Honoring Funeral Professionals – Landmark Funeral Home Records Histories of One-Half Century Funeral Businesses!

July 18, 2009

A wonderful post appeared in Connecting Directors that seemed worthy on mention here on Funeral News.  All too often the news is less than inspiring, so perhaps this will provide some encouragement to those who proudly service in the funeral service industry.  We encourage you to visit Connecting Directors and support Ashley Boyd in her noble efforts!

Asley has started a website, www.landmarkfuneralhome.com, to honor family owned funeral homes who have been in business for over 50 years. Her goal is to “record the histories of the people who paved the way for all the funeral professionals serving families today”. With all the bad press the industry has been getting latley it is refreshing to see someone who is honoring those who founded this industry and have continiued to offer services based on honesty and intergratiy. Continue to read below for more information about LandmarkFuneralHome.com.

Letter from Ashley:

In 2006 I began to work on a project for our family owned funeral home.  My father, Patrick, had decided to renovate one of our locations and part of the renovation was adding a café to the layout.  The café would serve as a place for the family to have coffee, refreshments and talk.  His design idea was to have a Legacy Café, the walls would be covered in the history of the surrounding area, our funeral home and our family, specially designed tables held family and funeral home memorabilia under glass tops for everyone to see.  Graphic design is my specialty so he gave me the job of taking all the stories and memorabilia from my grandparents, his parents, who had started the funeral home in 1958, and creating the café.  Little did we know that the project would take place during the last 6 months of my grandpa’s life.

I began to sit and talk with them, recording all of their stories and creating the frames with information by decade.  The first frame, entitled “Beginnings”, quotes my grandfather saying “When someone dies it is like a library burning down, all the information and knowledge is lost… unless you share it.”  The project was an amazing gift, to make sure that the legacy of the people who shaped my life so strongly was recorded.

This inspired me to create my newest project, landmarkfuneralhome.com.  I decided to take the opportunity to allow other family owned funeral  homes, with a rich history and strong family background, to share their stories.  LandmarkFuneralHome.com gives family owned funeral homes a chance to share their dedication for their communities with the rest of the country.

The site is completely free and open to any family owned funeral home that is 50 years old or older.  My goal is to record the histories of the people who paved the way for all the funeral professionals serving families today.

Many of us joined the funeral industry because of a family member or friend who had touched us with their commitment to the grieving community.  I want to honor those who came before us and helped build the foundations of the business we value so much.

If you would like to join Landmarkfuneralhome.com please contact Ashley Boyd via email; AshleyBoyd1@mac.com.  You can also visit the site and fill out a contact form.

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Cafe inside Boyd Family Funeral Home

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Funeral Funding Using Insurance Assignments Made Easy – Funeral Homes Should Not Be Banks!

May 21, 2009

While the focus of Funeral News is to report on death-care related events, we consider our sponsor to be an important asset in the advancement of our cause.  As such, we have asked American Funeral Financial to provide this guest article to our readers.  The following was provided by the fine folks at American Funeral Financial, LLC.

afflogoYou just received a first call.  The family is facing something that, for them, is unusual and, in many cases, unexpected – the death of a loved one.   Not only are they dealing with the emotion of their loss, but are soon to be faced with the costs associated with paying for – what for most is one of the most expensive single purchases of their life.

As funeral directors and/or death care providers the family comes to expect, especially in this day and age, expert service.  What the family may be unprepared for is the immediate need for payment for the goods and services that funeral professionals provide.  On the other hand, unless the family can pay with cash, a valid check or major credit card – you, the funeral service provider, are relegated to becoming a bank.

Times have changed and so have expectations.  Assume for a moment that you were to receive your paycheck on Friday and today is Tuesday.  Could you go to Walmart and purchase groceries with the promise of payment from your check on Friday?  Could secure a cell phone from Verizon with the promise of payment in the future?  The obvious answer to these, or similar questions, is a resounding – NO!  It is no longer reasonable to assume that funeral service providers should be forced to wait for their funds considering the difficulty that many face with insurance assignments today.

Due to the rising costs of goods and services, more and more funeral homes and cemeteries are requiring payment in full prior to providing funeral services getcashnow-newor making the interment.  With the economy today, we find more and more families are relying on insurance as the funding vehicle to pay for those services.  Unfortunately, it can take weeks or even months for the insurance company to pay the claim to the beneficiary or funeral home.  In addition, the paperwork associated with funeral financing via an insurance assignment is becoming more complicated and time consuming, taking valuable time away from doing what you do best – serving families.

