Like everything we do, our funerals are adding to the world’s pollution crisis, and sadly the funeral industry is one of the most polluting.
This is fact, and there are a few alterations that we can all make to minimise the impact our decisions are having on the environment, even after death.
Increasingly people are realising their ethical responsibility and searching for alternative ways to cut their own carbon emissions in daily practice, such as buying local sustainably made products that can be recycled.
At the end of a life, creating a fitting Service and memorial in the name of the person who has died, whilst working in better harmony with our environment doesn’t always sit at the forefront of our minds when in the trauma of organising a funeral.
We are working towards making this an everyday practice in the funeral world. This can be as simple as making a few adjustments to a traditional service, which will have a real impact if more and more people agree to make small changes. For those who wish to go further, there are a host of options to replace our traditional often Victorian burials and cremations of the past. Sadly, families don’t always get offered them or feel they can defer from the ‘normal’ practice.
There are kinder alternatives for the person who has died and those left behind, and ways of offering personal thought and care to your loved one without adding unnecessarily to the carbon emissions of cremation or burial.
Bodies don’t need to be embalmed, as was standard practice in the past. The chemicals used are toxic and the process invasive, so if the Funeral Director has good quality care facilities it is not usually necessary.
Dressing and care of the person who has died
The person can be dressed using clothes made from natural fibres, and without shoes. Natural gowns or shrouds can also be used. We also have natural lotions and moisturisers which can be used to care for and clean their skin.
This is a big decision to be made by families.
Some people hate the thought and the sight of the traditional wooden coffin. Whilst they serve a practical purpose in the safe delivery of a loved one to their final resting place, they can be also visually cold and scary to a lot of people, and it is often the sight of the coffin that triggers our upset at a Service.
Coffins made from natural materials such as pine, seagrass, willow, bamboo, banana leaf and cardboard can soften your experience and emotional need, and will degrade naturally, causing a lot less of an impact on the environment. (Please see our products page for natural coffins).
Those who do still prefer a traditional coffin however, could perhaps choose the option of ordering it without the plastic decorative handles. Coffins fitted for cremations usually have six large plastic handles, which are not needed. This cannot be done for coffins fitted for burials however.
Opting for a coffin with no plastic is such a simple and efficient step to being kinder to the environment.
The satin inner could also be removed and replaced by a natural material, thus adding to the natural look, and being kinder in using bio-degradable products. The natural trim is slightly more expensive, but as the demand rises, the price will come down.
Florists can also get on board by using bio-degradable oasis products and maybe recycling frames where possible. More families are asking for less wastage in this area now and preferring more natural flower arrangements. If less cellophane and plastic ribboning was used that would make a real difference.
For those who wish to go a little further in choosing a greener funeral, a natural burial would be the ideal option. More and more people are taking an interest in this now, as it makes sense to return after death to a more natural environment, and the thought of visiting a woodland area often softens the thought of a loved one’s final resting place.
In Kent there are several woodland burial sites, including Eden Valley in Edenbridge www.edenvalleyburials.org.uk or Riverview near Sittingbourne www.kent naturalburials.co.uk.
Some cemeteries also offer a greener area where natural burials can take place – we can look into this in your local area for you.
Natural burial sites require bio-degradable coffins, and propose planting of trees and wildflowers. This less clinical environment enhances the local natural scenery and offer a quiet, peaceful resting place for your loved one. This can be an enormous comfort to those left behind and aid the healing process considerably.
The cost of a natural burial is about the same as a traditional burial, but much more sustainable.
To find out more about natural burials – please take a look at the very informative Natural Death Centre website: naturaldeath.org.uk