PEI

P.E.I. church group asking legion for greener options for Remembrance Day wreaths

A group of churches on P.E.I. is asking the Royal Canadian Legion to find a greener alternative to the crosses and wreaths used at Remembrance Day ceremonies.

'The legion needs to study options and move to an environmentally-friendly alternative'

The many wreaths laid at the cenotaph in Charlottetown. (Brian McInnis/CBC)

In November this year, a P.E.I. pastor will pay for Remembrance Day wreaths and crosses from the Royal Canadian Legion. But Rev. Pix Butt will tell the organization not to send them. She is choosing to reuse wreaths in good condition until the legion finds a greener alternative.  

"We have to be realistic, this is a fundraiser," said the head of the Margate Pastoral Charge. "So we will reuse, but still pay the legion a fee as our thanks for their organization and participation in all of these wonderful services."

The Kensington and Area Christian Council, representing various denominations including the Margate Pastoral Charge, has already reached out to the local and provincial commands of the legion.

It has also written to national headquarters asking the organization to find a more environmentally-friendly wreath and cross option.

Our supply folks are in fact exploring new materials for the wreaths.— Dion Edmonds, Royal Canadian Legion

"This isn't comment about the legion or what we're remembering or the work that they do, or people in service," Butt said. "It's about doing it in a way that's also more kind to the environment."

Two-and-a-half bags of wreaths and crosses ended up in the garbage at the small rural churches in the Margate charge last year. Butt kept nine of the very best ones to display again.

A slow process

The national headquarters of the legion said it is trying to find greener greenery. 

"Our supply folks are in fact exploring new materials for the wreaths," wrote Dion Edmonds, the legion's deputy director of marketing and communications, in an email to CBC.  "They mention it is a slow process as there are a lot of variables involved."

The national headquarters of the legion does not have a policy on disposal of the wreaths. 

"The legion does encourage the reordering of wreaths each year," wrote Edmonds, "to ensure its quality and that it is not in a state of disrepair and considered disrespectful."

The Royal Canadian Legion says its suppliers are exploring new materials for the wreaths, but that it's a 'slow process.' (Brian McInnis/CBC)

The organization does suggest the memorials can be moved to public buildings or placed on the graves of veterans after cenotaph services. 

The tiny community of Victoria-by-the-Sea, P.E.I., also wishes there was an alternative to the current products.

"We usually have 15-18 wreaths and crosses, which end up in the waste bin a couple of weeks later," said Brenda Boudreau of the Victoria Historical Association. 

"The legion needs to study options and move to an environmentally-friendly alternative, which still raises funds for the cause and serves as a visual reminder of remembrance." 

Butt hopes for an alternative, or even divine intervention. "I think there's a creative soul out there that will come up with something that's biodegradable that we can use." 

More from CBC P.E.I.

About the Author

Mitch Cormier is the host of Island Morning on CBC Radio in Charlottetown. Email: mitch.cormier@cbc.ca Twitter: @mitchcormierCBC

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