Today is Remembrance Day in Canada. It is a day to honour the memory and service of those who fought and died in military service of the country.
It was started after the end of the First World War (November 11, 1918 was the day that war officially ended). And Remembrance Day's greatest symbol comes from a poem written by a Canadian about that war.
Written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, In Flanders Fields contains the line "the poppies grow". After the war, red poppies were worn as a symbol of Remembrance Day. And they have remained popular ever since.
In Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion produces poppies for the public to buy and organizes raising money for veterans (ex-soldiers who have served in the military). This is something that they have done for many years, producing over 20 million poppies.
But this year, the tradition is getting a little tweak. The poppies that they are selling are biodegradable. Yay!
A change for the future
In the past, poppies were made of felt and plastic. But this year's model is different.
Though the colour is the same, it is made of cotton velvet, bamboo, non-woven fabric and some string. Though there is still some overstock (extras) of the old plastic poppies to be sold this year, it is likely that the all of the poppies sold in 2023 will be the new biodegradable model.
And it will stay that way moving forward.
The reason? Canada's new policy to move away from all single-use plastics. When we think of plastics, we often think of things like straws, takeout containers, and other food packaging, but the Remembrance Day poppy is also covered under the future plastic ban. Just like any other small plastic item, they would often end up in landfill and add to the problem of plastic waste. Now that won't be happening!
More changes in play
The poppy campaign raises an estimated $20 million a year for programs that benefit veterans. But organizers recognize that it is a campaign that needs to change with the times.
The new biodegradable poppies come with a option where people can scan one to receive a 'Poppy Story'—this is a short story of the experiences of a Canadian Veteran who served in war. And in addition to making biodegradable poppies, the Royal Canadian Legion has made programs for digital poppies that can be bought online, as well as setting up donation stations that can accept debit rather than just cash donations.
Now we can honour the memory and service of those who sacrificed so much in a whole new way.