Category Archives: Blog

What you can do

–          Ask questions about the environmental impact of your choices with regard to final disposition of remains.  Choose a funeral home that responds in an appropriate manner.

–          Remember that the “greenest” choice is not always the least expensive

–          Consider an In Memoriam donation to an environmental fund

–          Help the Funeral Information Society of Ottawa (FISO) compile more detailed information on methods of dealing with human remains as it relates to their environmental impact in Ottawa.  If you have information on this from a local funeral home, cemetery, or religious organization, please contact us at fiso at ncf dot ca (in the usual form for an email)


Should our last act be one of pollution?

Death can, and should, connect to life

Over the millennia we have put our dead to rest in caves, charnal grounds/”sky burials” and in the earth, sometimes moving the bones after the body decomposed.  In North America this has narrowed to a small range of choices, primarily burial and cremation, which often have a high environmental cost.

Green burial is one way to reverse this trend.  It is a way of caring for the dead with minimal environmental impact that furthers legitimate ecological aims such as the conservation of natural resources, reduction of carbon emissions, protection of worker health, and the restoration and/or preservation of habitat.  Many methods, old and new, have been used or proposed under the title “green burials”:  burial in the ground without embalming, elaborate casket or grave liners; cremation; resomation (alkaline hydrolysis in a solution) and cryomation/ promession (freeze-drying).  Each has advantages and disadvantages to the funeral industry, the public, and the environment.

The choice of green burial, also called direct or natural burial, does not affect mourning rites, although it is usually associated with an immediate burial, no or limited viewing, and a memorial service at a later date.

Green burial usually includes:

–          embalming, if used at all, is done with organic non-toxic fluids.  Refrigeration is often used instead;

–          interment in either a cloth shroud or a biodegradable coffin finished in natural oil with a biodegradable interior and no metal.   These come in a variety of costs.  No grave liners, and no concrete vaults;

–          burial to support a natural eco-system, often in woodland settings in “natural cemeteries” which do not use pesticides;

–          headstones (which consume energy during their production and transportation), if used, are fashioned from native fieldstones; shrubs and trees, rocks or native plants may be used instead.

The Green Burial Council, , which certifies cemeteries, funeral homes and products, does not list any certified services in the Ottawa area.  Some funeral homes may provide environmentally-friendly options.

Next post:  what you can do

Green burials

Hello, everyone,

My name is Judith Wouk, and I am the Green Burial co-ordinator for the Funeral Information Society of Ottawa.

I have just agreed to blog from time to time on issues related to green burials.  This first post is to see if there is any interest, and, frankly, to see if I can figure out how the system works.