Richard Curtis has said “a bit of tactical nudging by some passionate kids” helped Comic Relief create its first 100% plastic-free nose for Red Nose Day.
The charity is launching a plant-based nose for 2021 made from bagasse, a natural by-product of sugarcane, created over 18 months of testing and research into sustainable alternatives.
Comic Relief had been working on an alternative when, in early 2019, schoolchildren from Fourlanesend Community Primary School in Cornwall began making their own sustainable noses out of household goods – while still donating the cost of the plastic nose to the charity.
They subsequently received press attention and the backing of Sir David Attenborough.
Film director and Comic Relief co-founder Curtis, 63, praised the children for their campaign.
He told the PA news agency: “We had been working on it beforehand but I do think we are at an interesting time, especially with the climate debate, where the energy is coming from the young.
“This is the whole purpose – that you have got a younger generation who is pushing even harder and making you even more aware.
“Even though I remember thinking and worrying, ‘What is Comic Relief doing about the environment?’ But actually a lot of our projects do relate back to the environment, particularly lots of projects that we do in Africa try to move people from jobs that lead to deforestation, into jobs where women don’t have to earn their money just by selling trees. Also, people who are adapting to the problems of climate change.
“In a way, every charity and every business is a climate business now, as we are learning, from the shoes we wear, the clothes we buy and the banks we bank with.
“Comic Relief is definitely in its own way an environmental charity, so we did want to do the right thing. But there is absolutely no doubt that a bit of tactical nudging by some passionate kids definitely made a difference. That’s a good thing and what we would hope of people who support Comic Relief.”
Pupils aged between five and 10 from the school will be given a first look at the new noses on Tuesday, which will be available in 10 different animal characters including a squirrel, fox and badger.
They will meet a virtual panel of guests including Curtis, environmental broadcaster Liz Bonnin and TV presenter Ore Oduba, to discuss the new nose and their views on the environment.
Comic Relief’s new nose is not compostable but the charity says it will improve the design year on year and hopes to have one in the near future.
Explaining the charity’s drive to become more environmentally friendly, Curtis said: “It really is complicated, these things. When you do start to focus on it, this is one of the great things, it is a long journey.
“For instance, we did a lot of work on the paint because you have got to make sure the paint is also not doing any damage to the environment. And also, you have got to check on the working conditions of the people who make it. That was another thing when we were trying to find the suppliers. Also, they are being sent by sea, they are not being flown, so it is sea freight.
“At every point we are trying to take out plastics, take out the environmental damage of the product itself and the paint used in the product and the way that the product is moved around.”
Rebecca Norton, head teacher at Fourlanesend Community Primary School, said: “Plastic is an issue our children care passionately about as they see so much plastic waste wash up on the shores of our beaches.
“They are such huge supporters of Comic Relief and really wanted to see the Nose change so they could continue supporting the work they do.
“The children were the driving force behind contacting our local press in 2019 and writing to Comic Relief and can’t quite believe this has all happened.”
Nine-year-old Lauren, a pupil at Fourlanesend Community Primary School, added: “Here at school, and in our local community we are very passionate about reducing our use of plastic, so it’s a really good feeling knowing that what we’ve done has encouraged Comic Relief to create a plastic-free nose.
“We were all so excited when we heard the news, it’s something each and every one one of us will always remember and be very proud of.”
More details at comicrelief.com/nose