How to Plan a Green Funeral
Green funerals, which are defined as any funeral plan that put an emphasis on reducing the burden on both the earth and the wallet, are becoming an increasingly popular choice in the modern world. It doesn’t matter whether you are funeral planning in advance or if you are facing the sudden loss of a loved one – “going green” is a great way to honor the deceased while also making responsible burial decisions.
One of the best things about planning a green funeral is that there are many ways to overlap traditional burial arrangements and cremation plans with a more eco-friendly approach to both life and death.
• Forgo embalming: Every year, more than a million gallons of embalming fluid are put into the ground in the United States alone. By choosing not to embalm the body and closing the casket, you can help reduce the amount of chemicals being manufactured and released into the earth.
• Choose a wood casket: Metal caskets contribute to increased mining efforts and also put metals directly into the ground. Wood, on the other hand, naturally degrades and can still provide a very beautiful resting place for the deceased. One way to go even further is to consider a burial shroud or (in some locations) a casket-replacement like a plywood or cardboard container.
• Opt for cremation. Cremation is an increasingly popular option for those who wish to streamline the funeral planning process. Accepted worldwide and by virtually all religions, cremation allows you to sidestep burial in option of condensing remains into a small, portable vessel. In many cases, these remains can be interred in an urn for traditional burial or for scattering in a beloved location. Other, more non-traditional options include condensing the cremains into a wearable diamond, sending a portion of the remains up into space, or even creating a reef ball, which combines the cremains with an eco-friendly concrete that is buried at sea and becomes an attachment point for sea life.
• Make sure funeral planning focuses on conservation. Ask that family members send donations to a favorite charity in lieu of sympathy flowers or condolence cards. Choose a funeral webcast instead of flying in family members from all over the country. Even small steps can make a big
impact when looked at from a big picture standpoint.
• Consider a “natural burial.” Natural burials are currently only available in select states and by licensed providers, but they are a great option for those who live in the select areas or who plan for a funeral ahead of time. These burial arrangements are all-inclusive, and allow the body to be buried with as little hassle or ceremony as possible. The final resting place is among a natural wildlife setting that thrives on the “natural” fertilizers of the decomposition process.
If ecological awareness is really important to you, you may even want to make a funeral plan that lays out all your wishes in advance, so that your family will know exactly how to act in accordance with your wishes. Because so many green funeral choices go against time-honored traditions, it may be difficult for your loved ones to make these decisions once you have passed.
The legacy you and your loved ones leave behind are likely to last for centuries – whether you intend them to or not. By making smart, green burial options, you can promote a better tomorrow even while saying goodbye to your own yesterdays.
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By Amy Johnson