Green Funerals and Burials Tips

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The Natural Burial Option

A natural burial involves placing the body into the ground with a simple shroud or biodegradable casket. No vaults are used. The body is not chemically treated. The goal of a natural burial is to return the body back to the earth and for it to become part of the earth's ecosystem again. It is allowed to decompose naturally.

Natural burials are done in designated natural burial grounds. They are usually park like settings. A visitor is meant to see a meadow or wooded area rather than a field of headstones. Some of the natural burial grounds allow small headstones or markers, but they must be unobtrusive. Others do not allow any type of headstone. The graves are marked with the planting of a tree or bush or the placing of a stone. Native vegetation, wildflowers and wildlife are encouraged.

Natural burials are becoming more popular and these type of burial grounds are spreading.

   

Green Funeral Homes

There is a growing trend towards green funeral homes.The goal at these funeral homes is to strive to run in a sustainable manner that will have as little impact as possible on the environment.

The owners and staff see that the home is energy efficient, recycling is done and all current green practices are observed. The use the least amount and least toxic chemicals available.

They are good resources to help you in the planning and execution of a green funeral. They usually have experience with natural burial and can be counted on to help you find a natural burial ground if that is your desire.

   

Cremation, Is It Green

Cremation is when a body is burned until all that is left is dry ashes. It is considered by some to be more of a green method of body disposition than a traditional burial. One reason for this is that fewer resources are used, there is no vault or large casket. Also, no land space is used for the final resting place. The use of chemicals for embalming can often be avoided as well.

Other people do not consider them to be very green. The reason is that fossil fuel is burned to accomplish the cremation. There are also pollutants released into the air during the cremation. If viewed on a scale, cremation would fall somewhere between a traditional burial and a natural burial on the green funeral scale.

   

Green Funerals, A Growing Trend

The funeral industry is following the interests of the general public and offering green funerals. Traditional funerals can consume a large amount of resources. These resources can range from the gas used in transporation, to the land used for a grave to the materials used to construct the vault and casket. There are also a number of harmful chemicals used in the embalming process. People are now questioning the long accepted methods commonly used and looking for green funeral alternatives.

Some families choose to take small steps such as using recycled paper for programs or the use of locally grown flowers for the funeral floral arrangements. Others make a point of having people carpool to and from the funeral and burial. There is also the option of a small gathering in an outdoor setting. Requesting the use of formaldyhyde free embalming fluids is another option.

Beyond the small things, there are larger things that can be done in the name of a green funeral. Some of the alternative methods of burial and disposition that are considered more green than a tradtional burial are discussed in other tips.

   
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Linda Handiak