Forward planning & the sustainability of funerals, burials & cremations

Southern Metropolitan Cemeteries NSW are researching the social and sustainability issues which affect our cemeteries and crematoria. We want to understanding different perspectives on the following:

  • the memorialisation of the deceased
  • forward planning for funerals, burials and cremations
  • urban cemeteries as multi use communal spaces, and
  • the sustainability of cemeteries and crematoria into the future

These insights are crucial as our cemeteries and crematoria develop strategies to address the challenges presented by an ageing and multicultural population, land shortages, and environmental concerns.

Feedback from our survey so far:

  • An overwhelming 96.5% of respondents feel it is important to let family and friends know about their preference for a burial or cremation. Have you had a conversation with your family about what your preference is? Letting friends and loved ones know will significantly ease their burden in the event they need to organise an interment for you.
  • Biodegradable coffins and urns are manufactured with organic materials that naturally break down in the environment without leaving a carbon footprint, they are widely available, and are often more affordable than traditional coffins and urns. When presented with this information, 83% of respondents told us they were open to using a biodegradable coffin, and 65% of respondents told us they are open to using a biodegradable urn.

Have you considered the environmental impact of a funeral? Funerals can be more environmentally friendly by choosing:

  • to dress the body in biodegradable clothing, without jewellery
  • biodegradable coffin, urn or shroud,·     
  • to donate to a charity in lieu of flowers,·     
  • native species if blooms are chosen,·     
  • locally sourced or recycled supplies such as stationery,·     
  • locally sourced food and beverages with limited packaging,·     
  • digital death notices and invites,·     
  • green thank-you gifts for guests such as seedlings.

So far, 73% of respondents have told us they would be interested in having an environmentally friendly funeral.

  • To date, 62.5% of respondents have told us that they are interested in attending community and cultural events at our cemeteries. Would you attend an arts event or a picnic in a cemetery? What are your thoughts on urban cemeteries as multi use communal spaces?

These are a few an examples of what is covered in the survey, which will take between 10 minutes and 20 minutes to complete.

Your insights and feedback are so valuable, and we hope you take the time to participate in this unique piece of research.

Click here to do the survey.