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.
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.
Florists can use bio-degradable oasis products and recycle frames where possible. More families are also now preferring natural flower arrangements. If less cellophane and plastic ribboning are used this would make a real difference.
Whilst they serve a practical purpose in the safe delivery of a loved one to their final resting place, coffins can look harsh and scary.
Coffins made from natural materials such as pine, seagrass, willow, bamboo, banana leaf and cardboard look softer and will degrade naturally, impacting less on the environment.
Those who do still prefer a traditional coffin however, could perhaps opt for one without the plastic decorative handles. Coffins fitted for cremations usually have six large plastic handles, which are not needed.
Care of the body and embalming
Bodies don’t need to be embalmed, as was standard practice in the past. The process is invasive and the chemicals used very toxic, so if the Funeral Director has good quality care facilities it is not usually necessary.
If you want a truly green funeral, we can dress the person in clothes of totally natural fibres. Natural gowns or shrouds can also be used.
We also use natural lotions and moisturisers with essential oils to clean and scent the body instead of harsh chemical based products.
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 sites often offer a nicer feel for families to visit after the death.
In Kent there are several woodland burial sites:
Some cemeteries also offer greener areas where natural burials can take place – we can look into this in your local area for you.
Natural burial sites require bio-degradable coffins such as cardboard or natural fibres, no plastic and natural clothing. They will often propose planting of trees and wildflowers which can mark an anniversary or memorial event.
The cost of a natural burial is about the same as a traditional burial, but the cost to the environment is much lower.
The definition of a ‘Green Funeral’ by the Good Funeral Guide:
A green funeral
Some of the more important elements of a green funeral are these:
- rejects cremation
- opts for burial in a site serving a conservation purpose
- creates an environment which is not visually definable as a burial ground
- reviles embalming
- requires a coffin or shroud locally made from natural, sustainable materials
For more information:
- forbids demarcation of the grave
- forbids marking or personalising of the grave with any sort of permanent memorial
- forbids tending of the grave
- It is not the grave that commemorates the life lived, it is the entire site.
There are also many ways to hold a fitting and greener memorial for a loved one.
Tree planting would help to lower carbon emissions as well as a strong earthly connection to the person who has died. In mythology different trees denote a variation of beliefs:
Hazel – Wisdom, faith, inspiration
Silver birch – Sacred- new beginnings, renewal, protection
Olive – Peace, friendship
Oak – Strength, survival
Get in Touch
Please feel free to contact us at any time, whether to discuss your options, to seek our advice or to simply ask any questions you might have.
We regularly serve the whole of Kent and also more widely across the UK when requested.
Our new branch in Great Chart, just outside of Ashford Is now open. Please contact us on either number for information.
Offices are open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday
We are available to help 24/7