We recently came across a blog post on www.theconversation.com, posted by Robert John Young, Professor of Wildlife Conservation at Salford University.
The blog post is an exploration through today's funeral options and their environmental impact. Cremation and traditional burial are of course discussed, as are the more contemporary options of sky burial, burial at sea, and woodland burials.
It is a personal reflection of the choices people must make when a parent has left no preferences. It also highlights people's growing inclination to choose something more environmentally friendly, moving away from ordinary, conventional affairs.
However, although we enjoyed his account and the pros and cons it addresses, we felt the need to set the facts straight relating to burial and global warming. So to clarify this, and the other factors to consider when choosing what to do with your or a relative's mortal remains, here's our table:
Click the table to enlarge.
Find Professor Robert John Young's blog post here - be sure to read the comments:
It is not in the funeral trade’s interest to advise clients of the negative impact cremation has on the planet. Cremation offers them a profitable, quick turnaround and extra opportunities to sell funeral products.
We have a day to day responsibility to our clients, people at a very vulnerable and tender time in their lives – to offer them accurate and truthful information from which to make judgements. But beyond this, are we missing a trick?
Having recently watched David Puttnam’s Ted Talk – ‘Does the media have a duty of care?’, I was struck by the relevance it has to the funeral industry.
As natural burial ground managers, we provide a uniquely sustainable way to bury human remains. Unfortunately, our alternative is yet to reach the masses as so many now opt for cremation. It’s become the done thing, it’s quick, cheap and easy – or so you’d think. (Read our ‘Is green just a colour’ post below.)
But do the crematoriums consider the wider community, or that elephant in the room – the environment? We don’t think so.
The mercury amalgam fillings in our teeth are vaporised in the cremation process, releasing mercury vapour into the atmosphere. Where does this go? Up the chimney.
Crematoria are responsible for 16% of the UK’s mercury pollution and that figure is expected to rise. Filters to some crematorium chimneys were fitted in 2012 after government legislation to reduce such pollution, but there remain crematoria which continue to pollute unabated. The problem is still there.
It affects our brains, our nervous systems and has particular effects on the young, pregnant and elderly. So why aren’t they doing more about it?
Currently, 75% of us choose cremation and that number doesn’t look set to reduce any time soon. With around 450,000 cremations a year in the UK alone, each using the same energy as a single person does in a month – the cumulative pollution, CO2 emission and energy usage is considerable.
It’s time we confronted the truths of cremation and started thinking about how to deal with its hugely detrimental effect on the environment and ourselves. To continue this way is simply not sustainable.
The answer is simple. Natural burial is the way forward.
David Puttnam's Ted Talk
Our research tells us that most people who chose natural burial do so because they want to be somewhere gorgeous. For them, the environmental benefits are a massive added bonus.
But, for others, green is a way of life and environmental issues are at the heart of their decision making. For them, our ethos of keeping things simple, natural and beautiful, together with our robust ‘green’ credentials make the sustainable, natural burial meadows and woodlands a discerning choice.
In Leo Hickman’s Guardian article ‘Should I ... be buried or cremated?‘ this is the bit we love the most ….“For most environmentalists, it's actually better to fade away than burn out. Our lives, they say, already result in enough gratuitous combusting of fossil fuels. Much better, in death, to compost down as nature intended.”
You can read the full article here http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2005/oct/18/ethicalmoney.climatechange
Here are the facts, and why natural burial wins hands down.
If the environment matters, then would it not be wise to consider the environmental impact of all the choices we make?
Let us know what’s important to you…
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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