After almost 20 years working in funeral service, Ms. Ngaio Davis, founder and managing director of KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony, has not only had the privilege of working closely for her community as an end of life guide (licensed as a funeral director and embalmer). She also has first-hand experience with what’s important to the public, as well as the trends in funeral services.
Cremation in British Columbia
The first significant trend to note is that cremation as a form of disposition is by far the most popular choice amongst the majority of BC residents (80% and higher in some jurisdictions). Secondly, more and more BC residents are demanding environmentally friendly options from all commercial and industrial sectors, including funeral-related services. These two trends alone are cause for concern and hope.
Why is the trend cause for hope? Many BC residents want to be proactive with regards to making smart and environmentally beneficial decisions. And the cause for concern?
Legal Barriers to Change
Even with the growing awareness and demand for environmental practices in other aspects of living, we currently only have two forms of legal disposition available in British Columbia. They are flame-based cremation and burial (above and in-ground). Flame-based cremation is a highly polluting form of disposition. Statistics show that on average flame-based cremation uses about 29-kilowatt hours of electricity as well as 285-kilowatt hours of gas.* This is enough to keep an average house in energy for two weeks!
Clearly, the government regulations in BC are not in line with providing consumers with the best options at the end of one’s life.
Eco-Conscious Deathcare Options
KORU Cremation | Burial | Ceremony prides itself as a provider of natural death care and green cremation and burial services. KORU has made deliberate choices to offer caskets that are either eco-friendly in their construction and materials or are made in Canada (rather than in the USA and China where many caskets are made and shipped from).
We provide information and options to help families understand safe options around natural death care practices. We have a wide variety of biodegradable urns for the natural return of one’s ashes back to the earth. KORU takes advantage of every avenue we can to leave a lighter footprint on the planet, including supporting clean and renewable energy sources to be put into the grid for all Canadians to use. This effort helps KORU to offset its involuntary support of the pollution emitted by flame-based cremation.
However, we know that all of these efforts are not enough. If we are to truly live up to our ideal of being a natural and green funeral service provider, it is imperative that we also go the extra mile of advocating for environmentally responsible options of disposition. Currently, very few people (5% or less) choose or can afford to choose green burial.
The Future of Cremation in BC
The good news is that there is a scientifically sound and industry-proven solution to offer a form of cremation which does not contribute to global warming at the same rate that flame-based cremation does. It is the practice of Alkaline Hydrolysis (also known as Aquamation, Water Cremation, Bio Cremation, Resomation).
Alkaline Hydrolysis has been a form of disposition for human corpses since the 1990s. It utilizes potassium hydroxide, water, low heat and pressure to reduce a body to bone remains. Multiple jurisdictions in Canada and the USA (most recently legalized in Washington State) have made Alkaline Hydrolysis an option. However, it is currently not a legal option here in BC.
KORU sees that one of its most significant responsibilities to its clients and the wider community is to advocate for Alkaline Hydrolysis to be a legal form of disposition in BC. In this way, the environmentally responsible values many of us choose to live by can also be our guide when we die.
*Emissions: 573 lbs of CO2 – as per Sandy Mahon – Registrar Funeral and Cremation Services Council of Saskatchewan