Do you try your best to lead a ‘green’ lifestyle? Are you conscious of your carbon footprint? If so, you may be interested to know that ‘green funerals,’ are growing in popularity as the eco-friendly version of a traditional, western funeral. When you stop to consider the pleasantries of a standard burial ceremony as we know it, it can be difficult to justify the need for an expensive coffin, a florist bill that often costs just as much and even the embalming process. Just how necessary are they? If you have no particular attachment to the grandeur of the average funeral or would prefer a more cost-effective, eco-friendly ceremony, then a ‘green funeral’ may be an option for you to consider.
Embalming is bad for the planet
You’d be forgiven for never stopping to think about the environmental impact a traditional western funeral has on the environment. In reality, the implications are worrying. Take the embalming process, for example – formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde, phenol, humectants, dyes, anti-endemic chemicals, and disinfectants are pumped into the body before it is buried. These chemicals leak into the soil, eventually working their way into our underground waterways – try not to think about that too much, next time you’re having a drink from the tap! A green funeral passes on the embalming process and commits our dead to the earth, toxic chemical-free.
Coffins waste valuable resources
With over 2.4 million Americans dying each year, that is a lot of caskets and burial vaults. When we put this amount of concrete, steel, copper and bronze into the ground with our dead, we’re burying materials that could remain there for thousands of years – not to mention the fact that we are also burying thousands of pounds worth of coffin. Yes, a wooden casket is biodegradable and would eventually break down to become part of the soil, but if this wood was used for other means, we could build over 90,000 homes. Whilst a wooden casket is definitely better than a bronze-clad steel coffin, those who want to have as green a funeral as possible opt for a simple cloth, shrouding the body.
Green burials allow nature to reclaim itself
A green funeral will usually not take place at your regular grave-yard or cemetery unless they happen to have their own green burial site too. Green burial grounds are often set in beautiful meadows or woodland and encourage the native wildlife and flowers to thrive, so visitors can enjoy the tranquil scenery whilst remembering their loved ones. Often, these sites do not permit headstones, with the view that the body is committed back to nature and is reclaimed by the earth, although some sites will allow a tree to be planted or a temporary marker.
As you can see, green funerals are a great way to minimize your carbon footprint and are a cost-effective option, compared to traditional ceremonies. Even if you just want to incorporate a few elements of a green funeral, a funeral director will be able to help you create a bespoke plan.