Like everything we do in the world today, our funerals also have an impact on the environment, and sadly the funeral industry is one of the most polluting. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we all have to suddenly become eco-warriors when trying to arrange a funeral, but there are a few fairly simple things that can be done to limit the impact.
At the end of a life, creating a fitting memorial in a person’s name, whilst trying to balance working in harmony with the natural world can be a bit overwhelming.
Thinking of the environment doesn’t always sit at the forefront of our minds with the trauma of bereavement and organising a funeral. This is why we have laid out a few pointers below on ways to do this. We are working towards making this an everyday practice in the funeral world but there is a long road ahead. In the meantime, if more and more people agree to make small changes, we can make a real impact.
For those who wish to go further, please do chat to us as we can work together to create a service which is more natural.
Please download our booklet on greener funerals to find out more
What are greener choices?
There are many ways of limiting the impact of our funerals on the environment. Some are small, others more complicated.
Some of the easier ways of making the funeral more eco-friendly are:
Natural products for the care of the body
No embalming or chemicals
Natural fibres for clothing the person who has died
Coffins made from natural or biodegradable materials
Natural flower arrangements with no ribbons or cellophane
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.
The person can be dressed in clothes of totally natural fibres, or 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.
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.
People’s tastes are changing, and more and more are now opting for natural flower arrangements. Florists can opt for bio-degradable oasis products and recycle letter frames where possible and can even make totally natural tributes, including the container. Simply using less cellophane and plastic ribbons can make a real difference too.
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:
- 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 or the use of any chemicals
- Requires a coffin or shroud made from natural, sustainable materials
For more information:
- Natural demarcation of the grave
- Forbids marking or personalising of the grave with any sort of permanent memorial
- It is not just 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 branch in Great Chart, just outside of Ashford has also been open since January 2018. We have plenty of free parking. Please contact us on either number for information.
Offices are open 9am-5pm Monday to Friday
We are available to help 24/7
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