There are a number of ways to identify a good natural funeral service provider. Many funeral homes offer a number of these services already. The lists below can help you seek out what you need and encourage professionals in your community to take the Natural Step.
FUNERAL ETHICS ORGANIZATION - USA
- # Does the funeral home offer the option of body preparation without embalming (setting features and cleansing only)—as an option to be selected by the family, NOT as a requirement?
- # Does the funeral home offer the opportunity for viewing without embalming—private family viewing at a minimum?
- # Does the funeral home offer some sort of viewing for a larger group after refrigeration perhaps or within a state's mandated time-line?
- # Does the funeral home have biodegradable caskets included on the casket price list?
- # Among the biodegradable caskets, are there low-cost options (to serve all income levels)?
- # Is at least one of the biodegradable caskets locally made?
- # Does the funeral home offer burial shrouds made of natural material?
- # Does the funeral home offer an economical van for body transport rather than requiring the use of a hearse?
- # Does the funeral home provide information on local cemeteries that permit green burials?
- # Is the price for a green option a lot more expensive than the price for an Immediate Burial?
- # If so, what additional goods and services are included? Are those goods and services the family is likely to want?
- # Are package prices being offered for "green" options that do not allow a family to reduce costs by declining certain services or merchandise they might not want?
- # How are the prices at this funeral home compared to the prices at other funeral homes in a 35-mile radius if cost is a concern to the choices a family will make?
- # If the family needs a service that requires embalming such as out-of-the-country shipping, is the funeral home staff trained in using and have on hand non-formaldehyde, non-toxic chemicals?
- # Does the funeral home have a website that includes itemized pricing—both the general price list (GPL) and casket price list (CPL)— so the family doesn't have to drive to get the needed information, saving printed paper as well?
CHARTER FOR THE BEREAVED - UK
Ken West, founder of the UK natural burial movement, drew up a document called the Charter for the Bereaved, and lobbied to put this into general circulation among UK funeral professionals and cemeteries in 1996. We think the majority of its provisions are applicable over here and include its Environmental provisions below.
Every Charter member shall minimise the impact of bereavement upon the environment. This should encourage the greater use of earth friendly materials and environmentally friendly practices, particularly in:
- Ensuring the use of suitable coffins and containers used for burial or cremation. The use of plastics should be minimised with natural materials encouraged wherever possible. Zinc or lead lined coffins cannot be cremated.
- Employing the use of the most environmentally friendly materials in the maintenance of grounds
- Recycling of green waste from grounds maintenance works
- Recycling, where law permits, of any other material for which permission of the applicant for cremation or burial has been obtained
- Ensuring the most effective use of land for burial.
- Where possible providing or partnering a provider of woodland burial
- The use of suitable ground for burial so that water borne pollution shall not occur
- Emissions to air are of great concern to the public. All Charter members should actively seek to reduce emissions to the air by the provision of suitable abatement equipment at the earliest possible time.
- Promoting the most effective use of energy within the crematorium. This could include consideration of heat exchange units to capture energy that is currently wasted.
- Ensuring the optimum usage of crematorium plant and equipment including longer operational hours.
- Advising that clothing the deceased in clothes made of natural fibre/materials is acceptable whereas plastic, nylon and other synthetic materials are not acceptable due to the impact on the environment via emissions.