Green Funerals and Cremations 101

Green Funerals & Cremations

Any person that lives life with a concern for the environment should have the option to continue those values in death. An industry has grown up around providing a more environmentally-conscious version of the rituals that many hold dear after the loss of a loved one. If you think a green funeral or cremation might be right for you, here are some of the main things you need to know.

What Is a Green Funeral?

A green burial, sometimes called a natural burial, is any burial made with care taken to avoid the negative environmental effects common to traditional burial. Many people assume that there are laws requiring embalming and caskets for sanitation purposes, but in fact neither of these features of traditional burials are required, and many feel the chemicals and substances used for them can be damaging to the earth.

The green burial movement gives people the option to skip those steps and bury their loved ones either in a shroud or a casket made of natural materials that will decompose on their own.

What Are the Benefits of Green Funerals?

The most obvious benefit is the knowledge that your loved one’s body will go back into the ground in the way most humans throughout history have, with no negative consequences to the earth itself. You don’t have to worry about unnecessary chemicals complicating the process of decomposition or damaging the natural environment into which your loved one is placed.

A green funeral can also sometimes feel more personal. You have a choice between handling your loved one’s body yourself or handing it over to a funeral home to manage. Some green cemeteries will let you dig your own grave. That won’t sound like a benefit for everyone, but it saves money and, for some people, serves as a cathartic and satisfying act.

At the end of the day, you have much more control over what a green funeral looks like and which parts of it you take on yourself.

Without the embalming process, the chemicals needed for it, or the need for a casket, a green burial usually comes at a much lower cost than a traditional funeral. If saving money is important, it’s one of the best choices available.

Where Can I Perform a Green Burial?

The Green Burial Council is the best place to turn to identify green funeral providers. You can find which green cemeteries are closest to you and know that they’ve been certified by a reliable third party.

What is Green Cremation?

While cremation often seems like the more environmentally friendly choice than burial, flame-based cremation actually has some negative consequences for the earth. It both releases harmful toxins into the environment and uses a lot of energy to complete.

Green cremation uses water and potassium hydroxide to reduce the body to ash without the need of any flames. It uses less energy and avoids releasing any of those harmful toxins.

What Are the Benefits of Green Cremation?

You’ll still receive the ashes of your loved one, as you would with traditional cremation, but you can trust that the process of getting there is better for the environment. The financial cost is comparable to what you would pay for a flame-based cremation and considerably less than you would pay for a traditional funeral.

It’s not too often that following your values can mean saving money too, but when it comes to how you choose to honor a loved one who has passed, the results accomplish both things. If you think outside the norm, you can plan a funeral that allows you more control over how your loved one is honored, saves money, and help the environment all at the same time.

Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.

3 Comments

  1. Derek Mcdoogle September 15, 2016 Reply

    My cousin’s father passed away last night in his sleep and the family has really taken it hard. You mentioned that a green burial sometimes called a natural burial, is any burial made with care taken to avoid the negative environmental effects common to traditional burial. Do most funeral homes offer this type of burial service? Hiring a professional funeral home might be a good idea.

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