The funeral industry completely flies under the radar for its role in environmental pollution and carbon dioxide emissions. If people knew how large of an impact a funeral have on our environment there would be a shift in how we handle after-death care. After analyzing statistics regarding annual pollution we can see:
- 40 million tons of concrete is used to create burial vaults
- 800,000 gallons of formaldehyde-based embalming fluid is buried
- 4 million square acres of forest is cut down for wood to make caskets which contains enough trees to sequester 65 million tons of carbon dioxide a year
- 115 tons of steel is used to manufacture caskets annually
These resources are consumed every single year in the United States alone. It is difficult to visualize just how damaging a single funeral is until you realize that every single day 7,120 funerals take place. The Environmental Impact of the Funeral Industry investigates in further detail the pollution caused by cremation and burial funerals on a national scale.
To truly live an environmentally sustainable lifestyle from the beginning of your life to the end of your life is not easy. In fact, the average person living a western style of life emits a lot of carbon. The per capita amount of waste/trash produced by someone living in America is higher than anywhere else in the world. The Guardian published an incredible visual and a chart that lays out every countries emissions per capita.
The responsibility lies on the shoulders of every person to give back to the planet in a positive way. Green funerals are just one way someone can make a meaningful contribution back to mother nature. Here are 3 ways to reduce the environmental impact of funerals for people during end-of-life transitions.
1. Remember A Loved One With A Green Tradition
Imagine a tradition where some of the belongings of the recently deceased get donated to charity. It does not need to be all of the possessions of a loved one The ultimate goal is to reduce unnecessary waste by donating things back to the community. Another tradition might involve planting some flowers to honor a loved one. You and your family can get as creative as you want with developing environmentally friendly funeral traditions. The gesture of giving back to nature is almost as important as the actual tradition itself. By adopting more green-friendly funeral practices we can ensure a future of environmental sustainability where everyone benefits.
2. A Green Sympathy Gift!
At Trees for a Change, you can have a tree planted as a sympathy gift for a grieving family member or friend. By purchasing a memorial tree and a sympathy card, Trees for a Change will plant a tree in areas that desperately need tree coverage. This company is dedicated to planting trees to represent the memory of a loved one who has passed away or planting a tree as a meaningful sympathy gift. Check out Trees for a Change for yourself and give somebody a gift that gives back.
3. Shop at Safe Passage Urns - For Every Urn Sold We Plant A Tree
When you honor a loved one with a beautiful cremation urn from Safe Passage Urns, we will plant an indigenous tree in an area affected by deforestation or erosion. We created this initiative with 2 goals in mind. First, we want to give people a way to contribute back to the planet while memorializing a loved one. We understand that if you are buying a cremation urn for the ashes of a loved one, you have enough on your plate with regards to planning the funeral. You may not feel up to giving back to the planet so we will take on this role and do our best to continue the cycle of life by planting a tree in the memory of someone no longer with us.
Second, we want to offset the carbon footprint of our own business. We understand our role in creating pollution and carbon emissions. We aim to completely offset our companies emissions by planting trees. A LOT of trees! Our goal is to plant 3 million by 2028. This would be enough trees to cover over 4,000 acres of forest with the potential to sequester 16 million tons of carbon. Another incredible thing about forests is their ability to exponentially increase carbon sequestration as they grow older. With this in mind, our company could potentially become completely sustainable and carbon neutral in years to come.
This initiative would not be possible without the help of the One Tree Planted non-profit organization. Through their knowledge and expertise in reforestation, we at Safe Passage Urns are able to fulfill our promise of planting a tree for every unique cremation urn sold.
We hope that these tips can help you and your family grieve the loss of a loved one in an environmentally sustainable way. By being more aware of your individual environmental impact we can collectively help restore the planet and leave the world a better place for our children and all future generations.