late 1800’s / Early 1900’s: Yellow ribbons also became of significance when given to U.S. soldiers.

1917: George A. Norton copyrights the song “Round Her Neck She Wears a Yeller Ribbon.”

1980: In response to her husband being held hostage in Iran, Penny Laingen and her neighbors tie yellow ribbons around trees.

1981: People begin using green ribbons to raise awareness of murdered children in Atlanta, Georgia.

1986: Christian groups use rainbow ribbons to advocate for Christian churches getting involved in the AIDS crisis.

1991: Attendees wear red ribbons to the Tony Awards to encourage awareness of the AIDS epidemic.

1992: The Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation begins handing out pink ribbons to Race for the Cure participants.

1992: The New York Times declares 1992 “The year of the Ribbon.”

2014: The “Yellow Ribbon Campaign” is launched in South Korea after the death of 300 people on the MV Sewol ferry.

2014: The yellow “Reminder Ribbon” emoji is introduced. 🎗️

2015: Celebrities wear green ribbons to the Emmy Awards to demand climate change.

Are Awareness Ribbons Effective?

Awareness ribbons can be effective at raising awareness or reminding people of an important cause, but beyond that scope, they’re limited in their impact.

While raising awareness is important, raising awareness alone should not be the end goal.

Take, for example, breast cancer awareness. 

The pink awareness ribbon has become absolutely iconic. When we see it, we immediately think “breast cancer awareness.” This is meaningful and important for anyone who has had breast cancer or anyone who has loved someone with breast cancer. The pink ribbon increased awareness around breast cancer, and in the process, helped reduce stigma, increase important conversations, and energize people around around the topic.

But the most powerful part of the pink ribbon is what happened after that awareness. Leaders, doctors, and individuals encouraged women to check their breasts for lumps and get regular mammograms. Advocacy groups rallied to support people going through treatment for breast cancer. And nonprofits raised billions of dollars for breast cancer research.

The pink ribbon was instrumental in this. The awareness was paramount. But it took so much more than just a ribbon and awareness. 

As you go out and use an awareness ribbon, know that we’re cheering you on. We’re glad you’re bringing awareness to an issue that matters deeply to you. We encourage you to take things one step further: Ask yourself how you can go beyond awareness to take action. 

You might just inspire others to take action as well. 

More ways to bring awareness to important issues: