Ashes to ashes – even cliché around death reminds us of carbon. Of course the human body eventually ends up replenishing the air, but the processes around funerals – corteges of fuel-guzzling vehicles, cremations etc. – aren’t so green.
But on the former, help appears to be at hand. Brahms Electric Vehicles is retrofitting hearses and limos with electric technology – and electric vehicles have other benefits that are well in keeping with traditional last rites.
As the company’s managing director Steve Cousins says: “Not only will it appeal as a sustainable alternative to a petrol or diesel hearse, but the electric motor is quieter, making for a calmer and befitting experience.”
With predicted fuel savings of £1,500 a year – payback for the vehicle retrofit coming in just a couple of years – Cousins also predicts that the clamour from companies will see all funerals using electric hearses within the decade. Optimistic – but we like optimism in these parts.
It certainly appears that technological development in this field, not to mention improvement in comfort levels, has moved on exponentially since just last year, when The Sun reported on Blackley ‘eco cemetery’, complete with a hearse “similar to a golf buggy.”
It would be remiss to talk of sustainability and funerals without mentioning the great debate in this area – whether we should be re-using heat from crematoriums. Recent cases in Somerset and Worcester, where heat produced will be used to warm a swimming pool, have stoked the debate (bad pun acknowledged.)
While we do have an undeniable emotional attachment to such matters, the argument for best use of resources – especially for local authorities who are increasingly in search of innovative efficiency measures – seems to be winning the day.
As ever, there are various ‘pushes and pulls’ moving this previously sacrosanct area towards a greener future: more people who’ve lived their lives doing their bit to look after the world they live in and making sure plans are in place to honour that after they’ve gone, as well as hard targets to cut emissions and make prudent cost reductions where they can be found.
As we reported earlier, religion is getting life after death in sustainable order, so it seems only right that the last point on the journey there is looking to set an example too.