Mrs Green gets a bit red faced

Filed in Blog by on June 29, 2011 16 Comments
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A red nose; but is it recyclable?

A red nose; but is it recyclable?

I’ve been thinking about a couple of random things recently.

The Royal Wedding and Red Nose day.

What’s not to love about both those events?

Kate Middleton is gorgeous and a romantic wedding was just what the UK needed to take our minds off the recession, while Red Nose Day raises millions of pounds each year to transform lives across the UK and Africa.

Even though these events are long gone for this year their legacy, both good and bad, remains.

Take the Royal Wedding for example. It helped swell the coffers for sure but what did people across the world spend their money on?

In my local Lidls, they still have plastic-swathed pathetic-looking products for sale – mainly disposable plastic cups and plastic tablecloths with union jacks and images of the happy couple on them.

Street parties up and down the country indulged in banners, balloons and flags – I wonder where they are now?

Then there was all the memorabilia; some of which may well be loved for years to come and may even become valuable such as mugs, letter openers and commemorative plates. But there was a whole lot of ‘quick fix’ gimmicks available too – plastic dolls of the couple, disposable pens, plastic wristbands, mousemats, stickers…

Likewise, the history of the ‘red nose’ is quite something. Made from plastic or foam the iconic red nose has changed from plain red plastic in the early days to growing arms to being scented to having a ‘hooter’ inside it, to being covered in glitter to all sorts of variations on the theme. Every year a ‘new’ nose is bought out, so you are expected to buy new and throw away the old.

People put large plastic noses on their cars or buildings and in 2009, a 6 metre diameter inflatable nose was attached to a cruiseferry.

Little Miss Green was expected to buy a red nose for school and I was at a complete loss over what to do. I actually felt very angry about it and had a bit of a rant. I don’t mind the money side of it at all; it’s great that people in an affluent country can support those less fortunate than themselves and I don’t mind the element of fun, because I’m a gal who likes a laugh but what about the environment? What about the fact we made millions of red noses from plastic? What about the fact she goes to an Eco School who just didn’t stop to think for a moment.

It reminds me of paying money to a charity and instead of the money going to them they send you crap in the post like disposable pens and stickers instead.

What do you think? Am I being a bit of kill joy? Maybe these red noses have a take back scheme and are recyclable; as I’ve never bought one I don’t know…

Anyway, Little Miss Green didn’t seem to mind in the slightest that she wasn’t getting a plastic nose and she made me something special to celebrate the day – it’s fetching don’t you think? And fully recyclable after use 😉

Do you think my 'Green Nose' could catch on?

Do you think my 'Green Nose' could catch on?

About the Author ()

I am a long time supporter of the Green and Sustainable lifestyle. After being caught in the Boscastle floods in 2004, our family begun a journey to respect and promote the importance of Earth’s fragile ecosystem, that focussed on reducing waste. Inspired by the beauty and resourcefulness of this wonderful planet, I have published numerous magazine articles on green issues and the author of four books.

Comments (16)

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  1. sooz says:

    Nice nose, Mrs Green! I compltely agree. I had a similar converation with the (poor, bewildered, Spanish) work expereince boy at work, when he asked why I hadn’t bought a nose on red nose day (I had however worn ALL the red items of clothing I possess) I usually skip buying whatever product is trying to be sold to me in the name of charity and just give a donation directly to the cause, I do wonder about all those noses (and other charity gimmiks) and what happens to them after the big day…

  2. Hazel says:

    I had the same feelings about both events.

    My little close did hold a bring and share BBQ, but as I was organising it no plastic crap was involved! It was mainly an excuse for a neighbours get together, so no one felt the need to supply Happy Couple tat, fortunately.
    We did have paper napkins, but they got composted, as did any paper plates. DD2 labelled plastic bins with ‘cutlery’ ‘glasses’ , ‘cans’, ‘bottles’ etc and they all got washed and/or recycled. (I have a stash of plastic cutlery and glasses which I keep in a box in the loft and just keep reusing. I bought them initially for DD1’s Christening party 11 years ago. I probably wouldn’t do that now, but they are still being (re)used!)
    My council composts food waste, so anything that couldn’t be saved or at least fed to the chickens went in the brown bin. I think we ended up with half a carrier bag of non-recyclable waste, which wasn’t bad for 20 families. 🙂
    I did wonder about all the other parties and all the one-use junk at the time.

