We can’t escape the fact that we are mortal beings. If you’re dissatisfied, like we are, that most options currently available in Ontario are environmentally harmful burial and cremation practices, then you’re in the right place. Welcome to the Good Green Death Project!
What is a Good, Green Death?
Although there are options where your cremated remains can become a tree, where you can be “liquefied” through a process called alkaline hydrolysis, or even become part of a reef or shot into space like Gene Roddenberry, the most environmentally-responsible option currently available is known as a green burial. There is no embalming, and any encasing is fully biodegradable without any varnishes or harmful chemicals. Sadly, green burial grounds are not yet widely available.
The Good Green Death Project is currently working on the option of being composted (also known as Recomposition). Many people express a sense of peace and that “it just feels right” to think that we can give back to the planet by turning our bodies into healthy, nutrient-rich soil that can nourish a new tree, or be scattered in a native-plant meadow that abounds with pollinators!
But even before you die, we have a big dream that hospice care will be universally available to all residents, which would allow us to die in our own homes with support, or spend our last days in a hospice facility that is like home - where family, friends and beloved pets can stay and offer comfort, and medical assistance be provided to die, if desired.
After death, we imagine supporting the family as they lovingly wash and dress their dead, and remain with them as the person lies in a state of honour – a vigil that allows them to begin their grief journey on their own terms and in their own way.
In the best of all worlds, once the deceased has been composted, family and friends would honour their memory by using the composted remains to plant a memorial tree, or scatter in woodlands or a pollinator meadow on-site.
Partner with us. Contact us if you belong to any organization - environmental, memorial, religious, etc - that would like to see composting or Recomposition as a legal alternative to burial and cremation.
Volunteer with us. This is an important growing movement that needs people to spread the word and keep the conversation and momentum going.
Fundraise with us. We are currently a volunteer, citizen-driven project, with the potential to become a non-profit organization. Funds are needed to maintain the website, cover costs for expenses for public forums, and build up an account, for when Recomposition is a legal option, so we can hit the ground running.
Lobby and Advocate with us. Change comes through broad public support, and that starts with each one of us. Contact both provincial and municipal politicians to let your views be known!
What we are working on now
We would like to see the following changes to current legislation:
• Include composting, or Recomposition, as a legally-defined alternative to burial and cremation;
• Define composted human remains as soil (pending testing for human DNA) OR to be treated similar to cremated human remains;
• Define “cremated human remains” under the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act as a separate entity from “human remains”;
• Allow cremated and composted human remains to be buried on private property;
• Allow community death care practitioners (thanadoulas or death midwives) to assist families in body care of the dead, including washing the dead which is now considered topical embalming under the Act;
• Re-define conservation green cemeteries so they can be multi-purpose/multi-use community spaces incorporating forest conservation, protected pollinator meadows, bee-keeping, orchards for food and cider production, and recreational trails.
We Are Not Alone
There are many groups of concerned people, interested parties, organizations and non-profit, charitable groups that are all working toward the same or similar goals. Check out our resources page for more information!