How to have a sustainable funeral

26th October 2023#other
How to have a sustainable funeral

Rhi Leedam

Managing Director

In a world grappling with environmental challenges and growing concerns about the ecological impact of human activities, sustainability has become a paramount issue. World Sustainability Day serves as a poignant reminder of our collective responsibility to protect and preserve the planet. From reducing our carbon footprint to making mindful choices, there are numerous ways to promote sustainability.

One such avenue, often overlooked, is the realm of funerals. So how might you go about having a sustainable funeral?

1. Choose Eco-friendly Caskets or Shrouds

If you opt for a burial, select a biodegradable casket or shroud made from sustainable materials like bamboo, willow, or organic cotton. Click here to view some examples. This choice reduces the environmental impact of your burial.

2. Opt Out of Embalming

Ask your selected Funeral Director not to use embalming fluids or toxic cleaning chemicals when preparing the body. These are not necessary and can contaminate the earth/groundwater (burial) or the air (cremation).

3. Local and Organic Flowers

When selecting funeral flowers, choose local and organic options to support local growers, or even pick them from your own garden and reduce the carbon footprint associated with shipping flowers from distant locations.

4. Limit Transportation

Keep the funeral location and burial site as close as possible to minimise transportation emissions. Encourage attendees to carpool or use public transport to reduce their carbon footprint.

5. Green Memorialisation

Consider memorial options that are sustainable, such as:

  • dedicating a tree,
  • finding a locally sourced and made memorial (not imported granite)
  • planting a favourite flower in your garden
  • donating to a local environmental cause in memory of your loved one.

6. Reduce Paper Usage

Create digital invitations or orders of service instead of paper ones. If printed materials are necessary, use recycled or FSC-certified paper.

7. Choose Natural Burial

In recent years, natural burial grounds have gained popularity as a sustainable alternative to traditional cemeteries or crematoriums. These burial grounds offer a place that respects the ecosystem of life and supports the principles of sustainability. Here’s why natural burial grounds are considered an eco-friendly choice:

  1. Biodegradable Materials: Natural burials encourage the use of biodegradable caskets or shrouds. These materials break down naturally, returning the deceased to the earth without the environmental harm caused by traditional coffins, often made from non-renewable resources.
  2. Conservation of Natural Spaces: Natural burial grounds preserve large expanses of land as green spaces, providing habitats for local flora and fauna. This helps to maintain biodiversity and counteract urban development’s impact on natural ecosystems.
  3. Minimal Chemicals: Traditional embalming fluids contain harmful chemicals. In contrast, natural burials typically prohibit embalming, reducing the release of hazardous substances into the soil.
  4. Native Plantings: Many natural burial grounds incorporate native plantings to enhance the natural beauty of the site while providing vital food and shelter for local wildlife.
  5. Carbon Sequestration: Natural burials promote the absorption of carbon through the planting of trees, which sequester carbon dioxide and help combat climate change.

In summary…

On World Sustainability Day, it is essential to reflect on the choices we make in all aspects of life, including our final farewell. Natural burial grounds and sustainable funeral practices offer a way to say goodbye to those who have died while respecting the planet.

By choosing eco-friendly options, we can reduce our environmental impact and contribute to a more sustainable future. In doing so, we honour the memory of those we have lost while leaving a positive legacy for future generations to embrace.

We have 10 beautiful natural burial grounds across the UK, click here to view them.