American Funeral Financial has created an industry leading proprietary system that takes the burden off of you and your staff and makes the process of funeral funding through insurance assignments easy.

  • No longer do you have to verify the insurance assignment with the insurance company – American Funeral Financial does that for you.
  • No longer do you have to due the burdensome paperwork – American Funeral Financial does that for you.
  • No longer do you have to have experience waiting for your funds – American Funeral Financial pays you the next day following verification.

The process is simple.  Once you have signed on with American Funeral Financial – Your Funeral Funding Experts – you’ll have access to our simple web-based entry system.  Working with the American Funeral Financial web system is easy.  Sign in and in less than 10 minutes you will have the paperwork done and the verification process begun.  American Funeral Financial does the verification for you.  Once you have been notified that the assignment can be done, you will have the beneficiary sign the paperwork (that we prepared for you on the web) and we will fund your services.  It is that simple!  Fees to AFF are competitive and come directly from the policy assignment proceeds so funeral homes and cemeteries are paid their full fee for services rendered.  There is no cost to the funeral home or cemetery.

No waiting for your funds, no hassle, no problems!  American Funeral Financial is a full service firm that is run by professionals with years of experience in the death-care industry.  AFF knows what you need when you need it.

But there’s more!  American Funeral Financial knows that you need your money for services rendered.  You do not need to be the bank!  Likewise, so do the beneficiaries.  Therefore, as part of the process – when your firm has signed up with American Funeral Financial – the funeral funding experts – the beneficiaries of the life insurance policies being assigned are eligible to have advanced to them the remainder of the policy to take care of any short term funding needs that they may have personally.  That’s right – you are paid and they get the funds advanced to them for the remaining part of the policy (assuming they want a personal cash advance).

Our team working for your team when you need it the most – because the cash you have today can have a profound effect on the success of your business tomorrow!


Funerals – High Costs, Add-On’s and Your Last Chance To Be A Big Spender! Is The New York Times Article Accurate?

April 21, 2009

It’s always interesting to read about funeral perceptions and where the industry / profession is headed.  A New York Times article written by Gabrielle Glaser addresses that very issue.  The question is – based on what we are hearing – how much truth is there to the idea that folks are spending the same or more for their funerals – since it’s the last thing they can do for their loved one?nytlogo152x23

Let’s take a look at sections from the article and perhaps you can comment with your thoughts.

EVEN in these hard times, Peter Moloney, a funeral director, believes that people should have what they want.

The funeral industry is offering customized products — including urns with a theme.

Although not all of his customers can fully express their wishes, Mr. Moloney and his brothers, who own six funeral homes on Long Island, have worked hard to arrange customized send-offs. And the touches are as varied as the customers themselves.

Bike lovers pay an extra $200 or so to take their last ride in a special hearse towed by a Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Gardeners select  19death4-190wildflower seed packets to include with their funeral programs. One gentleman wanted to be remembered for comforting his grandchildren with ice cream, so, after the funeral, mourners were greeted by a man in a Good Humor truck, handing out frozen treats.

“You have to give people something special,” says Mr. Moloney, who is 44 and a fourth-generation funeral director. “If you’re not, someone else will be. That means adjusting to what people want today.”

Now it is true that Long Island may not be main street America, but it is interesting to ponder if those who live outside of the more affluent areas of our country feel the same when it comes to add-on’s and personalization with added costs.  Prior to the economic downturn, there was evidence that personalization and memorial add-on’s were helpful in increasing the average traditional funeral.  The effect of which was, for most firms, a way to stabilize their revenue loss from increasing cremation.  The NY Times article goes on to say:

Even in a tough economy, of course, people in the funeral business have something that executives in many other industries don’t: a guaranteed, and expanding, pool of customers.

“The honest-to-goodness truth of the matter is that everybody does die,” says Arvin Starrett, a spokesman for the National Funeral Directors Association and the owner of Starrett Funeral Home in Paris, Tex.

Revenue in the American funeral industry will grow 1.2 percent this year, to $20.7 billion, estimates Toon van Beeck, a senior industry analyst at IBISWorld, the research firm. That’s down from a 2 percent gain last year — but, hey, it’s still growth when companies in other industries are reporting double-digit losses.

Americans may be living longer than ever, but the reality of a graying nation is stark. The annual death rate of about 2.5 million has been rising about 1 percent a year, and is expected to spike in the early 2020s as older baby boomers reach their mid-70s.

A NEW DIRECTION?

