Funeral planner values and budgets are often reflected in their funeral arrangement decisions. Green funerals have increased in popularity as eco-consciousness grows and funeral planners become aware of “green” options. Additionally, green funerals can be a cost effective alternative to traditional funeral services as they tend to involve fewer and less expensive services and products.
So, what is a green funeral? A green or “natural” funeral is an alternative funeral practice that incorporates environmentally-friendly options, including any or all of the following: no cremation, no concrete burial vault, body preparation without chemicals (i.e. no embalming or embalming with formaldehyde-free products), the use of biodegradable clothing, and the use of a biodegradable wood or cardboard casket. Additionally, some families choose not to use a standing headstone, but use flat rocks, plants, or trees as grave markers instead. And some opt for recycled paper products only for funeral programs or hymn sheets, locally-grown organic flowers, carpooling from location to location during the funeral, and/or locally-grown organic food if refreshments are served.
Although cremations reduce land use, many green funeral planners opt for a burial over cremation because the cremation process uses nonrenewable fossil fuels and causes nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, and heavy metals to be emitted into the atmosphere.
If you are interested in having an environmentally-friendly or less expensive funeral, be sure to talk with funeral homes and cemeteries about your “green” options.
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