Green Funerals

If you live a ‘green’ life, you probably want a green death and a green funeral.

The issue tends to revolve around the question of  burial or cremation and then of course all the things that go hand in hand – the type of coffin (wicker, hardwood, brass handles versus rope), the type of shroud (and whether you have one at all), the type of land used for burial. And on.

The environmentally conscious will know there are arguments on both sides to achieve a green funeral. The carbon footprint of cremation may be five times more polluting, but it’s up against the use of precious land and long-term maintenance of a grave. Those who want a more natural end often prefer a woodland burial than a cemetery: see natural burial grounds.

Here are some of the challenges:

  • 7 billion people live on the planet.
  • 60 million people die every year.
  • We use millions of tons of metal, concrete, plastic and toxic embalming fluid in burials and cremations every year.
  • We use valuable resources – land and trees – to bury and cremate our dead: 50m trees a year in India alone.
  • 70% of us in the UK opt for cremation and that uses around 20 litres of fuel. 16% of total UK mercury emissions come from crematoria – this must be reduced to zero by the end of the decade.

Traditional funeral packages are not terribly green: embalming, plastic-handled MDF coffins, brass-handled oak coffins, hearses and limos.

There are other ways. A simple reusable wooden box to transport the body; a biodegradable coffin and simple cotton shroud for burial or cremation. Who knows, perhaps in future, well-used coffins could become treasured family heirlooms!

See our Marketplace for services and products ideas.

A couple of sites worth visiting for ideas and inspiration:

See this list of 10 Green Funeral ideas in the Guardian – ideas for green funerals and keeping your eco credentials.

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