Green in Life & in Death

Prout Funeral Home

12. Responsible Consumption and Production 13. Climate Action 14. Life Below Water 15. Life on Land

Overview

Prout Funeral Home is paving the way for environmentally conscious persons to die as they have lived, respecting, and caring for the Earth by providing a new option: A Green Funeral. In a traditional funeral and burial, the body is embalmed and interred in either a plot that has been dug by heavy equipment, encased in a cement vault or a mausoleum made of marble or other non-renewable resources. A Green Funeral eliminates the chemicals used in the embalming process and protects our precious forests and natural resources that would be otherwise over sourced. It allows the person to have a positive impact on our environment, even in their death.

Authors

ELIZABETH AMBROSE

ELIZABETH AMBROSE

Sara Vasquez

Sara Vasquez

Yenier Hurtado

Yenier Hurtado

Daniel Tanelli

Daniel Tanelli

School

Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU)

Fairleigh Dickinson University (FDU)

Professor

Aixa Ritz

Aixa Ritz

Innovation

Green Funerals use no embalming fluids. Toxic chemicals used in embalming either seep into the earth or contaminate the air during cremation. Partnering with cemeteries that provide natural burials allows the person to not only stay true to their values to protect the land and air, but to also give back to the earth physically in death. A natural burial would be in a casket that is made of bamboo, wicker, seagrass, or even better, a shroud made of a natural material, like cotton. Furthermore, all materials are sustainably sourced.

The plot is dug by hand by family members and friends. The family often has been taking care of their loved ones before their passing and continues that loving care by washing and preparing the body too. The Green Funeral is a process that not only cares for the person who passed away, their wishes, and the earth but the family and friends as well. In the process of preparing the body and grave, Robert Prout said, “The core family and friends gather together to mourn and adjust to the new norm.”

Green in Life & in Death

Inspiration

Green Funerals were inspired by people who have had a growing desire for sustainable living. All things that live eventually die. Mr. Prout believes that although people may connect to religion, most traditional religious ceremonies do not connect the grieving people to the life and death of their loved ones. “Ceremonies mark life occasions. Rituals, I think, are essential to the human spirit.” He believes that a Green Funeral provides a process that connects the energy of the earth, the loved one, and the grieving family and friends that are needed in our core beings and otherwise deeply missed.

Overall impact

Sustainability is a focus and concern for people all over the world. Businesses, governments, and individuals are seeking ways to not only decrease their carbon footprint, but ways to leave the world a little better. A Green Funeral and subsequent burial is one such way. Mr. Prout has seen an increase in popularity amongst his peers for Green Funerals, citing increased attendance at his presentations with the National Funeral Directors Association. He said that just 5 years ago he would present to 20 people in a small room, and most recently was given the main room, filled with at least that many people staying late (missing lunch!) to ask him questions.

Family members and friends are often more at peace after attending to their loved one's last wishes. They are physically, emotionally, and spiritually part of the burial process. It is a natural, loving way to give back to the earth as their loved one desired. The community is positively impacted as well. Natural cemeteries are interlaced with hiking trails, natural preserves, trees, or stones used as markers, and flowers growing everywhere. There is nothing cold or sterile. The community is free to roam and experience true natural elements.

Business benefit

A traditional funeral is very expensive, running upwards of 15 to 20 thousand dollars. A Green Funeral is a fraction of that price. Despite the decrease in cost, Mr. Prout has not seen a decrease in revenue. He said that people often chose to incorporate Green options in a traditional burial. Most burial plots are lined with cement vaults. If the cemetery allows it, they drill holes in the bottom. This allows a more natural decomposition of a person who has not been embalmed. Many people are interested in this as an option as they feel it brings them back to the earth as intended or designed.

Social and environmental benefit

The benefit to society is clear. The family members and friends have a true connection to the death of their loved one, actively participating in the burial. Mr. Prout said that the mourners leave the cemetery feeling peaceful and connected as well. The greater community has access to open, green acres that will always be preserved, loved, and cared for.

The environment benefits from cleaner air and water. These benefits will in turn contribute to the progress of the UN SDGs 12-15. Goal 12, “Responsible Production and Consumption,” is helped because caskets are not normally produced with sustainable resources, but a greener funeral will revolutionize that standard. Goal 13, “Climate Action,” is supported because without the toxic embalming chemicals being used, the environment is not harmed. Goal 14, “Life Below Water,” and Goal 15, “Life on Land,” are both touched on because there will be less damage to plant and animal life, as well as benefits to sea life when ashes are buried in a consumable way for them. Further advancing the goals is not the sole purpose of green funerals, but it is amazing to see the connection they share through sustainability.

Interview

Mr. Robert Prout, Director

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Prout Funeral Home

Prout Funeral Home

Verona, New Jersey, US

Business Website: https://proutfuneralhome.com/

Year Founded: 1924

Number of Employees: 2 to 10

"A DIFFERENCE IN SERVICE, a difference in personalities, a difference in facilities, and certainly a difference between a family-owned funeral home and a corporately owned funeral home. Our family has been operating Prout Funeral Home since 1924. We understand the differences and traditions of the various ethnic and religious communities that make up our wonderful mosaic of neighbors in North Jersey. Whether traditional burial, cremation, entombment, or a greener service meets your family’s needs, you can count on us to help you create a funeral service that tells the story of a life."