What Is the Most Environmentally Friendly Funeral?

Respecting the environment at your funeral is a trend that attracts more and more people. Symbol of this eco-friendly funeral towards sustainable development: the cardboard coffin, which is an alternative to the wooden one.

In America, the funeral market could be a godsend for ecological entrepreneurs while a « fashion » has been emerging for a few years now: the desire to create ecological funerals, particularly with the use of cardboard caskets.

They are cheaper and more environmentally friendly, whether for burial or cremation. They seem to attract more and more people when it comes to organizing one’s funeral. Professionals in the sector are gradually entering this market, conscious that the will of their clients is evolving in this direction.

Five times cheaper than wood

It must be said that these coffins of a new kind, democratized in particular in the countries of Northern Europe, have several advantages over the classic version.

First of all, from a cost point of view, these cellulose coffins are cheaper: between $100 for the starting prices up to $600 for the high-end customizable versions. This is about five times less than solid wood caskets sold between $800 and $3,000, or even higher!

But what is of particular interest is the ecological footprint left by cardboard coffins. These coffins are five times lighter than those made of wood but just as resistant, would respect the environment from their manufacturing process to the standards in force: biodegradable recycled cardboard, non-polluting glues, etc…

Green benefits but also limits

Then comes the choice between burial and cremation. Here again, the cardboard coffin would show positive data in terms of ecology and limitation of air and soil pollution. Underground, it would degrade in barely 12 months, while the wooden one could take up to 10 or even 15 years. This is due to the fact that eight times less wood is used compared to a conventional coffin.

In addition, no heavy metals or fluorine would emanate from the incinerated cardboard coffin, but only a low level of nitrogen oxide. This means that far fewer toxic substances are produced when a wooden coffin is burned. In short, cardboard coffins would save kilometers of the forest; millions of healthy trees; millions cubic meters of water, and millions liters of fuel oil.

However, they are forbidden in many crematoriums because apparently some argue that these coffins do not participate in their own combustion, so it is necessary to inject gas to complete incineration; it is then more polluting. The consumption necessary to burn a cardboard coffin is thus higher than that necessary to burn a wooden coffin (10 kW more). Once incinerated, cardboard caskets emit as much dust as a wooden casket.

Our next publication will soon cover another topic to continue the subject of the cardboard coffin. Did you like this blog? We’re just getting started. You will be able to read more in our next publication, more precisely about the advantages and limitations of cardboard caskets. Keep reading our posts, and don’t forget to leave your comments and also to share this page with your friends! See you soon!

What Are the Key Principles of Sustainable Development?

Everybody talks about sustainable development, but nobody says exactly what it means. The term sustainability is broadly used to indicate programs, initiatives and actions aimed at the preservation of a particular resource. However, it actually refers to four distinct areas: human, social, economic and environmental – known as the four pillars of sustainability.

Human Sustainability

Human sustainability aims to maintain and improve the human capital in society. Investments in the health and education systems, access to services, nutrition, knowledge and skills are all programs under the umbrella of human sustainability. Natural resources and spaces available are limited and there is a need to balance continual growth with improvements to health and achieving economic wellbeing for everyone. In the context of business, an organisation will view itself as a member of society and promote business values that respect human capital. Human sustainability focuses on the importance of anyone directly or indirectly involved in the making of products, or provision of services or broader stakeholders (the human capital of the organisation). Communities around the globe may be positively or negatively affected by business activities or impacted through methods used to source raw materials. Human sustainability encompasses the development of skills and human capacity to support the functions and sustainability of the organisation and to promote the wellbeing of communities and society.

Social Sustainability

Social sustainability aims to preserve social capital by investing and creating services that constitute the framework of our society. The concept accommodates a larger view of the world in relation to communities, cultures and globalisation. It means to preserve future generations and to acknowledge that what we do can have an impact on others and on the world. Social sustainability focuses on maintaining and improving social quality with concepts such as cohesion, reciprocity and honesty and the importance of relationships amongst people. It can be encouraged and supported by laws, information and shared ideas of equality and rights. Social sustainability incorporates the idea of sustainable development as defined by the United Nations sustainable development goals. The principle of sustainable development addresses social and economic improvement that protects the environment and supports equality, and therefore the economy and society and the ecological system are mutually dependent.

Economic Sustainability

Economic sustainability aims to maintain the capital intact. If social sustainability focuses on improving social equality, economic sustainability aims to improve the standard of living. In the context of business, it refers to the efficient use of assets to maintain company profitability over time.

Critics of this model acknowledge that a great gap in modern accounting practices is not to include the cost of damage to the earth in market prices. A more recent approach to economics acknowledges the limited incorporation of the ecological and social components in this model. New economics is inclusive of natural capital (ecological systems) and social capital (relationships amongst people) and challenges the mantra of capital that continual growth is good and bigger is better, if it risks causing harm to the ecological and human system.

Environmental Sustainability

Environmental sustainability aims to improve human welfare through the protection of natural capital (e.g. land, air, water, minerals etc.). Initiatives and programs are defined environmentally sustainable when they ensure that the needs of the population are met without the risk of compromising the needs of future generations. Environmental sustainability places emphasis on how business can achieve positive economic outcomes without doing any harm, in the short- or long-term, to the environment. An environmentally sustainable business seeks to integrate all four sustainability pillars, and to reach this aim each one needs to be treated equally.

The principle of the four pillars of sustainability states that for complete sustainability problems to be solved in relation to all four pillars of sustainability and then need be maintained. Although in some cases these may overlap, it is important to identify the specific type of green business to focus on, as the four types present unique characteristics. Businesses need to make a strategic decision about it to effectively incorporate the chosen approach into their policies and procedures.