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# Tuesday, 29 September 2009
Tuesday, 29 September 2009 17:02:49 (GMT Daylight Time, UTC+01:00) ( General Life )
Many Canadians think of the environmental impact when it comes to purchasing products, but how many think of being eco-friendly when it comes to planning a funeral? Although this concept is quite new in Canada, there are now 2 cemeteries (one in Brampton ON, the other in Victoria BC) that offer green burial services. This includes such services as quick interment (which makes embalming unnecessary), as well as caskets that are made from natural wood products, or even cardboard, which allow for a natural breakdown of the elements. Wildflowers are used in lieu of traditional gravestones as well.

Many Canadians have not even considered the environmental impact of a traditional burial and/or cremation. Consider that the average burial/cremation has the following impact on its natural surroundings:

•    An average embalming consumes more than 15 liters of formaldehyde; North America typically uses over 4 million liters every year;
•    The equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge could be built every year with the amount of metal used in North America every year to build vaults and coffins;
•    The amount of concrete used in traditional burials every year is sufficient enough to build a 2 lane highway between Montreal and Toronto, and back again;
•    For a typical 10 acre cemetery, enough wood is used that is sufficient enough to build 40 homes; it also typically uses 1,000 tons of casket steel and 20,000 tons of concrete;
•    Pesticides are commonly used in these traditional facilities;
•    The average cremation uses 27 liters of gas, the box containing the body is incinerated at temperatures from 760 to 1150 degrees Celsius;
•    The organs and soft tissue of a cremated body are vaporized and oxidized due to the tremendous heat used, and these gases are discharged through the exhaust system;
•    The United Nations estimates that 0.2% of global emissions of dioxins and furans are contributed through worldwide cremation, as well cremation is considered the second largest source of airborne mercury in Europe.

For those who do not live near a green burial property, there are still ways to reduce the impact on the environment for traditional burials. The Natural Burial Association recommends:

•    Plan  your funeral ahead of time, and let your friends and family know of  your intentions to have an environmentally conscious burial/funeral;
•    Include these burial plans in your will, so that there can be no dispute about your final wishes;
•    When selecting a coffin, try to choose one that is a simply made box out of local sustainably harvested wood, or even cardboard;
•    If cremation has been selected, ask for the removal of teeth that have mercury fillings in them beforehand, so the mercury does not get released into the environment;
•    Consider offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions with carbon credits;
•    Ask for donations to your favorite charity (or environmental project) in lieu of flowers.

For more information on green funerals and the association between funerals and the environment, visit the Natural Burial Association.

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