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
Stories and thoughts from the Leedam camp.
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