Greening the Funeral Home
|Trees sequester carbon.|
When planning facilities improvement projects, consider using eco-friendly replacements for carpeting, furniture, window treatments, and paint. There are countless green alternatives made from renewable resources including cork and bamboo flooring, all-natural and hydrocarbon-free textiles, and carpet, paint and textiles that contain zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Milk Paint, an alternative to oil and latex paint, contains zero VOCs and is available in a variety of colors that can be mixed for a full spectrum of color options for home decor and furniture. Milk Paint, in fact, is a popular choice in childcare facilities, hospitals, and schools because it contains zero VOCs.
Perhaps the easiest and fastest way to green a funeral home is in lighting. In the last two years CFL light bulbs have dramatically decreased in price and have become available in a wide variety of types of light. The CFL bulbs available today easily replace incandescent lighting without compromising the color or quality of light. Significant improvements in CFL light bulbs have eliminated the delay in getting to full brightness, ended the flickering, and made CLF bulbs compatible with dimmer switches. The payback period on a CFL light bulb in a fixture used 8-12 hrs per day is 3-4 weeks. The savings on electricity alone is enough to warrant switching out all incandescent light bulbs used more than 10 minutes per day. Add the environmental benefit and switching to CLF light bulbs is the easiest and fastest way to green a funeral home. Additional savings can be achieved with the use of dimmer switches, timers, and motion-sensors to reduce the energy used in lighting.
Many funeral homes provide bottled water to guests. Bottled water is one of America's most criticized industries for its impact on the environment. Consider switching to filtered tap water or a water cooler. Replace disposable plastic cups with biodegradable cups made from paper or corn starch. If your funeral home provides refreshments or food services, use biodegradable plates and tableware. James Olson of Lippert-Olson Funeral Home in Sheboygan Wisconsin provides all products for their receptions sot that all waste including food, plates, napkins, forks/spoons, and cups are biodegradable. All waste is deposited into the backyard compost bin without sorting. The compost, in turn, is used in flower beds and window flower boxes around the funeral home.
Further savings can be achieved in the restroom. Automated "touchless" faucets, flow reducers, and low-volume flush toilet fixtures reduce water consumption again saving money and reducing impact on the environment. A programmable touchless paper towel dispenser will reduce paper waste (which can also be composted). All of these updates have a paypack period of less than one year from savings in water and paper consumption.
Additional savings can be achieved in the funeral home office. Switch to paperless billing for all utility and bank accounts. Opt out of pre-screened credit card mailing lists (and compost the junk mail you do receive). Setup your office printer for two-sided printing, use printer paper made from post-consumer recycled paper, and be sure to recycle those old toner cartridges. Recycle (or compost) your scratch paper. Turn off all computers at night--preferably with a power-saving power strip.
There's no end to the little things we can do to "green" a funeral home facility. Whatever you do, take credit for your effort. Talk to your families about the ways you are caring for the environment and greening your facility. Put up small informative signs by that new water cooler with compostable cups, above the paper towel dispenser, or in your new waiting room decorated with bamboo flooring and walls colored with milk paint. Most people will be interested to learn about your efforts to green your facility and will appreciate and support such measures for a healthier environment.