Keywords: green burials, case study, start-ups, sustainable business, sustainability, New Zealand, socially responsible funerals, environmentally friendly funerals, alternative funerals, family-directed funerals
Exiting in a State of Grace: can death be sustainable?
By August 2007, Deborah Cairns and Fran Reilly had been in business just a year and their alternative, family-directed funeral business had already won a regional sustainable business award. Based in Auckland, New Zealand, State of Grace offered clients socially and environmentally friendly alternatives including involving families where possible in keeping the deceased at home without embalming, and the use of natural products including eco-caskets. Deborah and Fran appreciated there were plenty of challenges in providing more socially responsible, natural alternatives to traditional funerals and current modes of burial and cremation. Now their fledgling business is gaining momentum, the two women were trying to find the balance between how much and how fast to grow the business, and at the same time meet their family commitments and stay true to their sustainability values. There is an underlying issue surrounding their prioritisation of whom and what needed sustaining most.