I had the opportunity to attend the “Going Green Symposium” at the ICCFA Annual Convention in San Diego. It featured Darren Crouch of Passages International Inc. and www.EarthUrn.com; Joe Sehee of the Green Burial Council, Tim Rivera of Rivera-Hanlon Funeral Home, and Michael Kelley of KZF Design.
This 2.5 hour session was very enlightening about Green Issues and Funeral Service. What I hope is that funeral directors and cemeterians look at the “Green Movement” as an opportunity to further serve their client families and not as a threat – we didn’t embrace cremation in the beginning, let’s not make the same mistake again.
I have been studying the topic of GREENING FUNERAL SERVICE closely and to start I want to point out that there are varying shades of green. It is not “All Green” or “No Green” – funeral homes and cemeteries can slowly incorporate GREEN into their operations. From the outset, there seems to be three areas of focus.
- Green Operations: from an operational and building standpoint, how well are you doing your part for the environment – terms that you will be exposed to “Carbon Footprint” and “LEED” – this is what Michael Kelley spoke on
- Green Service Options and Green Products: from using non-formaldehyde embalming solutions to using refrigeration or dry ice; allowing families more participation with the body and with the service – some of which you already offer – can be seen as green options; environmentally friendly products that are made from renewable resources and are biodegradable – this is what Darren Crouch talked about
- Green Burial: this is not an exclusive option and it should be considered an acceptable choice meaning that types of disposition available are cremation, entombment, green burial, and interment – this is what Tim Rivera and Joe Sehee shared
One thing that was evident was that Joe Sehee and the Green Burial Council are not evil – they are reaching out to the funeral industry and want to educate and partner with willing firms that want to embrace green burial as an alternative – not necessarily a replacement to traditional disposition. Sehee and Rivera have worked closely together in New Mexico and serves as an example of proactive funeral director / cemeterian exploring new options for his client families.
I had the chance to interview Joe Sehee for Funeral Gurus:
NOTE: Another thing that was chiming from the Rivera – Sehee joint presentation was that GREEN DOES NOT NECESSARILY EQUAL CHEAP!
This session – The Going Green Symposium – created by the ICCFA was very educational and enlightening (don’t worry, as my personal choice, I still want traditional burial at Royal Oak Burial Park in Victoria). Linda from ICCFA mentioned that they recorded the session and will make it available for purchase – I feel that it will serve as a great introductory course – Going Green 101.
This list is nowhere complete and nor am I an expert in Going Green. I will though continue to disseminate information to the funeral profession so that you can be more informed and be proactive in being able to serve your families who want these options – because if you don’t, your current (or new) competitor will!