    I also have a problem with the Red Noses, and was pretty much accused of being mean by the children. I think we escaped with just one nose- DD1 bought one at (secondary) school. I did try to explain that I am quite happy to give the £1; in fact I’d rather give an extra £1 straight to the charity instead of taking away the cost of manufacturing the nose (or badge, or wristband, or whatever), which means they actually do better from me, but that’s hard when you’re at school and everyone wonders why you’re not joining in or ‘doing your bit’. DS is quite happy to be different and tell everyone why, but the girls do find it harder.

    I was considering writing to someone at Comic Relief (Richard Curtis? CEO? Lenny Henry? All of them?!) and asking if they couldn’t do something a bit greener next time. I can’t see why they can’t do one from maize starch like the packing peanuts, though I suppose it may start to dissolve on children with runny noses! They could even colour them green…
    You’ve just spurred me into action! I feel a stiff letter coming on, as my mother would say.

  3. Julie Day says:

    I never really thought about it when I bought a red nose but next year I will. Actually I don’t think I bought one this year anyway. Like your green nose, it is more eco to make your own – what a good idea for schools to do this, esp Little Miss Green’s, to do this. Think I will do that next year.

  4. Poppy says:

    J was desperate for a pirate nose and we did give in, but they also decided that they wouldn’t be allowed them at school for hygiene reasons. We then ended up with a little army of red noses because they were giving them away at Sainsburys, after the event and J was invited to help himself! They are now dotted around the house annoying me, but still wrapped up, so perhaps I should throw them in the loft with the Spice Girls wrapping paper just in case they become valuable 🙂

  5. Abi says:

    Aaargh, the red noses made me so cross! When I got a red nose at school (for the first comic relief, back in the day!) it was, as you say, a plain plastic red nose. I went to get red noses for my kids and was outraged to discover that a) they were made from some hideous foam (which, incidentally, splits in half when given to an overenthusiastic 6yr old) but b) they were individually wrapped in cellophane and c) had a paper insert for no discernable reason other than to hold a CE mark. Insane! Really killed my charitable, humourous spirit, I can tell you. Harrumph.

  6. Jane Broome says:

    I have been enjoying your blog for quite a while now. And since I work in international development education and am personally very interested in waste reduction I thought this would be a good time to chime in. It seems like this red nose MARKETING campaign has been very successful. I stress marketing because that is what is driving this red nose campaign not aid experts, not people that are concerned with waste either. They have done a good job of getting people to spend money every year but certainly with a large amount of waste. Can you imagine if people just donated the money without the cost of the noses? No waste, more money donated. I wish this would happen! Sadly it very likely would never get the same attention because people love a good gimmick. Maybe they could at least come up with a nose option that is less wasteful?

    I don’t know this campaign (I’m Canadian) but I did take a little time to look it over. I was not expecting to be impressed, but on first glance they seem to be doing good work. One example is they don’t just give away “things” like malarial nets, there is a big focus on training and education.They also steer away from long term sponsorship which creates a dependency. This is extremely important in good development work. And something that most big aid agencies are not very good at. Will they “transform” lives? Maybe some, a little bit. But in reality some of their focus is on short term support (aid, help), not long term solutions.

    Regardless, I write this so you can at least rest easier with the idea that your child is contributing to an aid agency that is in general doing good work. I hope this eases your conscience just a little. Some day maybe we won’t receive junk from aid agencies and we won’t send our junk overseas masked as a donation. I can’t wait!

  7. Mary Ann says:

    So, I’m reading this from the U.S. What in the world is Red Nose Day?

  8. Teresa says:

    To me the Royal Wedding Day was a welcome day off from the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign; I delivered and handed out almost 3,000 leaflets. I had intended to go to Bristol for an alternative party with food, outdoor games and craft workshops but was too tired so took party in Royal Weeding Day instead at the allotment in the afternoon for an hour.

  9. Hazel says:

    @Mary Ann: It’s also known as Comic Relief.. It started off in the 1980’s as a group of comedians doing an evening of TV (used to be known as a telethon) during which the public are encouraged to phone and pledge money. It is now a biannual event, with lots of peripheral events to raise money and a major supermarket sells a different style of red (clown’s) nose each time.
    They (the supermarket and the organisers) raise millions of pounds for charities in the UK and in Africa.

