One of the differentiating features of NEO Cremations (aside from impeccable customer service) is our incessant focus on sustainability. Our stated goal is to become the most environmentally friendly funeral provider on the planet. To achieve this goal, we have set out to fundamentally rethink how our industry operates. The CO2 released by each cremation we perform is offset at least twice over by planting trees via our tree planting charity partners. This is a unique feature of our offering.
This begged the question of how our tree planting charity partners were selected. At the highest level, we decided to offer our customers two choices: charities that plants trees outside of the UK with an emphasis on the developing world, and reforestation programs that focus on planting trees in the UK. This blog details the thought process behind the selection of the reforestation programs that focus on planting trees in the UK.
The overall goal of the exercise was to list and then rank the existing programs based on criteria that we deemed important. The criteria are: (i) location where the trees are planted including tree-tagging, (ii) minimum donation amounts, (iii) ratio of donation spent on actual tree planting as opposed to administration costs, and (iv) the cost of planting a single tree.
The organisation that ranked the highest in our exercise is Scotland-based Trees for Life. Trees for Life lets you choose the type of trees that are being planted (a mixture of native species, including Scots pine, oak, hazel, alder, birch, rowan, and aspen) and whilst instigating a program with a donor, is keen to understand the goals or structures the donor is aiming to achieve so they can tailor a program that best fits those.
Importantly, Trees for Life is also the only organisation we have come across that allows you to geolocate the trees that have been planted. This provides the opportunity for customers to visit the trees they have contributed to, should they so wish. Trees for Life focuses on protecting and growing the unique green zone in the Scottish Highlands.
Trees for Life does not make public the ratio of donations spent directly on trees, but our contacts with them and the testimonial of other donors was enough to convince us of their credibility and professionalism.
The second charity we have selected is The Heart of England Forest. The charity covers a number of wild forests across England, e.g. the ancient Forest of Arden and the Vale of Evesham. So far the charity has created 3,000 acres of new woodland, which is equivalent to 1,000,000 new trees, and its stated goal is to reach 30,000 acres of wild protected forest in the medium term.
The charity provides a range of donation programs, and provides many options to commemorate both events and individuals. This includes dedication and tagging, special planting ceremonies and an emphasis on making sure the protected areas are signaled with waymarkers so people can enjoy hiking through them.
We have made initial contact with The Heart of England Forest and look forward to planting our first trees with them in the very near future.
Going forward, NEO Cremations aims to increase the number of affiliated charity partners to provide our customers with more choices of where they would like their contribution to the reforestation of our planet to be directed to.