A Greener Death: Earth Hour 2022

Concerns about the environmental impact of traditional burial and cremation practices have led to an increase in more environmentally friendly options.
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As we prepare to flick the lights off for this year’s 15th annual Earth Hour, it seems like a good time to look at the impact, effectiveness and future of the global energy-saving effort.

Earth Hour was started in Australia in 2007 after worrying science presented to the World Wildlife Fund (Australia) highlighted the world’s growing and wasteful use of electricity for non-essential reasons.

It invited citizens, towns, and cities across the world to turn the lights off in their houses, city buildings, bridges and monuments at a pre-determined date and hour to not only save millions of kilowatts of electricity but to highlight the importance of all of us lessening our carbon footprints.

It’s essentially an annual hour of citizen action on global warming.

Last year millions of people in almost 200 countries – first and third world – participated despite the distractions and complications of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.

Lights were dimmed on the Sydney Opera House, the Empire State Building, the Eiffel Tower, the Parthenon, the Brandenburg Gate in Germany, and China’s historic Forbidden City.

The past few years have also been a time when many ordinary citizens and decision-makers in the global community seemed to wake up to the fact that they needed to look more seriously than ever at energy alternatives to fossil fuels to combat climate change.

Greater awareness of the environmental impacts of everyday life has caused many industries to look at how they operate, if not from a planet-saving perspective, then from a financial standpoint.

Quote "Industry examination of greener burial processes, including more energy-efficient crematoriums with lower emissions, are happening in most developed nations."

And the death care industry is no different.

Across the world, as traditional religious practices are on the decline, there is growing awareness that our industry must not only be caring and efficient, but sustainable.

The global pandemic accelerated the need and the appetite for live-streamed funeral services, which has developed from an exception into an accepted way of mourning while cutting down on the global carbon emissions that people travelling to funerals in cars or planes would otherwise have generated.

Industry examination of greener burial processes, including more energy-efficient crematoriums with lower emissions, are happening in most developed nations.

Indeed, rising concerns over the toxic properties involved in a typical burial have led many to explore more environmentally friendly options, seemingly driven in equal measure by local authority demand and customer expectation.

In Australia and many places around the world, green funerals, or natural burials, are on the rise.

According to an article on abc.net.au such funerals might involve burying the body with no grave liner or burial vault, using an environmentally-conscious green coffin, casket or shroud, preparing the body without chemical preservatives and dressing the body in biodegradable clothing.

It’s a trend that’s growing in popularity as shown by the increasing number of green burial sites across Australia.

A study on Green Burials in Britain also tells us the UK has also increased its green burial sites from just one fifteen years ago to over 270 today, and a US study by the Funeral and Memorial Information Council found that 64% of people aged over 40 expressed an interest in green burials –  a 21% increase from a similar survey they conducted in 2010.

While carbon dioxide emissions are an important consideration, there are actually a number of other reasons that make green funerals significantly more beneficial for the environment, none the least being that over 4 million acres of forest is required for the wood to build coffins and caskets annually across the planet.

And as with almost any major industry in the world, those funeral operators who ignore the growing responsibility of environmental impact reduction could find themselves at a disadvantage as people increasingly choose to use more environmentally conscious death care providers.

Earth Hour 2022 will be held on 26 March from 8:30pm – 9:30pm.

It’s an initiative OpusXenta supports through our global operations, and we invite all our clients and associates to join us in flicking the switch to ‘off’ and enjoying a different sort of evening.

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