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Planning an Eco-friendly Funeral
Are there greener ways to cremate and do the funeral gestures for our loved ones? There are. Read ON!
As many of us consider how our habits impact the environment, it follows that some might want to consider the impact our death will have as well. Traditionally, our choices were limited: embalming, caskets and cement crypts or cremation. Seeing these options through an ecologically conscious lens brings to light the many chemicals, non-renewable materials, energy use and pollution that often goes into every part of modern funeral planning.
But what if there was a better, greener way to do it? What if you can make your last gesture one of harmony with the planet? Recent innovations—and even re-adoption of ancient ways—have presented unique and eco-friendly ways to plan for your final farewell.
Letting nature do the work
Having a shellacked, hardwood coffin inside a cement lining six feet underground doesn’t exactly scream “green”. A new wave of burial options that harken back to old traditions changes this, providing alternatives that are environmentally and economically friendly.
Biodegradable coffins are now available, simply made from pine, wicker or even sturdy cardboard. If you really want to re-use and recycle, you can buy a wooden bookcase you use in life that can be repurposed as a casket when the time comes.
Burial shrouds are back in fashion as well. A thick cloth made from natural fibers (like unbleached cotton, linen or hemp) completely covers the body and ties down on a pine plank. This can help the natural process of decomposition, as well as being buried in a shallower grave about three feet down where your body will be closer to the warmth and wet of the earth.
One to grow on
If you’re more interested in some form of earthly afterlife, there are ground and ocean options you can choose.
Using the remains from a traditional cremation, several companies have created living urns—essentially bio-degradable containers that combine your ashes with a sapling tree or plant of your choice. The tree can be planted in a forest or on a residential property and could become a treasured place for family and friends to visit.
If you prefer the water, your ashes can be combined with specially cast concrete mounds. The mounds are dropped into the ocean, where they are used by marine life to grow coral reefs and set up new ecosystems. In either case, you can become an eternal host to a new life.
Traditional cremation releases smoke and particulates into the air, making it less eco-friendly than some may prefer. However, a new process called alkaline hydrolysis is growing in popularity.
Also called resomation or water cremation, this process uses water and lye to break the body down chemically. The result is white colored ashy dust and green-brown liquid. The ash can be delivered to the next-of-kin, just as traditional ashes might be, whilst the liquid can actually be used to help growth in a garden.
Celebration of Life
When it comes time to hold the funeral, there are green considerations that can be taken into account as well. Even if you won’t be there to see it, you can leave instructions for a beautiful ceremony and a memorable wake that cuts down on waste.
Flowers are a traditional part of many funerals—a gesture of comfort to families and a physical way to show you’re thinking about them. But a new tradition is blooming: Asking for donations to your favorite charity in lieu of flowers is becoming a more common request. If you still want flowers at your funeral, you can ask people to bring them from their own gardens rather than ordering imported flowers that have a heavy carbon footprint.
in a big hearse and multiple limousines is definitely not the greenest way to handle the trip from ceremony to burial to wake. A dimension of fellowship could be added to the day by asking guests to carpool and share stories about you along the way. There are even eco-friendly alternatives to the traditional hearse, such as horse and carriage, electric vehicle and even a bicycle hearse!
Food and drink
Food and drink is often a big part of the wake, giving friends and family a time to share more time together as they remember the deceased. Plan to use seasonal foods from local farms and vendors to keep it green. If alcohol will be served, reusable microbrewery growlers can replace bottles and cans.
Making it happen
Eco-friendly funeral options are becoming more common, but they may still be unknown to your family or priced outside their budget. However, there are steps you can take help to insure that your final wishes are known and won’t leave loved ones in debt.
Get the Latest & Recommended articles in your InboxWriting down your exact funeral wishes could make it easier for those who love you, and funeral insurance could help cover the costs. These steps might be the ultimate display of love towards your family as you also show your love for the planet.
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Any facts, figures or references stated here are made by the author & don't reflect the endorsement of iU at all times unless otherwise drafted by official staff at iU. This article was first published here on 14th August 2019.