Eco-Friendly Ways to Honour Veterans
By Larraine Roulston
During Remembrance Day, consider the thousands of disposable, petroleum-based poppies that are manufactured, boxed, and transported.
Undoubtedly, the poppy’s symbolism serves as a reminder of those who served to protect our freedom. Fallen servicemen and women, however, would be outraged at the way we use our freedom to litter the soil, pollute the air and contaminate the seas on which they so gallantly fought. There are environmental solutions. To honour veterans, save your poppy to reuse and simply make a donation each year. People who wish to knit or crochet poppies can find patterns available online. Designing crafted ones from wool, fabrics, or paper can also become a classroom art project. Any poppies left on the ground made from these natural materials would eventually decompose or be picked up by birds for nest making in the spring. All of which symbolizes the continuation of life. It’s a movement that embraces the rising circular economy.
To engage students to leave a poppy on each veteran’s headstone, the ‘No Stone Left Alone Memorial Foundation’, was launched in 2011. Michelle Koch, National Coordinator, said, “All visible poppies are picked up, typically within a week of being placed. As snow often obscures some, the remainder are collected in the spring by our volunteers or by cemetery maintenance staff. Poppies are cleaned and stored for reuse the next year.” Koch added that they are continually looking for more eco-friendly alternatives to plastic by suggesting students make ones from paper, and paint poppies on small stones.
Although the red poppy is most commonly worn, the white poppy can also be displayed. For over 80 years, white has been worn to symbolize remembrance and serve as a commitment to peace.
By joining the Break Free Plastic Movement to reduce plastic is one way to solve the problem – recycling is another. Regardless of its dismal recycling rate, (only 8-11% of the 3 million tonnes produced annually in Canada are actually recycled into new products), it has not, however, daunted two grade 11 students at Saskatoon’s Bishop James Mahoney High School. Sophia LaCroix and Kai Chen personally began collecting the plastic PET (polyethylene terephthalate) beverage bottles for recycling.
After receiving grants from EcoFriendly Sask and the Greater Saskatoon Catholic Schools Foundation, the teens purchased a PETBOT machine, thus enabling the school’s green team to carry on with the project of recycling. This extruder is manufactured by NovaTech, a Russian company. The machine strips plastic into a coil, heats it into a filament that in turn provides the raw material needed for 3D printers. Their aim is to donate the filament to schools and other organizations using 3D printers in education.
Despite political promises, family members, neighbours, community groups, and students can share various ways on how to change habits in order to eliminate single-use plastics.
~ Larraine writes children’s books that highlight the joy of composting and pollinating with the adventures of Pee Wee at Castle Compost. With illustrations, songs, and poems, the stories unearth the miracles of nature’s cycle of life. Fun and factual for all ages. To order, postage free visit: www.castlecompost.com