Royal British Legion plastic free poppies

  • Creative Review

Each year as autumn sets in and November approaches I see the iconic red poppies silently appearing on people’s pockets, lapels, cars and bags, urging me to remember not just what they represent but also that I need to find time to make a donation and to wear my own poppy.

Like many my past poppy buying experience was to hurriedly grab a poppy at the supermarket exit, depositing whatever change I had into the blue boxes. My experience then changed to looking through an array of items searching for the much-coveted metal pin badge and then adding the standard poppy for posterity. As the years passed and I became more aware of my own single plastic consumption I admit that buying a poppy each year gave me a small tinge of guilt but re-wearing last year’s, even with a renewed donation, didn’t quite cut it. I felt conflicted, was my need to demonstrate that ‘I remember’ adding to another problem, the ever-growing mound of plastic waste we collectively produce, and if I felt this way about my annual poppy consumption surely other did too?

As it is not November, and my sights are very much on the desire for regular sunshine rather than the hope of early snow, I did not have poppies on my mind at all. Browsing Creative Review I was pleasantly surprised to hear that The Royal British Legion has made huge changes to its poppy and this year’s poppy donation can be guilt free. In October the new look paper poppy will be launched, made entirely from recycled fibres, with plastic eliminated completely from the design, all easily recycled in paper recycling. Don’t worry, masses of plastic poppies won’t be needlessly destroyed to make way for the new paper one, stock will be run down.

So, there was the simple solution. I don’t need to stop wearing my poppy, an alternative is already on its way. I’m sure we’ll be-moan the construction of the new completely paper poppy, but can you honestly say you haven’t pricked your finger with the current poppy/pin combination, I can’t!

It is projects like these that remind you of the power of design and I’m glad to part of that cycle of reflection, change and re-invention. I’m sure in the future we will realise that this new design isn’t perfect either and we’ll hopefully find ways to improve the conflict that causes in our minds. I wonder what Remembrance poppies will look like in another 100 years’ time?

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