Is Cremation Environmentally Friendly?

Is Cremation Enivronmentally Friendly

Over the past few years, cremations have surpassed burials as the most popular end-of-life disposition. As a complement to this shift, many options have been springing up touting creative things you can do with a loved one’s cremated remains, such as pressing them into a vinyl record, adding them to a marine reef or having them compressed into jewelry.

Cremation, along with these creative ways to honour the loved one who has passed away, is often marketed as a more environmentally friendly option than traditional embalming and casket burial. Concern for the environment, in addition to economic considerations, may be driving some of the increase in popularity.

It’s important to note that the cost of a funeral and the disposition you choose can vary significantly based on the choices you make though. You could choose a simple graveside burial with no service which would be less costly than cremation and having the cremated remains turned into a firework. The choices you make will also significantly impact the eco-friendliness of your disposition.

While cremation is considered the more eco-friendly option of the two disposition choices currently available in Calgary, neither option is without their environmental footprint. If you are looking for ways to reduce your footprint when choosing cremation, here are some suggestions:


  • Choose a casket made of renewable, non-toxic materials, or consider a shroud of organic material such as cotton or silk. A casket is never required for cremation, but most crematoriums do require a body to be held in some kind of rigid, leak-proof, consumable container. We can make inexpensive cremation caskets available to you or you may also furnish your own at no extra charge.
  • If you choose to bury your loved one’s cremated remains, consider purchasing a biodegradable urn. If you choose to bury your loved one’s cremated remains in a grave plot, you may wish to make use of a biodegradable urn made from cardboard, wicker or unlacquered wood. Metal, concrete or clay urns will not biodegrade, however you may wish to purchase one of these for use as a scattering or storing container. If you are concerned about how the urn was manufactured, you may wish to make a carbon offset contribution to mitigate its environmental impact. Ask our team for the options we have available.
  • Choose a newer crematorium, like Country Hills Crematorium, that has a more fuel-efficient retort which will result in less emissions.
  • Recycle medical parts. Ask your cremation provider if they will remove and recycle any medical implants, pacemakers or prosthetic limbs prior to cremation. The team at Country Hills Crematorium does this automatically as part of our service.
  • Choose the eco-friendly options available at your local cemetery if you choose to bury cremated remains. The new Prairie Sky Cemetery in SE Calgary has some great options. Let our team know if you would like more information.
  • Alternative forms of disposition such as promession and alkaline hydrolysis are being developed, though promession has yet to be commercially developed, and alkaline hydrolysis is only available in very limited places throughout North America at this time. It is expected that this will become a more popular option in the future though.


Over the past several years, newer, more fuel-efficient crematorium retorts have significantly lowered the amount of carbon dioxide released in the cremation process making it a great option for those seeking the least impact on the environment upon their death.

If you would prefer to choose a burial for your end of life disposition, don’t fret, there are also many ways that it’s impact can be reduced. Many myths also exist around some of the burial processes and you may be surprised to learn that it is not as environmentally damaging as you may have been led to believe.

The funeral industry has worked tirelessly to improve processes so the impact on the environment is as minimal as possible. This has happened for both burial and cremation so that you will not have to sacrifice choice to protect the environment. That said, the overall environmental impact of end-of-life is much less than many of the practices we employ during life!

When planning a cremation and funeral for a loved one, or pre-planning your own end of life services, discuss your desire to choose environmentally friendly options with your funeral director. They can let you know what is available and how they can support your requests.


If you have any immediate questions, please contact us at (403)274-0576.

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