New Brunswick

Here is how you can plan for a green burial

New Brunswickers who pursue an environmentally friendly life now have the option to looking into a green death as well.

Environmentally conscious people hope to die how they live: With the smallest footprint possible

There are rules when it comes to dying in New Brunswick, for example bodies must be transported by a licensed funeral director. This cemetery in Memramcook East is where Denise LeBlanc plans to be buried in a pine box. (Tori Weldon/CBC)

New Brunswickers who pursue an environmentally friendly life now have the option to look into a green death as well.

Those interested in doing something different with their earthly bodies after death can attend a meeting hosted by Cocagne Sustainable Development Group. It's an event being held to get people thinking about lessening their impact on the environment after death.

Wiebke Tinney, who is the co-ordinator of the event, said the idea is to provide some basic information about green funerals and to get people talking.

"For a lot of people the end of life and death, it's really connected with your values, so if people have really green values I would say, they really want a green option."

Wiebke Tinney is the co-ordinator at Cocagne Sustainable Development Group. She's hosting a meeting on Feb.15, inviting people to talk about green cemeteries, of which there are none in New Brunswick, and green funerals. (Tori Weldon/CBC)
A green burial is described as the return of a body to the Earth as simply as possible.

Tinney said the group compiled information into a report called, Green Funerals and Green Burial Grounds. It contains information about green cemeteries in New Brunswick, of which Tinney said there are currently none.

But the report also outlines how to make death a more environmentally friendly event and what is possible under New Brunswick laws and regulations.

"Anything which goes in the direction of less toxins in the soil, and for the family to play a bigger role and to choose material that is compostable."

Better options than cremation

Tinney said while cremation has grown in popularity in Canada, it isn't the most environmentally friendly way to go.

"It depends on the filter, you're burning something, you can be polluting of course."

Tinney also has plans for her body after death.

"I don't want to be embalmed or burned, I find it unnecessary," she said.

"I think the simplest could be just to be yourself and go in the ground and be yourself again."

Fiddlehead caskets are made in Fredericton by Jeremy Burrill. It's made of pine, and not treated with chemicals. Denise LeBlanc plans to be buried in one. (Submitted)
She developed her plan with her husband at an end of life workshop facilitated by Denise LeBlanc, who is an end–of–life educator

"I help people contemplate the end of their life, to start thinking, 'we're going to die.'"

Get ready now

"You do this when you're healthy," she said. "When you're well it's not about thinking that you're going to die next week, it's about getting ready now."

LeBlanc said before taking a course to become an end of life educator she was interested in death and volunteered with palliative care services. From her small, sunny home in Memramcook, where she hopes to die, she describes her internment plans.

"The funeral director has agreed to come to my house take care of my body the natural way and then we keep it iced, on dry ice for a few days, you know maximum three days and then, back to the Earth."

Denise LeBlanc is an end of life educator and holds workshops that help people put their emotional affairs in order before they die. She hopes to have a home death and it doesn't involve embalming, barring a communicable disease or a dead-of-winter death. (Tori Weldon/CBC)
Placed in a simple pine box made by Fiddlehead caskets, LeBlanc will be buried just metres from her home in a cemetery where her ancestors rest.

She said local funeral director, Serge Dupuis, was open to doing things a different way.

Dupuis is the third generation to run the funeral home and said green burials are new to him, but he's happy to work with LeBlanc's plan.

"When she said that's what she wanted, well I said, 'I'm going to find out more details and see what I can do.'" said Dupuis. 

Dupuis and LeBlanc both plan to attend the meeting on Feb. 15 at 6:30 p.m. at the Centre 50 de Cocagne hosted by Wiebke Tinney of the Cocagne Sustainable Development Group.



About the Author

Tori Weldon


Tori Weldon is a reporter based in Moncton. She's been working for the CBC since 2008.