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My idea of a remembrance poppy eight months early

March 28, 2017

A Royal British Legion poppy pin beside the four-month-old remains of a Royal Canadian Legion’s disposable plastic variety.

Yesterday (March 27) I plucked a glittering Royal British Legion remembrance poppy pin out of a Fairview dumpster and happily saved it from ending up in the landfill.

This fancy variety of remembrance poppy is different from what we’re used to in Canada.

The Royal British Legion pin is smaller—about two-thirds the size of the Royal Canadian Legion’s cheap plastic-and-steel-pinned remembrance poppy. And it’s not meant to be thrown away after Remembrance Day the way the Canadian Legion poppy is.

Which is to say that the Royal British Legion pin isn’t such an environmental disaster.

Canada’s remembrance poppy—what a waste

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A plastic Canadian remembrance poppy in the gutter—a terrible thing to see.

The Royal Canadian Legion’s throw-away remembrance poppy, with its non-recycleable, non-biodegradable plastic body and sharp steel pin, is a puzzling holdover from a time when  disposable products were designed with little or no thought as to their long term consequences.

Every year these poppies needlessly contribute to the global quantity of immortal plastic waste and they pose an annually renewed choking hazard for animals (not to mention how the pins can stab feet, paws and bicycle tires).

For a symbol that is supposed to be all about remembering and having empathy with the victims of suffering, the Royal Canadian Legion’s remembrance poppy perpetuates a particularly cruel and thoughtless design that is surprising, especially considering that we know better now.

The Royal British Legion’s distinctive disposable paper and plastic remembrance poppy.

When it comes to considerate design, the Canadian remembrance poppy compares poorly with most every other disposable remembrance poppy under the sun, especially the Royal British Legion’s version, which was redesigned in 2003, both to be environmentally-friendlier and to dispense with the dangerous steel stick pin altogether.

A remembrance poppy that is a keeper

The front and back of the Royal British Legion enameled poppy pin.

The Royal British Legion enameled poppy pin is one of several jewelery-quality versions of the disposable paper and plastic Remembrance Day poppy which is distributed across the UK every November.

The pin has a silver-toned finish (as opposed to being real silver) and features a striking iridescent red enameled face. The back is fitted with a rollover locking C safety clasp and is embossed with the words: “Lest We Forget”. It is made to last for years.

Not to be completely outdone, the Canadian Legion’s online Poppy Store sells one silver-plated pewter remembrance poppy brooch (Item #300650) for $39.95.

Although it’s expensive and I much prefer the look of the British Legion’s enamel poppy pins, the Canadian Legion’s brooch is commendable for being designed to be kept and worn year after year.

A Canadian remembrance poppy retrofitted with a strong rare earth magnet.

Mind you, if you give it some thought (and have some epoxy and a spare pin back, or a magnet), you can easily turn a disposable Canadian remembrance poppy into a hardy annual without spending much money at all.

But remember, if you buy a long-lasting poppy pin or if you make one, please don’t forget to donate to the annual poppy campaign in your community. Click the images to enlarge them.

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2 Comments
  1. brouillardesque permalink

    Sadly, it doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference that I don’t forget, and governments the world over seem to be keen to give us more to contemplate as we hurtle toward some kind of self-inflicted oblivion, a state in which Remembrance will be truly futile. It rather looks like a cruel joke, on the scale of Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle.

    • I still think it makes a difference because I believe that meaningful change must begin at the level of personal responsibility.

      It is true, however, that there mustn’t be much real remembering going on. If the masses really remembered, then they would act and vote to keep nations from repeating the jingoistic behaviours which led to the two world wars, which certainly isn’t the case. It doesn’t help that governments, through groups like the Royal Canadian Legion, have worked, since the end of the First World War, to co-opt the original anti-war spirit of Remembrance Day to make it about patriotism.

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