Green Burial Group Takes Action Against Greenwashed Deathcare

SANTA FE, NM — It should perhaps come as no surprise that, as people dig in to the business of greening every aspect of their work and personal lives, they will also get serious about greening their afterlives.

Over the years, we've reported on a number of greening trends in the deathcare industry, from the latest in green coffins to the greening of the funeral home to a method for recycling embalming fluid to Belgium's search for a greener alternative to cremation.

Now the groundswell of interest in greener deathcare is resulting in what one trade group, The Green Burial Council, sees as an epidemic of greenwashing in the industry.

To try to cure the plague of false claims about green burials, the council today petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to develop stricter standards for claims of environmentally friendly funeral services.

"The green burial movement has opened up choices for consumers in funeral service that only a minority of Americans knew were options just a few years ago," Joe Sehee, Executive Director of the Green Burial Council, said in a statement "But the growing number of associations and for-profit 'dot orgs' entering this arena suggests that a great deal of 'greenwashing' could be coming our way. We'd like to see the FTC take a hard look at all these organizations, starting with our own."

Earlier this month, the Green Burial Council hosted a webinar with the FTC to talk about greenwashing issues in the funeral business, and now the group is urging the government to specifically address green funerals and green burials as part of its updated FTC Green Guides.

The Green Burial Council has created a series of certifications for every aspect of deathcare, including burial products, funeral homes and burial grounds, and wants people shopping for end-of-life services for themselves or loved ones to be wary of unverifiable claims and certifications that are financially tied to companies pushing supposedly green products.

Cemetary photo CC-licensed by Håkan Dahlström.