The term “green funeral” refers to ceremony, service, and body disposition that focuses on preservation of the earth. Many of those who live “green” also wish to end “green”. Just as living green is carried out in different ways and with many choices, there are also many different methods of having a green funeral. Your funeral director is your best guide to the green funeral options available in your geographic area.
For one person living green may mean passing on the offer of a plastic straw. For others, green may mean living off the grid and bicycling to work. One can be all in, or just a little green. Funerals can also be greenish or very green.
Sometimes a green living choice comes with a cost savings and sometimes going green costs more. For example, you’ll use less fuel with a hybrid automobile. Using less gas will generate a cost savings. However, you will usually pay more for a hybrid car than for the same make and model that is not hybrid. Green is not about saving dollars—it is a lifestyle. A belief system motivated by a sense of responsibility for our home, the planet earth. It is a choice.
If you are motivated to pursue a green goodbye, you will be pleased to know that your choice will not require that you give up any of the healing aspects of a funeral service. Service, gathering, and viewing the body can all be included in a green funeral.
Funeral directors have access to environmentally friendly embalming chemicals. If your family prefers to have the body present for the funeral service that can be accomplished. Should a private family viewing be more in line with your green funeral plans, the body can be simply prepared without embalming to make that experience possible for family members.
Green cemeteries or green areas in traditional cemeteries usually do not require a burial vault or grave liner. The body is shrouded and placed directly in the earth or placed in a biodegradable container which is buried. Those who opt for a green burial do so because disruption to the earth is minimized. No harsh chemicals from embalming, no treated wood or metal casket and no metals or concreate from a grave liner are introduced in the grave space. If you remember our hybrid car example something similar occurs with green burials. In most cemeteries a green burial space will cost more than a traditional burial space, but you will not incur the cost of the vault.
For those who prefer cremation you will need to know that all cremators (the device where cremation takes place) are not created equal. Newer models tend to have a smaller carbon footprint. Ask your funeral director which providers in your area are the most environmentally friendly.
There are also many different green options when it comes to the final resting place for cremated remains. Cremated remains can be incorporated into objects that become family heirlooms, or, they can become part of an underwater reef. There is a nearly unlimited number of earth-friendly alternatives of what to do with cremated remains. When making funeral arrangements tell your funeral director that green is important to you and ask for help in finding service providers that support your values.