By: Kent Robertson
Increasing cremation rates, new shades of green funerals and shifting government policies are evidence that funeral home owners who recognize and stay ahead of the growing environmental movement will be well-positioned for success in the coming years. But what’s involved in adopting “green” funeral practices and how can funeral businesses of all sizes begin to take steps toward sustainability?
Both the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) and the Cremation Association of North America (CANA) offer a wealth of information and resource links on their websites. The NFDA, for example, now offers members the opportunity to earn a Green Funeral Practices Certificate. The award program recognizes exceptional NFDA funeral homes that have adopted and implemented ethical, sustainable green funeral and business practices in order to become more environmentally responsible to client families, employees and their communities.
Based on our experience at Foundation Partners Group, there are a number of simple ways to incorporate green strategies into your daily business practices, some of which, many funeral homes already have underway. They include:
Embracing Technology: While our team was well on the way to embracing technology in many of our processes before the pandemic, COVID-19-inspired quarantine and social distance requirements accelerated the adoption of technology in funeral organizations of all sizes in 2020. The change from in-person to virtual arrangements and electronic signatures, for example, has eliminated mountains of paper and gone a long way toward preserving our forests and the many benefits trees offer the environment.
Offering Virtual Services: Another side benefit of pandemic-related funeral service practices is the reduction in travel resulting from technologies that allow services to be live-streamed to friends and relatives both near and far. Think about the number of flights not taken and road trips avoided as families remembered and honored loved ones from afar. All signs indicate that funeral homes will continue to offer these value-added services, which today’s educated consumers will continue to demand.
Purchasing Carbon Offsets: The importance of taking responsibility for our impact on the environment is even greater at large funeral service organizations, like ours. All forms of disposition have some impact on the environment and, while cremation may require fewer resources than some other disposition options, our company-wide cremation rate of 86 percent means we’re always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint.
The good news is that there are a number of organizations that sell carbon offsets, which fund carbon offset and renewable energy projects that are working to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. By supporting projects that offset carbon emissions and generate renewable energy, funeral home owners can help to power the innovation and growth we need to transition to a low carbon economy of the future.
Supporting Reforestation: We all can contribute to the quality of our air by supporting nonprofit groups working to restore our nation’s depleted forests. These groups plant trees, which play an essential role in decreasing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
Last month, Foundation Partners Group teamed up with American Forests, the oldest national nonprofit conservation organization in the United States, to plant more than 50,000 trees in honor of the families served by the tireless efforts of our team of funeral service professionals during the pandemic.
As we think about the impact we can make through our professional lives, these are just some of the ways that can begin to make a difference in our environment. This April is the 51st anniversary of Earth Day and a perfect time to reflect on our environmental legacy. FBA
Kent Robertson is President & Chief Operations Officer of Foundation Partners Group. He is an experienced entrepreneur and corporate leader who demonstrates his company’s commitment to partnership, relationships, innovation and compassion on a daily basis. Prior to joining Foundation Partners Group, Kent was Founder and CEO of Fenix Parts, a company specializing in auto parts recycling with annual sales of more than $120M. Prior to Fenix, Kent spent more than 20 years working with Stericycle, the nation’s leading provider of healthcare waste services. He can be reached by phone at 888-788-7526 or [email protected] or via their website at www.foundationpartners.com.