Green funerals are an increasingly popular choice for funeral planning in the modern age. Not only can you say goodbye to your loved ones in a way that doesn’t put a strain on the environment, but eco-friendly burial options also allow you to save up to thousands of dollars on traditional casket materials.
“Green” caskets, or coffins made from earth-friendly, biodegradable materials, serve the same function as metal caskets, but with a faster decomposition time. Since there is no way to halt the natural progress of a body’s decay (you can only delay it), green burial options skip many of the unnecessary steps and costs associated with a funeral and allow you to put your focus where it really belongs—on your loved ones.
Green coffins come in a variety of materials. While the easiest option is to go for a simple shroud or cardboard casket, there are quite a few lovely options (both contemporary and traditional) that are in keeping with the “green” theme.
By opting for something simple but pretty, you can still have a formal funeral service while working hard to preserve the environment and honoring the wishes of the deceased.
- Veneered Coffin: These coffins are the most traditional eco-friendly option on the market. The casket itself is made of inexpensive, biodegradable materials, but is finished off with a classic wood veneer that looks just like a regular casket. The final appearance is the same (with traditional stains, finishes, and accents), but the materials are much less expensive and damaging to the earth.
- Pine Coffin: If you want a more traditional coffin, it’s a good idea to go with a low-cost, high-yield wood like pine. It doesn’t provide the same finish as the more expensive hardwoods, but you can stain the casket to appear however you want, and cotton or other biodegradable linings can provide even more environmentally friendly appeal.
- Water Hyacinth/Willow/Bamboo Coffin: Water hyacinth (along with willow and bamboo, both of which are common eco-friendly coffin options) is a very fast-growing material. Because it is so easily replaceable within the ecosystem, it makes an ideal choice. These materials also have something of a history behind them; water hyacinth, for example, is a common burial option Ireland, since trees and hardwoods were much more difficult to come by.
- Wool/Linen/Cotton Coffin: A wool or linen casket is actually composed of a recycled cardboard (or wooden) frame with the fabric stretched over the outside. These types of caskets aren’t robust, but they function very well for a simple, low-key ceremony.
- Paper/Cardboard Coffin: These types of caskets are almost always made out of recycled materials and put the least amount of strain on the environment. Don’t expect much in the way of outward appeal—even though you can opt for painted or specialty cardboard, the look is almost always one of rustic simplicity.
Every year, over 1 million tons of concrete and over 800,000 gallons of embalming fluid are put into the earth in America for burial purposes—and that’s not counting the caskets themselves. Green burials are a great way to help reduce this strain on the environment. Whether you want to plan a funeral that takes eco-friendly options to the maximum, or if you’d like simple elegance on a budget, these eco-friendly casket choices are a great way to go.