Green Burials: The Eco-Friendly Option
Many people are not aware of the negative effects traditional burial methods have on the environment. Techniques that are good for preserving a body such as embalming fluids and non-degradable grave liners are hazardous to the environment. Likewise, cremation pollutes our environment by releasing harmful emissions into the air and soil.
And so, any experienced funeral director can tell you that a green funeral is a much more environmentally gentle way of saying a final goodbye. From dressing the body in biodegradable clothing to having burials without a grave liner, here is everything you need to know about green burials.
What is a green burial and why you should consider it?
Ideally, you should leave the world with as minimal an environmental footprint as possible. There is a growing awareness of being more environmentally conscious and people are slowly beginning to opt for having a burial that is friendlier to the planet.
With a green burial, you can do just that. The method is pretty simple – the body is wrapped in a biodegradable shroud or placed in a biodegradable casket and then buried directly into the earth, in an unmarked spot to further reduce the impact on the environment.
This alternative burial method is far more sustainable and environmentally friendly than the traditional way of doing things – and also more cost-effective, too. Green burials are also viewed as a much more natural way to be memorialised as opposed to dousing the body with preserving chemicals or burning it.
Just how “green” are green burials?
Traditional burials use toxic embalming chemicals, such as formaldehyde – which is a carcinogen – that seep into the earth over time. Then there are the maintenance requirements for the cemetery which involve the use of tonnes of pesticides, chemical fertilisers, and water. In addition, an excessive amount of wood is needed for the building of caskets and coffins which requires clearing off large acres of forests.
Meanwhile, cremation requires a huge amount of fuel – around 36 kilograms of gas for a single procedure – to get a body down to ash. And during the process, hazardous emissions such as carbon monoxide, mercury, and cancer-inducing polychlorinated dibenzo-para-dioxins (PCDDs) and polychlorinated dibenzofurans (PCDFs) are released into the air despite filtration systems.
In contrast, green burials have no embalming procedures. The body will be buried, usually unmarked, directly into the earth without a grave liner or protective vault. This way, the green burial method greatly reduces one’s carbon footprint.
The use of green coffins and markers
Wood to build traditional coffins and caskets uses up millions of acres of forest – that is an awful amount of natural resources going to waste, especially at the height of global warming and climate change. These coffins and caskets can take decades before they begin to decompose, and the metal parts take even longer.
Green coffins are not only made from natural materials that are recyclable, but they are also safely biodegradable. They are built in a fashion that is both non-toxic as well as environmentally sustainable. These coffins and caskets also decompose a lot faster without any impact on the surrounding ground area. You can check with a green funeral home of your choice on the different types of eco-friendly coffin materials such as cardboard, wicker, bamboo, willow, and more.
Gravestones and markers are individual memorials that not only damage the environment – traditional headstones are heavy concrete that takes decades or centuries to fully break down – they also take up space. Green burials, on the other hand, are usually unmarked, though they can be found through satellite coordinates if they are not marked with a green headstone. If needed, they can be marked with naturally occurring elements such as rock, tree, or flower, and look beautiful without becoming an obstruction for so long.
Discover more about green funerals
Our goal should be to leave as few negative effects on the world as we possibly can, and a green burial allows us to do just that. It is an attractive option for those who have lived their lives in an environmentally-conscious way and would like to ensure that their send-off is equally eco-friendly in nature.
Unlike the traditional burial method, green burials have no one-size-fits-all rule so you can customise it to have as many or as few eco-friendly features as you wish. Reach out to a green funeral home near you to find out more about this eco-friendly send-off.