As environmental awareness has grown, the idea of green funerals has become more and more appealing to those who wish to lessen their impact on the earth. From green coffins to funeral homes that have adapted an entirely eco-friendly approach, those who choose to live an ecologically responsible lifestyle may be both sur prised and pleased to learn about the variety of green funeral options that continue to emerge.
Green Funeral Options
· Green Coffins: Caskets can create a problem when it comes to planning a green funeral. The heavy, polished wood and metal coffins that are commonly chosen are not easily biodegradable and can significantly inhibit the process of returning ones remains to the earth. So-calle d “green coffins” have a lower impact and biodegrade much more quickly and easily. A number of options are available for those looking for green coffins, with bamboo, cardboard, and jute being good choices. Some choose to forego even a green coffin, opting instead to be buried in only a shroud.
· Preservation: Unfortunately, many of the practices that are now typical in the modern funeral are not particularly earth-friendly. For example, the practice of embalming is nearly standard. The chemicals that are used in this process, however, are not usually eco-friendly. Those looking to plan a green funeral should consider requesting a closed casket and a quick burial in order to avoid the need for embalming.
· Flowers: Flowers are a traditional part of the funeral process, and they do serve a beautiful and significant purpose. On the other hand, many of the arrangements at a funeral are far from eco-friendly. Many have a huge carbon footprint, having been flown halfway around the world from a place where that particular variety is in season. In addition, many are treated with large doses of insecticides, fungicides, and other chemicals. A green funeral might include a request that donations be made to a conservation group in lieu of flowers for these reasons.
· Monuments: While stone markers have long been the tradition in memorials, a green burial might employ the use of a “living monument.” Planting a tree or a perennial garden in the deceased’s memory is a beautiful way to honor him or her, and it actually gives back to the planet, rather than taking away from it through mining.
· Service Considerations: When planning the green funeral service, those with strong ecological convictions can go even further. Green funeral homes may provide programs that are produced on recycled paper, for instance. Even if the funeral home in question isn’t technically “green,” there is no reason that recycled paper cannot be requested. Travel arrangements from the funeral home to the cemetery can be more eco-friendly if carpooling is used, and it gives mourners an opportunity to spend more time together, as well.
· Cremation: Whether or not cremation is eco-friendly is questionable. Pros include the fact that land is not being used for burial, embalming chemicals don’t make their way into the groundwater, etc. On the other hand, if the deceased has been embalmed, chemicals are released into the air. Many funeral homes and crematoriums are working toward lowering emissions, however, and systems are becoming more and more efficient.
Green burials are not necessarily possible in all places, so pre-planning is definitely necessary. Many states have very strict requirements requiring concrete vaults in graves, for example. These regulations can seriously impede plans for a green funeral. In order to ensure one’s wishes are followed, it is important to lay them out in advance. This may require finding a dedicated green funeral home, or at least working with someone locally who can help determine what steps can be taken to fulfill as many wishes as possible within legal parameters.
Living in an environmentally conscious way is an important aspect of many people’s lives today, and funeral customs have always been a way of celebrating both life and beliefs. Green funerals are an option for honoring ecological beliefs and incorporating them into even one’s last statement.