Also known as green or eco-friendly funerals, there are many choices that you can make to help minimise the environmental impact and leave a smaller carbon footprint than a traditional funeral.
80% of people in the UK opt for Cremation. Initially, cremation was assumed to be a cleaner alternative to burial; it is far more harmful to the environment.
Did you know? One cremation uses as much energy in gas and electricity as a 500-mile car trip. It releases a staggering 400 kilos of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, not to mention mercury vapour and other pollutants.
(source: Natural Death Centre http://www.naturaldeath.org.uk/index.php?page=cremation)
On the plus side, no land is used up when cremation occurs. All crematoria now recycle the artificial hips, knees, elbows, and other metal body implants after the cremated remains have cooled, rather than all being buried together in a particular grave. (Titanium implants are now sold, with the monies donated to local charities).
Local crematoria require funeral directors to sign a declaration that there are no PVCs, plastics, fibreglass, styrofoam, zinc or rubber products in the coffin or the clothing. Many crematoria now have a monitor that can detect such products while burning.
Burial has a lesser impact on the environment. Still, it is essential to look at the overall picture: A burial in a municipal cemetery is worse for the planet than a natural burial due to the materials used in constructing the coffin and materials sourced and transported for a headstone.
The most eco-friendly choice is woodland or natural burial. Regulations regarding coffin construction, clothing and no permanent memorialisation options enable these burial sites to protect the natural woodland and provide a home for flora and fauna.
By selecting an eco-friendly coffin, you are choosing materials that are natural and from sustainable sources. These materials will break down over time, becoming part of the earth when used for burial.
Eco-friendly coffins are not just reserved for burial; If the person who has died has a preference to be cremated, you can still make conscious decisions to make the funeral sustainable.
Here are some of the options for an eco-friendly coffin:
These coffins have no metal or plastic fixings, which means 90% fewer carbon emissions than a standard coffin for cremation.
There are many simple, sustainable choices that you can make to help lower the impact a Cremation Service has on the environment; these can include:
Burial in a Municipal (local council-run) Cemeteries: There are many ideas mentioned in the cremation section that you can incorporate into service for burial in a municipal cemetery; here are some other ideas:
The downside to a burial in a municipal cemetery is the energy that goes into maintaining the land, which needs to be mowed, watered and fertilised, and digging the graves, which is usually done by mechanical diggers.
Natural Burial: There are over 270 natural burial sites in the UK. By making woodland, wildflower meadows and parkland into a burial site, landowners protect the land from future development and bring back native plants and animals. Graves are typically dug by hand, and some natural burial sites allow graves to be marked. In contrast, others do not permit any identifying features, turning the site into a living memorial.
Things to remember: Burials can be considerably more expensive than cremation, and it isn't always the most practical choice.
Please get in touch if you want information about natural burials or options to make a funeral service more sustainable.
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