Did you know some funerals are bad for the environment? After Yasemin’s ‘dark night of the soul’, she has found her passion.
This is our second podcast speaking with Yaz from rite of passage funerals in the last podcast. We talked about how Yaz got into this field of work and the big changes that are overdue in the funeral industry. But I wanted to go into a few topics a little bit deeper because I find this topic absolutely fascinating. So today we are going to talk about eco funerals and also how to make your funeral easier on your loved ones.
So last podcast we touched briefly on eco funerals. How did you discover eco funerals and what exactly is involved.
Well it’s such an interesting story. So after I kind of talked about my dark night of the soul in the last episode. When we kind of sold everything that we owned move across the other side of the world with two young kids after planning for five years and we literally landed and my husband was like “Nah I’m just not feeling this anymore”. And it was really epic.
After I had this really intense visceral response to this article that I was reading and I knew that I wanted to really end up in the death space and work in this field. I was looking through the local newspaper to see if there were any kind of local events on that could take the kids to. And there was this little thumbnail ad like it was tiny it was but it was like this huge spotlight was shining. It was so crazy it just popped out to me in its head the center of the end of life transitions workshops. I was thinking “the Center for end of life transitions what is that”. anyway, I looked at the website and it was this amazing it’s this Group I guess run by this amazing lady called Carolyn who’s been doing it for over 20 years. She’s a Buddhist herself and she educates people on home funerals, natural burials. And she host workshops. So I called her met with her we had coffee. I did her workshops and learned so much from her. And it was through her that I really learned about these more environmentally friendly green options and home funerals as well. So you can have a funeral home. There’s no law against that. And that’s another big trend actually that that people are slowly starting to cotton on to that you can have a funeral at home.
So do you think that Australia is ahead of the game or if we got a bit of catching up to do with funeral options.
Yeah we definitely have some catching up to do. Sure. Like even here on the Gold Coast I can’t have a funeral with a coffin present in any of the beaches or the public places or the parks. So there are still quite a lot of rules around where you can have a funeral with a casket present.
I think it’s really important to teach kids that this is a part of life. I don’t think that we should definitely you know when you go to India that the people who’ve died and paraded through the streets and people celebrate that and I’m not necessarily saying that we do that here it’s not a part of our culture. But I do think that we can. Open the door a little bit to you know allow people to realise that it’s a reality. So if there’s this you know if someone’s say been a life saver their whole life why can’t we have their funeral with the casket on the beach you know or in a park near by you can have memorials so if that’s not if if the casket present isn’t as important to the families I work with then I recommend having a memorial where the information takes place beforehand and then we have like a beautiful Arbor with the ashes there in an urn and you can have that anywhere but there are restrictions about where you can have an actual coffin.
So when you’re talking eco funerals, what is it because it’s not just what you do with the body. It’s the whole ceremony isn’t it?
Yeah that’s how I approach it. So as I said everything in order to have probably their own take whether they even do them or not not all of them do it so you’ve got a traditional burial.
Which is what we all know. Kind of graveside burial. Six Feet Under. You might have the service next to the burial plot. Then you’ve got your traditional cremation which is kind of where you might have a service at a memorial park or if you come to rite of passage funerals no more likely. An alternative venue. I had one on a golf course and one in this beautiful barn with the fairy lights and so different but amazing. Lots of love goes into every single service.
So they’re kind of what people imagine and know of so they’re kind of the two Traditional cremation traditional burial. And then somewhere in between is green burial and green services. So the green burial as I said last episode was three feet deep six feet. And that can be a graveside service as well at a green burial cemetery. So on the Gold Coast that’s up at Albert Hunt. And then if you still want those same kind of green principles but you want to be cremated I can approach that in a way where we look at everything holistically so everything from the transport the mortuary service that I use is an eco friendly. You know they use all environmentally friendly products everything like that.
So even that is considered from my as well as the cars use the casket. You choose the you know what kind of catering and do we use bamboo and recyclables or even glass and plates rather than plastics. Everything is considered along the way to make it as environment mentally friendly as possible and even with the catering it’s like no waste can we you know eliminate that kind of thing and really coming at it from a sustainable environmentally friendly approach if that’s important to people I know personally it’s important to me.
So I’m really passionate about letting people know that this is an option and let’s think about it. You know what. Even if it’s not having straws like even if it’s just one little thing that you can do to minimise the environmental impact of that service then let’s do it. But I can look at it from a really kind of holistic way.
Conservation burial grounds. Are there many in Australia?
Well there’s a few green burial and natural burial sites which is slightly different to conservation. So green burial is where obviously as we were saying three vacancies six feet. There’s no headstones. You just get a G.P.S. coordinates and it’s almost just like a big lawn I guess. Type of thing. Now the conservation burial ground which I don’t believe we have any in Australia. Hopefully we will. But Carolyn my mentor in America she has started one in conservation burial ground is amazing in that it’s all about regenerating the ecosystem within that environment. So. Take a block of land a couple of acres whatever it is. And the conservation burial grounds has the same principles as a natural burial so you can’t have any heavy metals you can’t embalm well I don’t embalm unless its you know the cultural reasons or I have to but I avoided at all costs but there’s no embalming fluid nothing that is remotely toxic to the earth in the way that the Ashes are treated alkaline. And you’ve got to add some acid and everything before it to try and make it so that I kill the plants. A lot of people don’t know that that even scattering ashes can can damage the plants. So everything is considered and then all native plants are planted within the area and it’s all about regenerating the ecosystem and bringing it back to life while also having this beautiful area that you can go and visit your loved ones again G.P.S. coordinates and this contemplation seats and benches and just creating this really beautiful environment to go and you know it’s almost like you’re in this really beautiful park but people are buried there as well. And again it does open up this opportunity to lean into death and not make it kind of so behind the big black curtain. Like creating these beautiful environments that you can be at one with it and realise that the cycle of life.
Yaz has an array of different resources available on her website including blogs, will template online guides and more.