Green Burial Options

"Green Burial" lessens one's impact on the environment and enables the circle of life more naturally. We provide green, or natural, burials, along with the kind of goodbyes you would like to surround them with. 

With our friends at Green Burial Kingston (greenburialkingston.com), we are keen to see a green burial cemetery established here in the Kingston area. On March 23, 2021, Kingston City Council moved to study the options, report here. In June 2022, a motion was passed to make available 33 plots for Green Burial at Pinegrove Cemetery, near Brewer's Mills in Kingston. While this is exciting news, the plots are awaiting Provincial approval. 

Some suggestions for action if you too are keen about Green Burial:

  1. If you would like to join Green Burial Kingston, you can become a member on their website for $20.
  2. If you are interested in purchasing a plot at Pinegrove, contact Derek Ochej (he/him/his), Acting Deputy City Clerk, City Clerk’s Department, City of Kingston at 613-546-4291 extension 1252; dochej@cityofkingston.ca
  3. If you would like to pre-plan and/or pre-pay your wishes for a Green Burial, you can start here or call us at 613-544-3411; heather@jamesreidfuneralhome.com

To clarify, the cemetery sells the plot and arranges the actual burial, with associated "opening and closing" costs. The funeral home comes to the place of death, transfers the deceased and prepares them for burial. If desired, the funeral home will host a Celebration of Life or Funeral and assist at the Graveside. 

Glenwood Cemetery in Picton, one hour away, has Green Burial Grounds currently available within the cemetery. A section of the cemetery, in the woods, is a lovely spot for green burial or for scattering of cremated remains. Also, for years Cobourg Union Cemetery has operated Ontario's first Green Section for Natural Burials.  

There are five principles of green burial:

  1. Use of biodegradable materials
  2. Ecological care of the grounds to help nature
  3. Communal marking with individuals mapped
  4. No embalming with formaldehyde 
  5. No vault or grave liner

We offer a shroud or an environmental casket that uses plant-based and water-based adhesives and peg and dowel construction and tung oil finish. We also offer formaldehyde-free embalming, which is required for winter vault storage at some cemeteries. In this short video, our Bamboo Coffin, Shroud, Bio-degradable Urn, and Environmental Cremation Container are shown in our Selection Room. 

Green Burial Coffin made from biodegradable bamboo


Six-Point Bamboo Coffin

cotton shroud covers a body; a wicker carrying tray is lined with cotton

 bamboo shroud (comes with underboard) and optional willow carrier

IS CREMATION ENVIRONMENTALLY RESPONSIBLE?

Not at all crematoriums. Our Crematorium was built in 2014 and follows high environmental standards, continuously monitored by the Ministry of the Environment. Our crematorium creates almost no emissions, unlike older crematoriums, as we have a second chamber that burns off toxic gasses. Ours creates no smoke, no harmful toxins, no unhealthy byproducts.

The CO2 produced from the natural gas used as fuel is harmful to the environment, as is driving cars: the amount is approximately one SUV tank-worth per cremation.

We met in 2021 with a local Green Chemist at Queen's University, Dr. Phillip Jessop. In researching his latest book, "Which Is Greener," he studied burial and cremation's environmental impacts. His research highlights the high energy toll that titanium and other metal take when being made. These metals are used in hips, knees, and the like which emerge from each cremation intact. We recycle the metal replacement parts (and donate the profits locally to charity), which he said is very good for the environment. Thus he placed cremation high up the list of green death-care options. Unfortunately, these metals cannot be recycled when burial is chosen. His research shows that reusing graves as they commonly do in Europe is the best death-care choice for the environment, something that is rare now in Canada but is being advocating for by The Natural Burial Association. 

Home-Directed Death-Care

For those who are interested, it is legal for the next-of-kin to transfer their deceased family member and prepare their body for burial--see the BAO Consumer Information Guide here or at the bottom of our home page. We also facilitate home-directed death-care, where the family shares in or does the washing and dressing of their loved one and sits vigil in the home or in our funeral home. This can be followed by a funeral or Celebration of Life, green burial, traditional burial, cremation or cremation with scattering. We are open to and interested in partnering with families in their loved one's death care. Our 168-year-old roots go back to these practices.  

Green Burial Kingston, Swan Song, James Reid Funeral Home

At the Swan Song Festival presentation of "A Will for the Woods" at the Screening Room, October 19th, 2019, from left: Aileen Stewart of Death Care Kingston (host), Sarah Reid Hedberg of James Reid's, Sue Lyon of Green Burial Kingston, Heather Jackson of James Reid's, Shannon Gendron of Green Burial Kingston, and Nancy MacMillan from Thresholds Psychotherapy




"Considering Natural Burial in Kingston" by the Natural Burial AssociationDownload the PDF here