Eco-Friendly Funerals Coming to Nova Scotia?


K’JIPUKTUK (HALIFAX) – Embalming, headstones, caskets and cremation are commonplace when it comes to burials in Nova Scotia. But a new campaign is asking locals to look at conventional funeral trappings through an environmental lens.

Green Burial Nova Scotia is a volunteer group based out of the Ecology Action Centre. For the past year, they’ve been meeting to discuss the impacts of our posthumous decisions.

Dawn Carson, a member of Green Burial Nova Scotia, says conventional burial is a resource-heavy business.  “A typical cemetery buries 4,500 litres of formaldehyde-based embalming fluid, 97 tonnes of steel, 2,000 tonnes of concrete and 56,000 board feet of tropical hardwood in every acre of space,” Carson says.

Carson thinks that toxic chemicals and large carbon footprints probably aren’t the legacy most would knowingly choose to leave behind, but in her experience, many don’t realize the eco-impacts of burial options.

She says this is particularly true when it comes to cremation, the most frequently selected interment option in Nova Scotia. Of 9,495 deaths recorded in 2017, 78 per cent resulted in cremation.

“People are often surprised when I talk about the environmental impacts of cremation,” Carson says.

Crematorium furnaces combust at very high temperatures – a carbon footprint estimated to be equivalent to an 800 km car trip. And high emissions aren’t the only concern. “The process releases a lot of chemicals and heavy metals into the air, including hydrochloric acid, sulfur dioxide, carbon dioxide, particulate matter and mercury,” Carson says. 

Green Burial Nova Scotia wants to make it easier for Nova Scotians to plan a green burial – options that enable a body to return as naturally as possible to the earth. “Green burials are growing in popularity worldwide, but the options in Nova Scotia are still limited,” Carson says. 

For now, Green Burial Nova Scotia has compiled an online resource to help Nova Scotians understand what a green burial is, and what options are currently available in our province. It includes a list of hybrid cemeteries, which offer green options.

The online resource can be found at



Green Burial Nova Scotia is a volunteer working group at the Ecology Action Centre. They are working to raise awareness and accessibility of green burial options in our province.

The Ecology Action Centre is a member-based environmental charity in Nova Scotia taking leadership on critical issues from biodiversity to climate change to environmental justice.

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For more information, please contact:


Dawn Carson
End Of Life Concierge
902 488 6601

Dana Lipnicki
Ecology Action Centre