Many firms are reporting an increase in cremation that placing accelerating pressure on their traditional revenue stream making it harder to support the large facility required for traditional funerals and the debt load associated with those buildings.  On average cremation is one-third or less the cost of a traditional funeral and is becoming increasing popular as evidenced by the inclusion of popular movies like the “Bucket List.”

“It’s rather amazing the death care references made in that movie,” states American Funeral Financial VP Chuck Gallagher – formerally a sales VP with Stewart Enterprises.  “Not only was cremation embraced with ease, but both characters romanced the idea that their remains could be placed on a mountain far from where any family member could visit or remember.  For that matter, their remains were placed in a ‘Chock Full of Nuts’ container.”

The Times article goes on to state:

Some insiders suggest that the business could be headed for a restructuring as radical as that sweeping through the music or newspaper industries, especially as baby boomers approach their final act.

The same generation that questioned convention in sex, birth and marriage will probably do the same in death care, says Char Barrett, 48, a funeral director in Seattle and the owner of A Sacred Moment, a business that helps families prepare the bodies of loved ones at home. For a home funeral, she charges $1,450 to $2,595.

“It’s your funeral, your choice — and the industry needs to recognize that,” Ms. Barrett says. “Or it can stay in the box, and drive itself out of business.”

A PREFERENCE for cremation is already transforming the funeral industry in the United States. Cremations will account for a projected 38 percent of all deaths this year, compared with 26 percent in 2000, according to the Cremation Association of North America, an industry group based in Chicago.

And if you care a little bit less about ceremony, and are ready to allow your body to go up in smoke, then all of the trappings of traditional funerals matter less as well — like fancy caskets, says Jerry Sullivan, a second-generation funeral director in Chicago.

“Back in the day, families might spend $10,000, $12,000 on a solid African mahogany casket, have an all-out wake and such,” he says. “Those days are over.”

Today, many funeral directors offer hardwood or metal rental coffins for a short period before cremation, Mr. Sullivan says. He charges roughly $1,000 to rent a hardwood casket for a daylong viewing; a body is placed in a combustible container of cardboard or soft wood, and inserted into the rental coffin lined with fabric.

“We were early adapters,” says Mr. Sullivan, who has rented coffins since 1976. “You want to stay alive in this business, you anticipate your customer’s needs.”

For those who are budget-minded, but don’t want to rent, they can buy coffins at Costco, which offers a selection from $924.99 to $2,999.99.

The Times article (you can read the full article here) is full of ideas that are catching on in various markets and circles.  The following questions remain:

  1. Are families spending the same amount or more for funerals today as compared to two years ago?
  2. How significantly is cremation rising in your market?
  3. Are low cost alternative – Costco – affecting your business?
  4. Do you think as Baby Boomers age and die their generation will radically change the market place for funeral goods and services.

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME.


Grave Expectations – Meredith Vieira’s Comments on a Today Show Interview…

April 15, 2009

Funny what one little book can do to change a life.  Sue Bailey and Carmen Flowers, with their new book: GRAVE EXPECTATIONS are doing just that.  grave-expectations-bookTheir website states:

It was on the drive home from a deadly funeral that we began to toy with the idea of writing this book. Once we got home, and drank enough champagne, we made the commitment to write it.

Life is such a rich, complicated, joyous, mysterious wild ride. Everyone has stories to tell and lessons to pass on, and what better way to do that than when you’re alive? It was your life; your funeral is the one time you can do and say absolutely whatever you want.

As of this writing, there is no alternative to dying. (You can be cryogenically frozen, but we wouldn’t call that life.) Since there’s no getting out of it, why not go ahead and plan your fantasy going “away” party? Is it just us or have you been seeing too many, “She’s not dead… she’s just away” bereavement cards? Of course you can’t really be too upset since according to the card she’s coming back.

We were destined to write a book about planning one’s own funeral. Between us, we have personally experienced three weddings, two divorces (all Carmen) and five suicides of close family members. We’ve nursed four relatives and friends through deaths due to cancer. We’ve survived cancer (Sue) and meningitis (Carmen) and if all that is not enough, we are both orphans. In spite of these experiences, or because of them, we do not fear death at all . . . we appreciate life that much more.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR FUNERAL (or whatever you wish to call it)?

As the population ages and the Baby Boomers come to realize that they have fewer Christmases ahead than they’ve had behind, we all begin to think (from time to time) about our mortality and how we might be remembered by those who are left behind.  Considering the publicity that this book has received, it seems clear that this is on the mind of many, and those who do the interviews are not immune.

