Likely increase in demand for environmentally friendly funerals

The pandemic and concerns about the environment are likely to have a lasting impact on the arrangement of funerals, according to Suzanne Grahame, CEO of Golden Charter, in an article in the Funeral Service Times.

With many people having to arrange stripped back services for relatives to meet the Covid restrictions and a year of constant focus on the climate, Ms Grahame reckons reducing a funeral’s impact on the environment will be forefront in the minds of all funeral directors.

She says it is only a matter of time before offering low carbon funerals, or zero waste funerals, or even net zero funerals, will be a common expectation among members of the public and that funeral directors who ignore this development run the risk of becoming irrelevant to future clients or might even find themselves at odds with legislation and regulations.

Changes in views

Ms Grahame thinks that demand among consumers requiring environmentally friendly funerals is a shift that could take place this decade. Golden Charter researchers have noted material changes in the way 45-60-year-olds view the world, and they have a significantly different outlook to 60-75-year-olds.

The younger you are, the more important climate change is, and that even for people approaching their 60s, many now feel that becoming carbon neutral is not enough and they want to know what organisations are doing to make a positive contribute to sustainability.

They want to look at how companies work, check that this fits with their ethics and is totally transparent. Packaging and waste is one aspect of this, where the same demands that are placed on retailers to reduce this applies to funeral directors with people looking for a greater emphasis on recycled materials.

Woodland burials

‘Green’ funeral options include woodland burials, burials in cardboard or wicker coffins that disintegrate, not using embalming fluid and trees planted as grave markers, rather than the traditional headstone.

She added: “One of my goals as CEO of the funeral planning business that represents independent funeral directors is to look ahead on their behalf. We want to know what matters to customers so that we can pass that information on. If nothing else, the trends will start to become reality on the front line and when that happens, at least there won’t be any surprises.”

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