Most everyone knows that daily living can impact the environment in countless ways. Now, more and more people are realizing that death care can, too. Accordingly, a study performed by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) revealed that 54 percent of all Americans are now considering a green burial. As these options grow in popularity and people become increasingly environmentally conscious, you may want to seriously consider incorporating eco-friendly after-care and burial alternatives into your offerings.
Reducing Your Carbon Footprint
The Green Burial Council reports that burials result in more than 20 million feet of wood, 1.6 million tons of concrete, 64,500 tons of steel, and 17,000 tons of other metals being placed into the ground each year. These are natural resources that unfortunately can never be recovered. Natural burials eliminate this wastefulness by providing biodegradable caskets made from alternative materials such as willow, cardboard, or pine instead. Individuals can even be wrapped in cotton burial shrouds to minimize the amount of materials required.
Funeral home workers are exposed to more than 4.3 gallons of embalming fluid each year. Some of that inevitably ends up in the water supply during the arterial embalming process. Green burials can eliminate the need for embalming fluid altogether by using alternate methods of preservation or even skipping them completely. Not only is this eco-friendlier, but is also safer for those who care for the deceased.
In 2017, the NFDA reported that the median cost of an adult funeral with viewing and vault was $8,755. A green burial can eliminate many of the costs associated with embalming and body preparation on top of offering families less expensive options for containers. The cost of a green funeral could be as much as $3,000 less than a traditional service.
Compassion and death care service go hand in hand. Funeral directors often face situations where people pass unexpectedly without having made prior arrangements. This can leave the deceased’s loved ones in a tough spot when it comes to paying for final expenses. Offering a green burial can be a great way to alleviate some of the financial burden for families, while still allowing a full range of services to provide their loved one a proper send-off.
There are still plenty of costs associated with green burials (especially as it is a relatively new movement) and viewing, funeral, and memorial services can remain largely unchanged. While the green funeral trend is quickly growing in popularity, these practices are far from widespread. Funeral homes that offer eco-focused services may gain a competitive edge over homes that opt to focus solely on traditional options, especially if they are located in an area with few green options, if any.
Achieving Peace of Mind
By taking advantage of green funeral options, individuals planning ahead—and their families—can find comfort in knowing their passing will not negatively impact our environment. Many people also take refuge in the fact that their green burial will allow them to become one with nature. Those who have lived well take pride knowing they have also died well. Green funeral options may offer solace to those who wish to minimize their environmental footprint in death as they did in life.
Expanding, Not Replacing, Traditional Services
Offering some environmentally friendly burial or cremation options doesn’t mean the death care industry will abandon its tried-and-true traditional services. Some people will never be completely sold on the idea of green funerals or cremation, but an increase in inquiries from families seeking eco-friendly and economical alternatives is already occurring within the industry.
About MKS&H: McLean, Koehler, Sparks & Hammond (MKS&H) is a professional service firm with offices in Hunt Valley and Frederick. MKS&H helps owners and organizational leaders become more successful by putting complex financial data into truly meaningful context. But deeper than dollars and data, our focus is on developing an understanding of you, your culture, and your business goals. This approach enables our clients to achieve their greatest potential.