Many people choose cremation or green burial as a way to make less of a negative impact on the environment when they die. These kinds of options, which cost less than traditional funeral methods, almost always rely on minimum preservation (as in, no embalming) and use materials for caskets and urns that don’t strain our world’s natural resources.
For those who want to take the idea of ecological burial one step further, you can go above and beyond a regular green funeral. Carbon neutral cremations allows you to not only dispose of your remains in a way that is easy on the environment, but you are also invited to offset the carbon emissions of cremation through an ecologically sound contribution.
What is Carbon Neutrality?
Carbon neutral movements can be found in all areas of our modern world. The idea is that everything we do in life (and in death) has some kind of impact on the environment in the form of carbon emissions, or the amount of carbon released into the atmosphere because of manufacturing and using up resources.
Because it is virtually impossible to avoid carbon emissions altogether, the idea is that you measure your carbon footprint and then purchase carbon credits to offset that footprint. These credits are used to plant forests and trees, fund greenhouse gas emission reduction projects, and help foster energy conservation efforts. By balancing the good with the bad, you are then able to achieve a “neutral” carbon level.
Cremation and Carbon Emissions
Carbon neutral cremation takes the idea of carbon neutrality and applies it to the funeral industry. While cremation is better for the environment than a traditional burial with a casket and a burial vault and embalming, the truth is that it still releases around 110 pounds of greenhouse gas per cremated body (by comparison, replacing your home’s light bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs will save about 450 pounds of greenhouse gas). So while the amount is fairly small, it still equals about 27 pound of coal being burned directly into the air.
If you would like to participate in a carbon neutral cremation, you typically have two options. The first is to find a provider who specializes in this kind of funeral planning. They will be able to let you know exactly what the carbon footprint of that cremation is, and sell you a carbon offset certificate to balance it out.
However, if your crematorium doesn’t provide this service, you can still take steps to reduce your carbon footprint on your own. You can find a reputable provider of carbon credits and make the purchase on your own. Be wary, however, of scam artists pretending to sell carbon credits, since they aren’t heavily regulated at this time and it can be easy for thieves to set up false storefronts.