Green vs. Traditional Funerals
Green funerals are also commonly referred to as Green or Natural burials. They differ from traditional funerals as they aim to reduce their impact on Earth by incorporating environmentally friendly elements. These may include eco-coffins, caskets or shrouds, minimal or no embalming chemicals and natural headstones such as rocks, flowers or a tree.
The body of the deceased is dressed in biodegradable clothing and a specialised funeral director and green burial site is selected. Another significant point of difference is that Green Burial graves are usually 3 feet deep instead of the traditional 6 feet, thereby removing the need for excavating equipment.
Whilst many perceive a Green Funeral as a more natural means of being memorialised, many also cite greater sustainability and the reduced environmental footprint as being the main reason for their selection.
If you’re a figures kinda person and want some hard facts, you may be surprised to learn that Green Funerals have been shown to reduce the carbon footprint by 30kg of carbon dioxide per burial, that’s the equivalent of leaving a TV on for 7.5 days straight or a lightbulb on for 96 days. Another staggering fact to consider is that 4 million acres of forest is needed to build coffins and caskets a year.
Whilst cremations are commonly thought of as a greener alternative to traditional burials, the process of cremating the body involves burning a body at 760-1,150 degrees Celsius for 75 minutes. This process uses an astounding amount of energy that's equivalent to the entire energy needs of a single person for a whole month.
Green Burial Sites
To be buried in either a Natural Burial Site or a Green Cemetery, a Green or Eco Coffin must be selected. Green Coffins are commonly fashioned from wicker, cardboard, seagrass, rattan, raw teak, bamboo, willow and cotton, linen or wool. As compared with their traditional counterparts, Green Coffins are designed to decompose much faster and with minimal impact to the local environment.
Another Green option to consider when planning a funeral is the use of Shrouds. Whilst the rules around the use of Shrouds in traditional cemeteries vary from state to state, most natural burial sites will allow (and prefer) the use of burial shrouds over coffins.
Are Green Funerals less impact on the hip pocket? Well, the cost of a Green Funeral usually sits somewhere between the cost of a cremation and a traditional funeral. This is because a Green Funeral typically requires all the same components as a traditional burial. Elements that do come in cheaper include the grave plot, simple, inexpensive coffins or shrouds plus no or minimal cost for the headstone.
Some extra points to consider, when planning a Green Funeral include using recycled paper for the orders of service, asking friends and family for donations to environmental charities instead of flowers and wreaths and asking for formaldehyde-free alternatives if some preservation of the deceased body is required.
To make your funeral wishes known, start writing your Will online.