Is a Green Funeral Possible?
Not only are funerals expensive, but they can also cost the environment a great deal. Traditional burials have a tremendous impact on the planet in terms of materials, and cremations in the U.S. release 270,000 tons of carbon dioxide every year. But as society continues to make more eco-conscious decisions, many people want end-of-life solutions that don’t harm the environment – including options for a green burial.
Luckily, there are many ways you can plan your future passing while still honoring the planet. All it takes to create the ideal green funeral is a few simple steps:
- Prepare a Natural Burial
- Find a Green Funeral Home
- Use Green Ideas for Your Ceremony
- Talk to Your Family
1. Arrange a Natural Burial
It all starts here: making plans for what happens to your body after passing. With a conventional burial, the body is embalmed with heavy chemicals, placed inside a durable coffin, and then set inside a concrete vault or liner. According to statistics from the Green Burial Council, more than 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluids, 20 million feet of wood, 17 thousand tons of copper and bronze, 64 thousand tons of steel, and 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete enter the ground each year because of burials.
Green burial advocates believe this practice both harms the ground and is very wasteful. Not only can those materials poison the soil and groundwater, but they’re actively preventing the body’s final remains from going through natural decomposition.
What is a Green Burial?
With a natural or green burial, the body is prepared with the same methods humans have used for centuries:
- Cleaned without chemicals
- Placed in clothing made from all-natural fibers
- Placed in a burial container made from all-natural materials
- Interred in a four-foot-deep hole dug by hand
Additionally, the burial container and final resting place should include all manner of eco-friendly substances:
- Cotton shroud
- Wicker casket
- Mushroom burial suit
- Alkaline hydrolysis
- Buried at sea and turned into an eternal reef
The goal is for your body to be laid to rest with as little long-term environmental impact as possible.
Difference Between a Natural and Green Burial
In some circles, “natural burial” and “green burial” can be used interchangeably. While there are plenty of similarities, one key sticking point exists:
A green burial occurs in an exclusively green cemetery that uses only earth-friendly methods to care for the grounds.
You can have a natural burial in a conventional cemetery, as many of them now employ hybrid models wherein certain areas are set aside for such burials. However, a genuinely green burial must happen in an eco-friendly cemetery.
Locate a Green Cemetery
As we discussed above, a green cemetery employs only the most eco-friendly maintenance protocols when caring for the grounds. It also only accepts the most natural burials possible. Moreover, the gravestones are exclusively made from sustainable materials, typically a stone placed flat against the ground with the merest of long-term signage. Even more, many of these facilities allow foliage, flowers, and trees to grow as nature intended – including atop the graves themselves.
Finding one of these is the tricky part, as approximately 100 locations exist across the United States and Canada. Because of this limited space, you often have to make preparations for transport and interment. Contact the green cemetery nearest you to learn more about their specific policies.
2. Choose a Green Funeral Home
Once you have decided whether a natural or green burial, you should locate a funeral home to assist with the whole process. Not every facility is set up to be eco-friendly, but many funeral home directors have adapted as green funerals rise in popularity. Thus, as part of your overall funeral preparations, consult funeral homes in your area to help your family with the various elements of the natural funeral process.
3. Plan Eco-Friendly Details for the Event
This might be the simplest and most straightforward part of planning your green funeral. Depending upon how eco-conscious you and your family might be, you should account for the following elements in your funeral plan:
- Food and drink
Such plans often include using eco-friendly party supplies, providing healthy dishes made from local and sustainable materials, choosing facilities powered by green energy, and more. The green funeral director in Tip #2 should be able to help.
4. Talk to Your Family
As with any funeral or end-of-life preparations, you should discuss your thoughts and intentions with your loved ones before you pass away. They must understand what you want to happen so they can best honor your wishes. Yes, they could read your funeral plans after your passing, but communicating clearly with your family and friends will help ease any concerns they might have. It’s a pertinent point of information because of a green burial’s precise nature, especially if your body requires transportation to a green cemetery.
You Can Hold a Fully Green Funeral
Whether you go for the full green funeral or seek out any sort of partial experience, what matters is that it honors your commitment to the planet. It’s about your life and relationship to the earth, so your plans should focus on that.
Besides being less costly to the environment, green funerals are considerably less expensive for the pocketbook. While conventional funerals can often cost above $10,000, many green burials can occur for merely $1,000.
The Postage can help you create the green funeral that’s right for your life and death. You can upload the perfect plans you’ve developed and assign delegates who are in charge of ensuring your plans go off without a hitch.