Ecology: 4 alternatives to traditional cemeteries

Ecology: 4 alternatives to traditional cemeteries

By: Sylvianne Rivest – Family Advisor

The burial of human remains started in prehistory, even before the appearance of writing. It is in the north of Jordan that a team of anthropologists discovered the oldest cemetery of humanity. (1)

For lovers of traditions, it is always possible to bury a loved one in a classic cemetery or a Mausoleum. The Saint-Martin Mausoleum is a good example.

People seek more and more simplicity in current rituals. We sometimes even try to completely obscure the concept of death, as Mathieu Bélisle underlines so well in What dies in us. That said, for practical purposes, the question of body layout remains. There is food for thought.

Since the cremation

The legalization of cremation brought a wave of changes in our way of conceiving funeral rituals. In recent years, the burial place has been redesigned.

Eastern influences

With multiculturalism, Eastern cultures are now more prevalent and Buddhist values have gained ground. It is not uncommon that families wish to celebrate life, even the cycle of life, rather than the end or loss of a loved one.

Environmental issues

The environmental issues are convincing and global warming unfortunately flagrant. Currently, a good number of greener alternatives are available to us. It is now possible to choose a final resting place that corresponds more to our values and those of our loved ones.



Jardin des mémoires

The Jardin des mémoires was one of the first places to scatter ashes in nature inaugurated in Quebec. Adjacent to the bois Papineau, located in Laval, very close to Montreal, the Jardin des mémoires is a new space designed to pay tribute to those who love trees, life and flowers. With a decor changing over the four seasons, it is not uncommon to come across wild animals. MEMORIA offers three types of ash scattering:

  • At the foot of a tree (columnar maples)
  • At the foot of a shrub (lilac, serviceberry, pine, ginko, mountain ash, rose gardens and alley of boxwood, etc.)
  • At the fountain

Ice urn

Since the beginning of time, whether in the form of ablution, immersion or effusion, water has occupied a central place in the symbolism of rituals related to nature. (2)

By promoting biodegradable and water-soluble materials, MEMORIA has designed, in collaboration with industrial designer and anthropologist Diane Leclair Bisson, an ice urn that is much more in line with today's industrial and economic reality. It is an excellent alternative to reduce the ecological footprint of your funeral rituals.

In Quebec, some municipalities allow the scattering of ashes in a watercourse or body of water. Obviously, it must be ensured that the dispersal is not a nuisance for anyone and that it is done with respect for the dignity of the deceased.

Botanical urn

When you have a green thumb and own private property or a lot allowing it, a third alternative is available to you. MEMORIA offers Between Heaven and Earth, a botanical urn. The urn is made with all or just part of the ashes, which nourish the roots of the chosen shrub. Different species are available: maple, oak, cherry, hybrid fortythia, preston lilac, Van Houtte spirea, serviceberry, magnolia, hydrangea, peony, rose, boxwood, mugo pine, ginko, juniper. It is, for some people, a way to give another life to the loved one.

Human composting

“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed,” said the famous chemist Lavoisier in the 18th century. (3)

Since January 1, 2023, human composting is now legal in the state of New York. Washington State was the first to take the plunge in May 2020. The principle remains the same as that of compost made up of table waste that feeds our garden. The company Recompose offers pretty cells in which the remains are placed on a bed of wood shavings, alfalfa and straw. It is today the most ecological alternative. Unfortunately, it is not yet legalized in Quebec. It will probably take at least a few years.

  1. L'existence des « cimetières » daterait de plus de 16 500 ans., E.R., Science et Vie no 1123 d'avril 2011.

  2. Expositions vituelles des musée de la région centre, L'eau sacrée et symbolique,la%20purification%20et%20la%20sanctification.

  3. Québec Science, 22 décembre 2021