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For anyone interested in living a cleaner and greener lifestyle, that means a person has to adopt a lifestyle that is beneficial to the environment. If you are that type of a person you should also think of how you would want your funeral to be like. I know hearing this will put you on edge, a little or maybe more. However, if you think about it, wouldn’t you want your funeral or the funeral of your loved one or your pet to be beneficial for the sustainability of our planet? This way you won’t only be be paying your respects for the passing of your loved ones, but will also make a positive impact on the environment.
What are Green Burials?
Green burials are done to achieve two goals; environmental sustainability and simplicity. There is no process of cremation (no waste of energy) or usage of chemicals (embalming) in a green burial. The body is placed in a biodegradable coffin or wrapped in a biodegradable cloth. The grave sites are often chosen by people in their wills. The end-goal is for the body to decompose and return back to nature completely. Only through this can the phrase ‘ashes to ashes, dust to dust’ have the correct meaning.
Why should people choose Green Burials?
Green burials have a strong history; they were commonly used to bury the dead In the 1800s. However, some religions like Islam and Judaism still continue to bury their dead through ‘green burials’.
Many people feel like funerals are a burden on other people after they pass away, this is one of the reasons why people choose to be buried in a manner which has the least burden on other family members. And since green burials don’t involve the embalming process, cremation or fancy caskets; the cost of burials is greatly reduced. The cost is reduced by well over a thousand dollars!
As I discussed one of the major goals of having a green burial is simplicity. The idea of being buried in a simple shroud or a simple coffin appeals to those who have led a simple life, or have made the shift to being more sustainable (more green) recently.
No Use of Hazardous Chemicals:
No use of hazardous chemicals is one of the major advantages of green burial which attracts a lot of people to opt for it. The chemicals used in the embalming process contain Formaldehyde which is a respiratory irritant (Triggers Asthma) and a known carcinogen. Over 5 Million gallons of embalming fluid is made from Formaldehyde every year in the United States, and funeral workers are regularly exposed to the hazardous fumes.
Saves Natural Resources:
A lot of research over the years estimates that; cemeteries in the United States consume more than 30 Million board-feet of Hardwood and almost 100,000 tons of steel in making caskets every year. Additionally, almost 20,000 tons of steel and copper along with almost 2 million tons of reinforced concrete is consumed in making vaults. Green burials use negligible resources compared to that!
Preservation of Nature:
People highly fond of nature and with the idea of obtaining ‘eternal rest/peace’ in grasslands or a forest are some of the reasons why people choose green burials. Along with that, the idea of ‘giving back to nature’ is one of those reasons. This is because the burial sites preserve or replenish nutrients of the land for the native trees, plants and shrubs.
Prevents Greenhouse gas emissions:
An average cremation of a single body uses around 28 gallons of fuel. This releases over 500 pounds of Carbon Dioxide into the atmosphere. This translates to more than 250,000 tons of Carbon Dioxide every year.
Top 10 Ideas for an Eco-friendly Funeral
Here we will give you the best ideas related to environment-friendly and green funerals. This is for people who like to be sustainable during their lifetime and would like to continue to do so after they pass on, basically people who ‘live green to die green’.
1. Biodegradable Urns
Bios Urn has created something called biodegradable urns, it is similar to your biodegradable plastics which can decompose and provide natural materials back to the environment. Biodegradable urns are designed to make trees after being buried. Once the urn is buried, the tree can begin to grow and the urn then starts to decompose. Eventually, the entire structure may act as soil or fertilizer for the tree. The urns people keep as a possession may get lost but if there is a tree grown through them, then that tree remains there for eternity. It can be the best source of remembrance.
Resomation is an alternative to cremation. In Resomation processes, alkaline hydrolysis is carried out to break down the body rather than using fire. This has a great impact on reducing enormous carbon emissions released during cremation as discussed above, ultimately reducing the greenhouse effect. The sterile liquid from resomation is returned to the atmosphere in the form of vapors, while the ashes are given to the members of the family in the urn.
3. Grief balls
Cremation isn’t a good option if you are considering the impact it has on global warming through the carbon emissions being produced. But, if you do wish to be cremated you may transform your remains of cremation in artificial coral reefs also called reef balls which may help support the marine life. This can be very beneficial, especially during a time when the amount of natural reefs is deteriorating at an unmatched rate.
Why choose coffins made from expensive high-end wood coming from tropical rainforests, when you may choose cheaper alternative wood which is more sustainable and leads to lower rates of deforestation of endangered rainforests. This will help to increase the life of the rainforests, although not as much, but it will still buy the rainforests some crucial time to regrow and replenish itself.
Other alternatives to Coffins include Woven caskets made of willow, bamboo or wicker.
5. Burial Materials
The rise of different types of eco-friendly burial materials has increased alongside the introduction of biodegradable coffins. Wicker cardboard is still the most viable alternative in countries such as Britain, but water hyacinth, bamboo, and banana lead are all being used as well.
You may choose to carpool with your cousins or relatives while going to the funeral. You may also use various car-hailing apps that use smaller vehicles and vehicles which are hybrid/electric to reduce carbon emissions. This way you may be contributing by reducing the number of greenhouse gases while going to pay your respect at the same time.
After the funeral, the next few days can pass by with people coming to give their respects, mourning, and grieving about the loss of a loved one. In these gatherings, you can choose to offer meat-free treats. You can use locally grown ingredients available near your house, rather than relying on expensive processed food and meats.
8. The Power of Flowers
Everyone sends flowers to the bereaved. It is a very loving gesture; it comes with a huge price to pay in terms of environmental loss. There are many alternatives to this. An alternative can be that you may request for donations to a charity of your choice rather than a lieu of flowers. Friends and family may also choose alternatives by planting a tree or flowers or even donating free meals to the poor or the bereaved at such a difficult time. These gestures, although minor, can make all the difference.
People can choose to leave an environmental legacy in their wills. Music lovers may choose an interesting option that involves pressing the remains of one’s ashes into vinyl. You may choose that with a company called Vinyly, which is specialized in converting the remains of your friends, relatives, and even pets into vinyl.
10. Floating Urns
Floating Urns are typically requested by people who are highly fond of water. Floating urns usually float around in water for a while before sinking into the water bodies for the body to rest peacefully at sea. These Floating urns are usually made of clay or wood (without finishing).