Conscious living is top of mind now more than ever. People are always looking for new ways to have a positive impact on sustainability and environmental longevity. What might not be as apparent is the footprint you leave after death.
When it comes to death, it’s simple – smart choices lead to a better environment. Planning an eco-friendly funeral is a practical, impactful way to minimize your environmental footprint, making a lasting impression for years to come.
It’s important to understand the magnitude of societal trends when it comes to death. First, let’s look at some quick facts about the environment impact of the funeral industry currently:
- About 50 million trees are cut down each year for coffins and Indian funeral pyres, releasing 8 million tons of carbon dioxide
- The amount of concrete buried into the ground has reached over 2.3 billion tons, which is enough to pave a sidewalk to the moon 28 times
- We have buried more than 115 million tons of casket steel, which is enough to build the empire state building 2000 times
The idea might be new or already familiar to you, but eco-friendly ways to arrange a funeral can help the environment a lot. Transforming cremated remains into artificial coral reefs or ‘reef balls’ to support marine life (read more on our “Cremation Trends” article), reducing a funeral’s greenhouse gas emissions through resomation, or even hosting a tree seed are just some of the simple eco-friendly funeral ideas.
Below are some simple but helpful tips to guide you in planning an eco-friendly funeral.
- Read up. Aside from the ones mentioned above, there are tons of ideas you can read on different books, as well as on the internet. While some ideas may not sound well to you, having an eco-friendly departure doesn’t mean that you have to totally leave the modern way. One simple step is to change the material of your coffin, as some high-end woods used in caskets, such as mahogany, require deforestation of endangered rainforests.
- Talk to the experts. If you already have some ideas after your research, you must also seek the advice of your funeral directors or some green burial specialists. If you are a funeral director or in a funeral business, make sure that you are already equipped with or educated on the eco-friendly techniques when it comes to a funeral, in case some people ask you regarding this matter.
- Discuss with your family. Before you fully decide, you should let your loved ones know and seek their advice. Tell them what you want and state your intentions. They will surely value and remember those wishes however you should be ready to compromise on matters of cost and convenience.
- Plan ahead. Since the time of departure is not certain, it would also be good if you could have a written statement of your funeral wishes, along with your environmental concerns. A funeral home will typically be able to provide all of the necessary accommodations for a fully-equipped eco-friendly funeral but you should take the initiative the look for outside resources depending on your level of commitment.
- Have your remains buried. Since our remnants are part of the food chain, the natural process of decomposition, as unceremonious as it feels, should not be hindered by any added constructs, such as embalming fluid. It may only make little sense to some, but going through the natural process to return to the earth greatly helps the environment. Some ways to have your remains buried naturally and in a faster natural process is to choose a closed casket and rapid burial without the embalming process, and choosing the materials of your coffin (cardboard, bamboo, or biodegradable urns are great examples).
- Leave your mark while leaving an impact. Instead of quarried headstones or marble mausoleums, why not go for living memorials, such as planting a tree as an honor to the deceased? This is also a great way for your loved ones to remember you and to inspire them to contribute to the environment as well.
Share your thoughts below. Would you opt for any eco-friendly funeral options?