Meredith Vieira had these questions on her mind as well.  Here are her comments from her blog:

This morning we did a segment on planning your own funeral, which was inspired by a new book “Grave Expectations.” It was written by two ladies who, after attending one too many funerals that lacked any personal warmth, decided (over one too many glasses of champagne) that people need to change the way they feel about death.

Who better to handle funeral arrangements than the dearly departed…before they go? I know this sounds morbid, but I’ve decided it makes a lot of sense. And it takes the burden off loved ones left behind, allowing them the chance to grieve and celebrate the person who has died without worrying about the funeral arrangements.

In preparing for the segment, I’ve done a lot of thinking about my own farewell. I know I would prefer a party atmosphere with 60’s music (heavy on the Beatles) and lots of Toasted Head Chardonnay. I would want my family and friends to share funny stories along with some sentimental ones. For example, it’s fine to bring up the time I walked half a block with my skirt tucked inside my panty hose after using a public bathroom…but counter it with the time I saved a man who was choking on a chicken bone (ok…maybe that didn’t really happen, but it’s my funeral so I’m allowed to take a few liberties).

I also like the idea of a “green funeral.” even though the thought of a cardboard casket would take some getting used to. Actually, I haven’t decided what to do with my body and it’s become a bone of contention with my husband, Richard, since he thinks I’m going first (romantic, huh?). I’m claustrophobic, so the idea of being in a box, even one that disintegrates, makes me sweat.
And the whole notion of being cremated leaves me cold. My husband keeps saying, “You won’t feel anything,” but how does he know? And according to his game plan, I’m the one who will find out first!

I have considered giving my body to a medical school, but Richard says the students will prop me up, put a party hat on me, and take a lot of goofy pictures. I like a good party as much as the next gal, but his warning has given me pause. Just the same, I know I have to deal with the inevitable. And I hope you start to ponder your hereafter, too. If nothing else, it will remind you how precious life is.  Just drink a few too many glasses of champagne first.  So long, for now…

To Sue and Carmen – CONGRATULATIONS on your new book.  For those who are interested click here to purchase your copy.

To our readers – feel free to comment on just how you would like to be remembered.  YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

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Green Burial – News Coming Out of Texas. Land Conservation and Burial Combined – A Novel Idea!

April 15, 2009

The Parks and Wildlife Department in Texas plans to become the first government agency in the U.S. to let families lay cremated remains in protected forests for a fee to help the state buy more land for conservation.

Texas will cater to people concerned about environmental impacts of the “death-care industry,” Ted Hollingsworth, the agency’s director of land lens1295546_mountain_springs_sunsetconservation, said in an interview.

“If tens of thousands of people want to take advantage of this opportunity annually, it could easily double the rate at which we’re adding lands to state parks,” Hollingsworth said.

In a Bloomberg article Joe Sehee, Executive Director of the Green Burial Council, had comments that the $12 billion-a-year U.S. funeral industry will need a makeover to meet new demand for back-to-Earth burials and low- energy, low-emission cremations. Customers are now curious about products from biodegradable embalming fluid to caskets made of recycled cardboard.

Consumers are forcing changes on the industry, Sehee said. He expects to have advised cemetery and funeral associations on eco-burials in more than half of the 50 U.S. states by year-end.

“A year ago we had a dozen providers in our network,” Sehee said in an interview. “We have more than 300 now. What’s changed in a year is people see this as an opportunity.”

Champion Company of Springfield, Ohio, will introduce a non-toxic biodegradable embalming fluid this month that provides “reasonable temporary preservation,” said James Bedino, head of research and development. The product, Enigma, challenges the industry’s use of toxic formaldehyde, steel caskets and concrete vaults, all meant to prevent decay.

Cremation, already seen as a more environmental option than a traditional burial, is getting even greener, said Paul Rahill, president of the cremation 00000581division of Matthews International Corp., a casket supplier. Pittsburgh-based Matthews this summer will introduce its newest model of a recycled cardboard casket. The product avoids the use of virgin hardwood, weighs half as much as a wood casket and costs 75 percent less. Cremations in the U.S., which account for 37 percent of burials, are rising by 1 percent a year, Rahill said.

“Their choices have been pretty limited in the past,” Rahill said in an interview. “I can do a cherry paper veneer that looks almost like a cherry hardwood casket.”

Matthews has also developed computer-controlled heat sensors that make cremation furnaces up to 40 percent more energy-efficient. The company later this year plans to install the first bio-cremation system in the U.S. that will use hot water, pressure and an alkali chemical instead of combustion.

