A simple guide to ‘green’ funerals
Eco-friendly or ‘green’ funerals are becoming more popular. Here’s our simple guide for anyone considering going ‘green’. They are valid for any funeral – religious or secular, and regardless of whether the deceased held strong views about the environment.
State your intentions
First and foremost, pre-planning is the best way to get exactly what you want. Leaving it to family will mean that you have no control over your funeral. Knowing that your funeral is carried out according to your wishes will also relieve your family of any unnecessary additional worry at this time.
If the preference is for burial you can choose a woodland or natural (meadow-land) burial ground, which ensures the preservation of the environment and protection of wildlife.
Visit www.naturaldeath.org.uk for sites that belong to the Association of Natural Burial Grounds. These are are bound by a Code of Conduct aimed at ensuring the highest professional and environmental standards.
If you are considering cremation, ask your funeral director what your local crematoria have done to reduce the impacts on the environment. Many crematoria have made significant reductions in emissions over the last few years, which could mean that cremation is better for the environment than it has been historically.
Most natural burial grounds will not accept embalmed bodies for burial, due to the preserving chemical used and the adverse effect it has on groundwater. Exceptions may apply where a body has had to be embalmed for repatriation.
Choice of eco-friendly coffin
Many different natural materials are suitable for green funerals, including, wicker, jute, bamboo and wool. Each one has minimal impact on the environment and has its own dignified way of uniting with nature more rapidly than a traditional coffin.
Natural or living memorials
These are a requirement of green burial grounds, such as a wooden marker or tree, and are a wonderful alternative to the traditional memorial headstone or plaque. Also consider planting a tree, shrub or flowers in your garden that will live on in memory of the deceased.
The funeral service
If the deceased was passionate about the environment, find ways to reflect their interest in the service.
Use recycled paper for the Order of Service and ‘Thank you’ notes.
Reduce the carbon footprint and source your funeral flowers from your own garden, a local organic grower, or use a florist with a policy that avoids sourcing flowers from heated greenhouses. Ensure any packaging is biodegradable.
Gifts of sympathy
Consider a donation to charity instead of flowers and have a lasting and positive effect on someone else’s life or the environment.
Instead of the traditional motor hearse, consider a horse-drawn or bicycle hearse instead, and arrange for people to share cars to and from the ceremony.
Organise local organic food at the reception following the funeral.
Your funeral director
Don’t forget to ask your funeral director about sustainable options or get in touch with The Association of Green Funeral Directors www.greenfd.org.uk for more help and advice.