Sun | Apr 23, 2017

Make green burials mandatory, urges funeral home operator

Published:Monday | June 22, 2015 | 6:00 AM

The operator of one funeral home wants the Government to make it mandatory for new cemeteries to reserve a section for green or natural burials before they are approved.

Joseph Cornwall, owner of House of Tranquillity Funeral Homes, said the 'green cemetery' could then be returned to agricultural production, forestry and pasture lands after 20 years.

"Jamaica is the largest island in the English-speaking Caribbean and should pioneer this idea. The Government must act now," Cornwall wrote in a letter to this newspaper.

At the same time, he wants local authorities to establish 'green burial plots' in parish council-operated cemeteries across the island.

Cornwall said local authorities could start by burying registered and unregistered paupers in this section of the cemeteries.

GOV'T CAN LEAD CHARGE

He argued that private investors in the funeral industry would not have much interest in a green cemetery because it would not allow them to maximise the return on their investment, but the Government, through the responsible agencies, can "lead the charge" at the May Pen Cemetery in Kingston and other state-owned burial sites.

"The Kingston and St Andrew Corporation now has the opportunity to establish the first modern green cemetery in the country. The town clerk, who has responsibility, needs to identify a section of the cemetery to establish a green burial plot," he underscored.

Green burial is simply digging a grave and placing the body in it inside a coffin made from biodegradable materials such as cardboard or wood. That allows the body to decompose over time and contribute to the biodiversity of an area.

The body should not be embalmed, as the chemical would prevent the timely decomposition.

Cornwall said cremation is another way to dispose of human remains and suggested that those remains could be scattered in the green cemetery or other natural environment.