“One of our biggest markets is what we call ‘mantle people,’” Ziadie said in an interview. “Cremated remains that are sitting on the mantle with loved ones. They may be there for years. The family may be looking for closure.”

Texas officials are completing a contract with the Green Burial Council to let funeral directors charge a fee for scattering cremated remains in state parks. Part of the revenue will help Texas buy land for conservation.

Green burials represent a small but growing portion of the $12 billion spent annually in the U.S. on funeral and burial services, said Jessica Koth, spokeswoman for the National Funeral Directors Association. In a 2007 survey by AARP, the Washington-based advocacy group for people 50 and older, 21 percent said they were interested in green burials. That number jumped to 43 percent in a 2008 survey, Sehee said.

Given a choice would you prefer a “Green Burial” for a deceased family member of yours?

YOUR COMMENTS ARE WELCOME!

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National Funeral Directors Association Responds To Washington Post Article

April 8, 2009

There is little doubt that the failing economy has had its effect on families far and wide – meaning that many who have experienced the loss of loved one(s) find that they are cutting back on the funeral service and burial arrangements.  A Washington Post article has drawn the attention of the public and the National Funeral Directors Association.

Feeling that the Post’s article was one sided and portrayed the news conference conducted by several funeral directors inaccurately, the NFDA issued a istock_000001773919smallstatement of clarification.  The statement is reproduced below:

On March 31, NFDA held a press conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C., in conjunction with the association’s annual Advocacy Summit. The purpose of the press conference was to candidly convey to the media the results of an informal survey NFDA recently conducted about the impact of the present economic crisis on funeral consumers.

Unfortunately, an employee of the Washington Post chose to grossly misrepresent the statements and insights offered by several licensed practitioners serving as NFDA spokespersons via an article and an online video posted the following day. The video, in particular, was a pure fabrication that resorted to a cut-and-paste method of editing NFDA spokesperson responses and placing them in conjunction with questions not asked during the press conference. Also deliberately misstated and misleading is the implication that NFDA sought “bailout funds” from the federal government for practitioners. Clearly expressed during the press conference is that the association briefly discussed the idea internally about seeking additional federal funds to help indigent or unemployed consumers offset funeral and burial costs during the present economic crisis – another fact this employee chose to misrepresent.

It remains unclear if the views conveyed in both the article and video reflect the biased, ill-informed perception this employee holds about funeral service or if his intent was to offer some sort of ill-conceived “April Fool’s” joke that failed miserably.

Regardless, NFDA regrets that this individual blatantly chose to perform such a disservice to readers of the “Washington Post” by providing a slanted point of view, perpetuating stereotypes and resorting to broad-brush, hackneyed clichés instead of reporting the facts. NFDA General Counsel T. Scott Gilligan has contacted the Washington Post, expressed the facts and requested the immediate removal of the video.

NFDA encourages consumers and licensed professionals alike to read another article that resulted from the same press conference, which conveys an unbiased reflection of the statements and insights offered, at http://www.newsobserver.com/1573/story/1467535.html. More information about the present impact of the economy on funeral consumers is also available by calling the NFDA Public Relations Department at 800-228-6332.

The News and Observer’s report states the following:

Funeral directors are turning down their thermostats, doing their own laundry and not buying new hearses, according to a new National Funeral Directors Association survey.

The reason: Funeral home revenues are weakening as more consumers opt for cremations, cheaper caskets, shorter viewing periods and cheaper wakes. Also suffering are trusts and stock funds in which funeral homes invest money from clients who prepay for their funeral arrangements.

While is it important to fairly represent comments made at the meeting, one thing that seems to be glossed over is the very real loss of trust fund assets.  Not only have funeral trust funds suffered losses as the economy has scaled back, but so have perpetual care trust funds used by cemeteries to provide maintenance.

Many states require certain minimum funding amounts for perpetual care trust funds.  If a cemetery perpetual trust fund falls below the minimum established by law then the state would naturally require the organization to fund the deficit.  Reports indicate that many firms, especially larger ones whose trust funds were invested more aggressively have lost massive amounts and may be facing a cash shortfall when make up funding is required.

Hopefully, we will soon see an economic turn around that will reduce the impact on families, firms and trust funds.

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Green Burials or Green Funerals – How Green is Green?

April 8, 2009

Everything these days seems to be going “green.”  I recall last spring a nationwide supplier of flowers and plants ran an add campaign that promoted the “pot” the plants were placed in.  They weren’t saying how beautiful their plants were or how wonderful your yard would look when adorned with an assortment of their plants.  Rather, they were touting that the containers the plants were placed in could be buried right there in your yard and that they Printwere biodegradable.

