I’m delighted to say that I have won another Cicero Award, this time for a speech I prepared for Tony Ennis of ecoLegacy on the maybe unsettling theme of ‘green cremations’.

The award page is here. Scroll down and you can see my winning speech in the category Environment/Energy/Sustainability.

The Cicero Awards are the nearest thing to the Oscars for speechwriters. And for speakers too. It’s not enough to write a superb speech. It has to work with the speaker and the occasion. And the speaker has to commit to the risk of doing something bold, sharp and different that maybe won’t work on the day.

In this case I shamelessly took my core idea from the legendary speech by the US President in Mars Attacks: Why?

There were several considerations here. Above all I wanted to write something that literally no-one there at the staid proceedings of the UK Institute of Cemetery and Cremation Management Conference in Oxford would be expecting. Something almost outlandish.

To get them to grasp that this speech was different. Because the new ecoLegacy approach to cremation and funerals was something completely different:

When this works and the speaker catches their rapt attention from literally the first word, the speaker can hear the audience listening. Thus this speech:


Why… are you doing this?

Why? Isn’t the universe big enough… for both of us?

We could work together. Why be enemies?

Because we’re different? Is that why?

Think of the things that we could do. Think how strong we would be. Earth… and Mars… Together.

There is nothing that we could not accomplish.

Think about it.

Think about it.

* * *

That’s the legendary speech by US President Jack Nicholson in Mars Attacks.

The Martians have blown up most of the Earth. He is making Earth’s last desperate stand.

If you’ve seen the film, you know that his mighty speech does not end so well for the President!

But Earth wins in the end. There’s one way to stop the Martians—playing American country music makes their heads explode! It has that effect on me too!

* * *

To set the scene for today’s discussions, let me draw on this fine example.


* * *

Why do we in this sector do things the way we do them?

Why should we change?

Good question! It boils down to this:

Let’s look at the numbers.

* * *

The emissions caused by each cremation are small. Tiny in the great scheme of things.

But they aren’t negligible. Trivial. They add up.

Each cremation in Europe causes roughly 0.4 tons of CO2 alone, not to mention the other toxic elements. This is what 40 established trees sequester.

So a cremation is like chopping down 40 trees.

Each ecoLation produces zero CO2 in itself. Much like an electric car, it uses power drawn from far more efficient sources.

Each unit can process 2,500 bodies a year. 100,000 trees—a small forest per unit every year.

If every UK council represented here today had only one ecoLation unit, we could save in effect countless millions of trees a year.

* * *

Likewise the toxic drugs and other poisons slowly but surely entering the food chain through burials are small.

Small. But not negligible. They add up.

Everyone of us here carries roughly 700—900 contaminants, chemicals, pesticides and bio-accumulated toxins in our bodies. And we carry diseases.

Through burial those contaminants end up in the soil. Along with the toxins from medications, end of life drugs, coffin veneers, embalming fluids, they degrade and seep into our water supplies.

Over seven million people die every year in Europe. 700—900 contaminants multiplied by over seven million. Not negligible. Not trivial.

* * *


Because we can do better than what we’ve always done.

The new ecoLegacy approach we’ve developed significantly reduces the emissions and pollutants and poisons entering the Earth’s precious systems.

In the lifetime of our children, Earth’s population will soar towards and maybe even past ten billion people.

Dying differently makes sense.

Anyway, the speech has lots of energy/insight/interest and nice changes of pace. It asks another question at the end as it concludes with the Mars Attacks speech motif: What if?

What if more and more people ask for this funeral option?

What if more and more people insist on it?

What if some people in this sector warmly embrace the opportunity?

What if others in the sector shrug and ignore it—just a passing fad?

What if this change comes because it’s the right thing to do?

* * *

This is our planet.

Earth. Not Mars!

Let’s all leave Earth with one last, almost imperceptible footprint.


Because it’s the right thing to do.

* * *

There is nothing that we could not accomplish.

Think about it.

Think about it.

* * *

Thank you.

Speeches for Leaders.

Anyone out there wants to give an Oscar-winning speech?

You know what to do. Drop me an email: mail @ charlescrawford.biz (but best to join up the spaces if you’re not a spambot).