    @Jane Broome: They are a great charity, and one I have no qualms about supporting. The early part of the evening is family friendly and encourages children to see how their lives differ from other children and to want to make a difference in between funny sketches. It’s just slightly ironic that they are filming ‘Africa’s biggest rubbish dump’ whilst sending millions of plastic foam balls and packaging to landfill sites all over the UK…

  10. linda says:

    dear mrs green ,l have enjoyed reading your web page over the last couple of years , cant you use the red noses as mini seedling pots or cress growers as you now have the plastic red noses, also the same for the plastic cups ,if looked after wll last years for garden growers.

  11. Cate B says:

    Love the nose Mrs Green! Whilst we’re on the subject of charities, why oh why do I keep getting charity bags posted through my door for me to fill up and place outside for collection? I don’t mind donating to charity at all but I get one of these bags (wrapped and sealed in another plastic bag) through my door almost every week. I have tried using them to store clothes in until I’m ready to take them to the shop, I’ve tried leaving the empty bag for collection and re-use (they are often ignored and just float off down the street) and I’ve tried using the bags for general rubbish but despite all this I still have an entire library of bags in my kitchen drawer which I can’t dispose of!

  12. sooz says:

    @Cate B: I have a similar collection of charity bags in my drawer! Why keep seding them… we must get at least 3 or 4 a week…I keep meaning to make a ‘no bags please’ sign for my door!

  13. Jane says:

    Red noses have collected at the bottom of the things that need somewhere to go bin. I haven’t bought any for several years now and really really wish that they could come up with something greener. It was really novel having them on cars and buildings once. Perhaps greener ones could bring the novelty back a little more again. Yes, we should write. I’ll put it on the list.

  14. Jean says:

    Sooz. Ten days ago I wrote a notice for my door asking, ‘NO cold callers, NO circulars, NO charity bags, please’. Since then I have already had one cold caller – on the very day I stuck up the nottice! – and two circulars. The first got a flea in his ear and the two posters got chased noisily up the street and the offending articles returned to them! Today I have added a second notice, ‘NO takeaway leaftlets’. But I don’t suppose they’ll be able to read that either.

  15. Mrs Green says:

    @sooz: I agree, getting dressed up, having fun and donating the money directly to the cause is the way forward

    @Hazel: Your street party sounds wonderful Hazel and shows how you can join in the fun without damaging the environment. Will be interested to hear if you write the letter and what response you get. Wouldn’t that be something!

    @Julie Day: Now there’s an idea; making our own eco noses in school – kids can still donate the £1 for having the fun of doing it. Brilliant!

    @Poppy: Can’t believe they banned them at school for hygiene! Currently LMG and fellow school friends are not allowed in the top field because there are molehills. Whatever next ….

    @Abi: Great rant; couldn’t agree with you more and am getting more heartened that it’s not just me who gets a bit antsy over the things!

    @Jane Broome: Hi Jane thanks for sharing all your research. I certinly feel that comic relief is one of the better charitable events.

    @Teresa: Oh I just LOVE the Royal Weeding day; how fantastic 😀

    @linda: I can just see the most marvellous photograph of a series of little red noses sprouting seedlings – what a great idea!

    @Cate B: lots of readers seem overrun with these bags. Fortunately I don’t get too many; just the right amount actually; so I fill them up and take them to a charity shop myself because then I know they will be collected. Perhaps you should just dish them out to friends who use bin bags…

    @Jane: A greener one for 2012 would be fab – they could do a great gimmick with them

    @Jean: Good for you for chasing the people up the street Jean; keep getting that message across!

  16. I can’t stand the people who keep their red nose from last year so they can wear it again – without having to make another donation! They think they’re doing the sensible thing and saving money. It completely misses the point of the day!

    I don’t usually donate to the charities that run these kinds of events. They seem to me to waste too much money producing slick TV ads, paying marketing executives, mailing out glossy brochures, manufacturing pens/noses/teddy bears, etc. I have my selected charities that I donate to, where I know the money is going directly to the cause and not to promotion, executive salaries, etc.

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