Green funerals and green burials

It may be strange to find a section on ‘green funerals and green burials’  under the heading ‘green living’, yet death is part of the pattern of life, and as Benjamin Franklin  said “… nothing can be certain but death and taxes”.

Death and dying are not subjects that many of us like to discuss or think about. The Dying Matters Coalition, works to break this taboo, and support the knowledge and attitudes towards death, dying and bereavement. Talking about what sort of funeral arrangements you or those close to you would want can be hard. Yet for those who have lived a life caring about their impact on the environment, planning an environmentally friendly funeral is a natural ending.  Interest in this area has grown over recent years, and as well as there being a greater choice of environmentally friendly coffins and caskets – including wicker, bamboo, water-hyacinth, recycled newspaper and cardboard;  the number alternative burial places including  green burial grounds, woodland burial sites and burial meadows has risen.

Burials and cremations both have an impact on the environment, using resources and energy. Traditional Coffins may be made of wood from unsustainable sources and transported over long distances; metal and plastic fittings do not biodegrade. Choosing a coffin made from a Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sustainable source will help, or choosing a greener material, such as recycled cardboard or one made from recycled newspaper. Sunset Coffins have an excellent range of coffins made from 100 per cent recycled newspaper. Wicker coffins aren’t always the greenest of choices – as they can be imported from China or India.

Cremation is very energy-intensive and can lead to pollutants entering the atmosphere, with over 70 per cent of people who die in Britain being cremated ­– even using clothing made from natural materials, removing shoes, plastic and metal will help reduce emissions.

For details of natural burial grounds, include woodland burial sites and advice on arranging a funeral see the Natural Death Centre . It’s a good idea to visit the site to avoid things going wrong, as in this eco-funeral.