Who are we?
The co-directors of Heaven and Earth Eco Burial Products Pty Ltd are Melbournian sisters, Tamsin Ramone and myself, Alyssa Wormald. We are first generation Australians with a very tight-knit nuclear family due to our lack of any other relatives on this side of the planet! Our Dad is a Canadian consultant geoscientist, our Mum is a British primary teacher turned highly-awarded wildlife photographer, and our eldest sister is a sociology academic with expertise in NGO evaluation. Tamsin has studied both criminal justice and interior design and became a manager for a prominent soft furnishings company. She then had two daughters, became a qualified yoga trainer and started her own yoga business, followed by a surprise set of twins! I am still slowly plugging away at an esoteric degree in medieval history whilst working as a university administrator and looking after my little girl.
Our shared values
We grew up in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges in Melbourne’s outer east, mostly on a large swamp bushland property that Mum fell in love with when we were kids. Mum has always been a trailblazer and growing-up it was not unusual for us to be following her footsteps by writing submissions and attending council meetings and protests to protect our local environment. We learned young that we can be agents of change, and we have never stopped fighting. We have both been involved in many environmental projects and do our best to minimise our waste and ecological footprint.
Compassion and respect
We care about people and seek to help those who are vulnerable or in need. We both support a variety of humanitarian causes and share a passion for the protection of children and refugees. Tamsin and our older sister are known for their epic walks to raise money for good causes! We are firm LGBTQ+ allies and, as good luck would have it, marriage equality took effect on the day of my wedding so I got to ditch the disclaimer I had written up about the outdated Monitum. We value the diversity of all humanity and treat everyone with equal compassion and respect.
Once again, we have Mum to thank for this one. Mum became a vegetarian when she was 17, at a time when such a choice was extremely uncommon. As young children all three sisters made the same choice, eventually shifting to veganism as adults. Caring about other animals is a fundamental part of who we are. Tamsin has been heavily involved in fostering and rehoming greyhounds (along with the odd guinea pig!) and I campaign on behalf of wildlife, particularly ducks, kangaroos and parrots. There was never any doubt that our business would be fully vegan as we believe avoiding animal products is necessary to protect both animals and the environment. We are proud to carry Vegan Australia certification!
Supporting local businesses, supporting local mums
We love keeping it local! We have so many amazing craftspeople in our area and wherever possible we prefer to work with them. Not only is it great to foster community spirit, it keeps our carbon miles low. We particularly love working with other mums. We know it is tough to be mums in business, so we like to stick together and support each other. It means we are all very understanding of the inevitable dramas we face as mums, and unphased by children randomly calling our colleagues or joining our business meetings.
Why green burial?
As an amateur medievalist, I have always been interested in things such as memento mori, crumbling cemeteries, transi tombs, relics and death masks. So I was fascinated when I discovered a YouTube channel called Ask a Mortician hosted by funeral home owner and medievalist, Caitlin Doughty. It was through this prolific death educator that I learned about home funerals and green burials, both of which struck a deep chord with me. I felt passionately that we should be able to reclaim the ancient ritual of shrouding our loved ones and returning them naturally to the Earth. This led me to research how and why we lost these rituals, something I will cover more in future blogs. I was speaking to Tamsin about my newfound knowledge and she too was struck by the necessity of returning to traditional death practices, and the huge impact this could have for the environment as well as personal healing and closure. We started looking in to what was available in Victoria and found there were indeed companies working hard to make home funerals and green burial a reality. However, we were unable to find a company dedicated to the kind of locally made, eco-friendly and customisable burial products we would want when planning a green burial. We weren’t harbouring dreams of being funeral directors, so we were thrilled to see a niche where we could contribute to this movement in something we do well, Tamsin with management and interior design and me with research and administration. The dream that we discussed over rowdy babies turned into a long journey with many steep learning curves, highs and lows. It is our passion and the nearly two years of work it took us to reach our launch have been a labour of love. We have met some truly amazing people along the way, something that we will cover in a separate blog!
Ultimately we have entered this field because we value people and their connections to each other and the Earth, and we are proud to offer products that will help honour those values at the end of life. We hope our work can facilitate choice in death care and promote the restoration of the ancient healing ritual of shrouding our loved ones and returning them naturally to the Earth.