Using Carbon Offsets to Make Cremation ‘Greener’
With global warming weighing on our minds, many of us are seeking out greener options for everything from electric cars to organic food. So, it is not surprising that those trying to live a more environmentally sensitive life want better options in death, too.
More than half of those polled by the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) showed interest in “green funerals,” and demand continues to grow.
Shades of green
There are many “shades of green,” the NFDA says, depending on “consumer preferences, funeral home capabilities, local cemetery practices and regulations and the availability of green products in each market.”
New green funeral practices like “aquamation” (alkaline hydrolysis) and “human composting” (natural organic reduction) have generated a lot of buzz, but have not yet been widely adopted, are not yet legal in every state and are not yet as accessible or affordable as other methods.
Is cremation green?
While burials in the U.S. use millions of feet of hardwoods and gallons of embalming fluid, we know cremation isn’t without its impact.
Cremation uses significant energy (by some estimates, equivalent to a 500-mile car journey). With its rising popularity (now chosen by 57 percent of Americans), the scale of cremation’s impact has grown. While one cremation is just a fraction of an average American’s overall carbon footprint, the numbers add up.
Early on, Solace Cremation’s founders wanted to offer an alternative to conventional funeral practices but understood the impact of cremation’s energy use. That’s why we decided to partner with groups working to fight global warming, making cremation an option for families looking for greener choices.
Using carbon offsets to reduce our impact
We’ve partnered with Carbonfund.org Foundation to help us offset emissions from our direct cremations at no extra cost to our families.
What are carbon offsets?
Carbon offsets help organizations support projects that mitigate climate change. A carbon offset is defined as “an action intended to compensate for the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere as a result of industrial or other human activity, especially when quantified and traded as part of a commercial program.”
Supporting sustainable forestry
Solace’s recent donation helps support improved forest management on more than 175,000 acres in Minnesota, one of the largest privately-owned pieces of land in the state.
The project involves sustainable forestry and regeneration practices to manage the land owned by UPM Blandin. Forest managers use “Smart Forestry” practices that increase carbon storage above levels that would result from more typical practices in the region.
“By supporting this project, Solace is helping offset 320 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions,” Carbonfund.org’s Jarett Emert explained. “This is equivalent to the carbon sequestered by 392 acres of U.S. forest in one year.”
“This is a very beautiful region of Minnesota and the individuals involved are passionate about these forests, their exceptional biodiversity and their community,” Emert said.
The forest management also promotes other benefits like water quality protection, wildlife habitat, and recreation opportunities for the public. The forest’s ecosystem protects 30 miles of trout streams, 47 species of birds and over 30 species of mammals including black bears, grey wolf and moose, Emert said.
Carbonfund.org has over 750,000 individual supporters and 2,000 business and nonprofit partners, together funding 240 carbon reduction and tree planting projects in 42 states and 28 countries.
As a nonprofit, their organization provides financial transparency.
Emert explains that businesses and organizations like Solace that want to help mitigate climate change partner with Carbonfund.org to support third-party verified -projects in the realms of energy efficiency, forestry and renewable energy.
“At Carbonfund.org, our motto is ‘Reduce what you can, offset what you can’t.’ The first step is an individual or organization does what they can to reduce their emissions through a variety of efforts, but what remains of their carbon footprint can be offset by supporting third-party verified carbon offset projects that reduce emissions and benefit our climate.”
Learn more about the UPM Blandin Forest’s management.
See the project’s public documentation here on the American Carbon Registry site.