What many people don’t realise is that traditional funerals aren’t good for the environment. Traditional burials combine dangerous chemicals with non-biodegradable materials, and cremations involve releasing toxic smoke into the environment.
An eco-friendly funeral is a way that you can be laid to rest without having a negative impact on the environment. Also called a ‘green funeral’, it’s great for those who were nature lovers and want to give back to nature in their death.
What’s wrong with traditional funerals?
Firstly, you should have your wishes met with whatever type of funeral you want. If you want a traditional burial or a cremation then that is definitely your choice. Here we simply look at why those options aren’t going to be great for the environment.
Cremation is seen by many as the most environmentally friendly option but that isn’t the case. Not only is the natural resource of gas used, but carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere. Around 400kg of CO2 is given off and toxic gases are released that can cause further harm.
Burials aren’t much better. There are plenty of materials in the coffin that aren’t biodegradable and other materials such as treated metal and the headstone that could take hundreds of years to return to nature.
With both, you also have the issue of embalming fluid which includes formaldehyde. This can be released either into the atmosphere or the groundwater and toxify the groundwater.
How to conduct an environmentally friendly funeral
Type of funeral ❓ – Due to the gasses involved, cremation is out of the question. Burial is the better method as there are ways to make it much more environmentally friendly than traditional methods. There are also burial sites a lot better than your usual graveyards.
Preparing the body ⚱️ – As mentioned, embalming is a process that is bad for the environment and therefore this will have to be avoided for an eco-funeral. The funeral would need to either be held quickly after death or refrigerated.
Burial site 🏞️ – Your best bet for an eco-funeral is a woodland burial. There are many sites across the country where you allow a body to return to nature. These will be unmarked graves with everything around the site being kind to the environment.
Coffin ⚰️ - You wouldn’t think it as they are mostly made of wood but most coffins aren’t great for the environment. Their linings often contain synthetic material and the glue used can be toxic. Added to this, the wood and metal used have usually been treated and take a long time to degrade. A wicker coffin is a great alternative or others such as willow and even recycled paper!
Clothing 👚 – You also need to consider what they are wearing. Materials such as polyester and nylon aren’t ideal as they can take up to 200 years to degrade. Instead, you’ll want the material used to be as natural as possible, such as cotton.
Marking the grave 🌳 – Eco burial sites most likely won’t allow headstones. A common way to mark the grave instead is to plant a tree. Sometimes plaques are allowed or you can also simply put a geotag on the location so you always know where it is.
Grave ♻️ – One of the aims of an eco funeral is to let the body return to nature as quickly as possible. Due to that, eco-graves tend to be shallower than regular burials. This will allow for more microbial activity and a quicker decomposition process.
Where are eco-funerals held?
To have an eco-funeral then you’ll have to find a woodland burial site. Thankfully, there are plenty around the country and you shouldn’t have to travel far to find one.
You do have to bear in mind that these burial sites don’t have a specific set of rules and they can all differ. You can also choose to do a traditional burial in a graveyard but do it in the most economical way possible.
Costs of an eco-funeral
You may think with many different factors involved that an eco remembrance may be more expensive but the opposite is true. Often the costs are far less as you won’t have those additional high costs such as an expensive coffin or headstone. Each place will have their own fees but this is often less than traditional burial places.
The cost of a funeral plot can vary from one place to the next but you can often get a basic woodland burial for around £1,500. On top of that, you can have extra costs such as wildlife or tree planting around the site, or perhaps an animal box or plaque.
Should I choose an eco-funeral?
If you’re environmentally conscious and want your impact to be minimal then an environmentally conscious funeral could be a brilliant idea! It can give loved one's peace of mind that the deceased's body has been given back to nature in such beautiful surroundings.
They don’t cost as much as other options and it’s always a positive to be as kind as possible to the environment. We believe that one’s footprint and impact on the earth is so important. Don’t forget to let your loved ones know what you prefer, and write it in your will! A will is a way for your family to know your wishes and carry them out after you've passed.