What are green funerals?

What are green funerals? main image

When planning their funeral arrangements an increasing number of people are now considering the option of a green funeral. A green, natural or environmentally friendly funeral is an alternative to a traditional funeral or cremation and uses materials and methods that are likely to have the least detrimental effect on the environment. In this article we look at some of the features of a green funeral, explain the benefits that they are believed to bring to the environment and highlight some of their perceived drawbacks. 


Features of a Green Funeral

In most green funerals the body of the deceased is placed in a bio-degradable coffin and then buried on a green burial site. The coffin is often made from recycled paper, although alternative materials are cardboard, banana leaf, wicker and bamboo. A further option is to use a cotton shroud for the body to be buried in rather than a coffin.   

As well as the choice of burial container, the type of burial site has also to be decided on. Most green burials are in woodland sites.   

The main objective is to make sure that the burial has as little impact on the woodland site as possible. As a result, the grave is not marked by a headstone. Instead, it is likely to be identified by the planting of a new tree, shrub or flowers and, at the most, a small memorial plaque. More simple woodland burials involve little or no way of identifying the grave other than through a map that is provided by the funeral director or the burial site owner. As the woodland grows, the burial site of the body is consumed by and becomes part of it. Unlike in traditional funerals, the body is not embalmed after death.   

Benefits of a Green Funeral 

The main advantage of green funerals is that they are environmentally friendly. The materials used are always bio-degradable, causing minimal damage to the soil in which the body is buried. Supporters of green funerals contrast this with the harm done to the soil by the toxic chemicals used in embalming and lacquered wooden coffins. The absence of gravestones also preserves the integrity of the surrounding area, unlike the concrete or marble headstones used in traditional funerals. 

Traditional burials, using non bio-degradable materials, are also felt to slow down the rate of decomposition, depriving the burial area of nutrients and minerals that might otherwise be available from the body. Further benefits are less tangible but include the creation, because the exact location of the body is not marked, of a feeling that the entire burial site represents a memorial to the deceased and a feeling that, because there is no embalming, it is a more natural and respectful way of treating the body of a loved one. 

Finally, green funerals are likely to be less expensive than a traditional ceremony.   

green funerals

Some Disadvantages 

Undoubtedly, the biggest drawback in a green funeral is that, in many cases, the identification of the exact location of the grave will become lost as the woodland grows. For many, it is a comfort to visit the exact site of the grave. Secondly, there are a limited number of green burial sites. This means that it may be necessary to travel a long way for both the funeral service and any subsequent family visits. Paradoxically, concerns have been raised in some quarters that green funerals may have a detrimental effect on the eco-system but there is little, if any, evidence to support this.   

Arranging a Green Funeral 

If you are thinking about a green funeral the easiest way to arrange one is by contacting a local woodland burial site. They will be able to advise you as to the cost, their particular policies regarding marking the grave and their choices of commemorative tree on their burial site.

Or if you are looking to prepay for your green funeral then you can contact a prepaid funeral plan provider.

Don't miss out...

Sign up to our monthly newsletter for the latest updates