Well, it seems that the “Green” movement has taken root in the funeral and cemetery industry.  Recently the National Funeral Directors Association released a question and answer series on “Green Funeral Service Questions and Answers.” While it needs to be stated that there is no licensing organization that has defined a “Green Funeral or Burial” – the NFDA is taking the lead in addressing questions about how funeral service professionals deal with the growing demand for “Green” products and services.

Below is a reprint of the NFDA Questions and Answers:

What is a green funeral?

A green funeral incorporates environmentally-friendly options to meet the needs of a family requesting a green service. A green funeral may include any or all of the following basic options: no embalming or embalming with formaldehyde-free products; the use of sustainable biodegradable clothing, shroud or casket; using recycled paper products, locally-grown organic flowers, organic food; carpooling; arranging a small memorial gathering in a natural setting; natural or green burial.

What is natural or green burial?

In a “purist” natural or green burial, the body is buried, without embalming, in a natural setting. Any shroud or casket that is used must be biodegradable, nontoxic, and of sustainable material. Traditional standing headstones are not permitted. Instead, flat rocks, plants or trees may serve as grave markers; some cemeteries use GPS to mark the locations of gravesites. A “natural or green burial” may also simply mean burial without embalming, in a biodegradable casket without a vault, when permitted by a cemetery.

What is a green cemetery?

A green cemetery is a burial site that does not permit vaults, non-biodegradable caskets or embalming chemicals. It uses no herbicides, pesticides or irrigation for maintenance of the cemetery grounds. Any material used at a green cemetery must meet the goal of replenishing the earth. There are cemeteries in the U.S. that accommodate both conventional burial practices and vaultless burial on their premises; others incorporate some features of a green cemetery such as sustainable landscape design and natural memorialization.

The first green burial in the modern sense took place in England in 1993; in the ensuing 15 years, the number of green burial grounds in the UK has grown to nearly 40. In the United States, one of the first natural burial grounds was opened in 1996 in western South Carolina. Some green cemeteries are established as conservation areas in accordance with specific state laws. There are now green cemeteries in 10 states – California, Florida, Georgia, Maine, New Jersey, New York, South Carolina, Texas, Washington, and Utah – with more under development. The resource section at the end of this Q&A provides a link to U.S. green burial information.

When a cemetery does require a vault, do I have “green” alternatives?

Check first with the cemetery to determine what is allowed, such as:

  1. Casket protectors or grave liners that are open on the bottom, such as those used in Orthodox Jewish funerals, so that the body comes into contact with the earth.
  1. Using a regular vault that is turned upside-down.

What about cremation? Is it considered “green”?

In general, cremation is not considered “green” because the cremation process uses nonrenewable fossil fuels, even though cremation does use fewer resources than conventional forms of disposition. Cremation also produces airborne emissions. However, cremated remains do not need to be interred in a cemetery, which reduces land use.

What is a green funeral home?

A green funeral home is a business that operates in an environmentally-responsible manner. Owners and staff comply with environmental protection, health, and safety laws and regulations, and follow NFDA’s environmental, health, and safety best practices. Green funeral homes are energy-efficient and follow resource-saving practices, operating in a manner that is sustainable. Sustainable in this sense means business practices that do not deplete resources and that only will have minimal impact on the environment.

It is interesting that when one searches for Green Burial one of the first sites that arises is the title “Carolina Green Burials” which is the site for cremation-sc.com.  As pointed out by the NFDA cremation is not “green”.  By some accounts it takes between 9 to 19 gallons of gas to properly cremate a body.  Hence the use of petrocarbons and the emissions released do not meet the standard of “Green” funeral or burial.  The argument in favor of cremation is it does not require the use of embalming fluid (although many bodies are embalmed before cremation takes place) and the lack of need for a specific burial space.  “Green” however, provides the natural return to the earth and hence the use of space is insignificant as, over time, it can be reused.

While there are many sources for information -for more information about “Green” burial contact Joe Sehee, who is the founder/executive director of the Green Burial Council.  He has worked in the green burial field since 2002 and the deathcare industry since 1999.  A senior fellow with Environmental Leadership Program Fellow and a PERC “enviropreneur,” Joe also consults land trusts, park service agencies, and private landowners interested in developing burial grounds as a strategy for protecting natural areas.  He can be reached at 888-966-3330.

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