This Earth Day, Embrace Change and Ease Into Greener Funerals With Passages

DISCOVER Funeral Industry News Green Funerals Products & Services April 21, 2021
Earth Day 2021

This Earth Day, Embrace Change and Ease Into Greener Funerals With Passages

The world was a very different place before the first Earth Day was observed on April 22, 1970. Gigantic vehicles guzzled and emitted leaded gas. The air was thick with industrial smog. Although belching smokestacks and crowded interstates once signified prosperity, people were starting to realize that if something didn’t change soon, this “progress” would destroy the environment. 

On that first Earth Day, 20 million Americans decided to be that change. In the past 51 years, earth-friendly efforts have exploded, expanding globally and permeating virtually every industry. In the deathcare arena, no company has set a better example for green practices and products than Passages. And there’s no better time to embrace a change to greener funerals than today, Earth Day 2021.

Walking the walk

Chances are that as a deathcare professional, you’ve heard of Passages and their green funeral products. Founded in 1999, Passages was one of the first companies to recognize the public’s growing desire for greener dispositions. Two decades later, Passages continues to innovate and set an example for sustainability and environmental accountability in everything they do.

“We want to look at products from both ends,” says Darren Crouch, president and co-founder of Passages. “You know, how is it made and what’s the impact of producing it, then how is it used and what’s the impact of using it? Our goal is two-fold.”

The beautiful, biodegradable urns, caskets, and shrouds Passages produces are just one aspect of this ultra-green operation. From start to finish, the company’s supply chain, manufacturing, and delivery processes are transparent and eco-friendly. Many products are made from recycled paper or pallets. Orders are flat-packed or nested within one another to minimize volume and shipped in recycled paper and in a carbon-neutral method to minimize emissions. Nearly all catalogs are digital and no longer printed to save paper. And believe it or not, that’s not all … not by a longshot.

“We make donations to conservation organizations when we sell [certain products],” Crouch explains. “We provide a certificate where a family can redeem for a tree and we’ll send them a live sapling.”

In addition,many Passages products are Fair Trade Certified, and most certified products hold the highest Three-Leaf Rating certification from the Green Burial Council.

What it all means

If terms like “fair trade” and “carbon-neutral” are unfamiliar to you, that’s ok. In the scope of American industry, only a handful of companies have embraced the concept of low environmental impact to Passages’ level. However, that doesn’t mean your funeral home shouldn’t take steps to become more green. You can start by adding green products to your display room.

“Just making sure you offer something to families who might be interested in [green funeral products], and also informing them of it,” are great first steps, says Kilian Rempen, Passages’ marketing manager. “A lot of times families just don’t know that these options are available. They see traditional options and they’re not interested in that, so they just default to the cheapest, which would be a cardboard box.”

Rempen is right — consumer demand for greener funeral options is definitely growing. In fact, according to a 2017 National Funeral Directors Association survey, more than 50% of American families want a green disposition. Today, some estimate that number is as high as 90%.

“That’s a huge, huge number to me,” Rempen says. “It’s pretty wild that green is still talked about as if it’s a fringe thing. Even 20 percent would be a massive chunk of the business, but 50 to 90 percent … wow.”

Embrace the change

Statistics like these aren’t just regional trends. Today, more than a billion people across the globe actively participate in the Earth Day movement. Even more are looking for ways to reduce their carbon footprint. That means that YOUR families are most likely among this growing population. Offering them the greener products they want doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing proposition.

“I like to use this analogy,” says Rempen. “If you walk into a Toyota dealership, you can get a Prius or you can get a Tundra. Neither of those customers is really mad that Toyota is offering the other. We definitely believe there will always be a large portion of the population who want traditional funerals, and I don’t think our products really compete with that.”

This Earth Day is the perfect opportunity to add green products to your selection room — and there’s no better partner than Passages to ease you into your new offerings.

Earth Day is the best day to go green

“It’s actually really easy,” to get started with green funeral options, Rempen says. “We offer four different AGF packages. AGF stands for ‘A Greener Funeral.’ There are different packages for different situations. In our experience, those have been the most successful products.”

When you partner with Passages, you receive training on everything from assembly of cremation containers to the benefits of fair trade certification. Passages’ ongoing support means you’ll always be up-to-date on what’s available and in demand and confident in educating your families.

“At the end of the day, people are coming to funeral homes at a really hard time in their lives,” says Rempen. “They’re looking for guidance and advice on something they probably haven’t really thought about. It’s a lot easier for a funeral home to show they’re the right people to take care of a family when they show options that might be valuable and meaningful for that specific person. So whether that’s a traditional burial or a really cool scattering on the coast or a fair trade container. It’s important that you offer the full range.”

If you’ve been on the fence about green funerals, now is the time to take the first step. Don’t let another Earth Day pass without reaching out to Passages.