Environmentally-Friendly Funeral Planning

Anne-Marie Botek, AgingCare.com Editor.

Despite being part of the natural celebration of the cycle of life and death, most modern variations on traditional funeral practices are far from environmentally-friendly.

A burial generally involves a casket made out of wood taken from forests (most of which are not sustainable), and a body that has been embalmed using chemicals such as formaldehyde—a dangerous carcinogen.

While commonly thought to be less environmentally disruptive than a full-on burial, the process of cremation can also damage the environment by releasing a slew of hazardous gasses into the atmosphere, including: mercury, dioxin and carbon dioxide.

And those are just the environmental expenses.

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average price of an adult funeral in 2009 was $6,560—more than nine times what it cost to bury someone in 1960.

This dramatic cost increase could be part of the reason why increasing numbers of older adults are looking into the possibility of a more down-to-earth burial ritual.

Related:
Funeral Planning Pointers
The Legacy Conversation: Talking About Funeral Arrangements
Funeral Songs and Music for an Elderly Parent’s Funeral

Funeral Planning Pointers originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

Preserving the green in your garden and your pocket

The so-called “Green funeral” offers an alternative for those who want to avoid squashing the environment and their family with an elephant-sized carbon and financial footprint. As its name suggests, a green funeral is about honoring a loved one while preserving the environment.

The typical green funeral involves burying an un-embalmed body in a biodegradable casket or cloth shroud. The grave site is generally marked with either a tree or a naturally-hewn stone. Some cemeteries have even taken to burying GPS devices with a body to help pin point its location without using a visible marker.

Green cemeteries specialize in providing naturally-sustainable environments where a person’s remains can exist in harmony with the surrounding environment. They lawn of a green cemetery is not meticulously manicured, but allowed to grow as it normally would. Vaults are avoided, and bodies are buried in a way that prevents the ground from settling or sinking.

Related:
How to Write a Eulogy
Funeral Planning Checklist
Mourning A Parent or Spouse’s Death

Funeral Planning Pointers originally appeared on AgingCare.com.Here are a few tips to help get you started planning a green funeral:

1. Know your options: Some cemeteries and funeral homes have gone totally green. But that doesn’t mean that a regular funeral home or cemetery doesn’t offer environmentally-friendly burial options. Cemeteries may offer both types of burials, having set aside a portion of land to be used for green funerals. A traditional funeral home may also have green burial options. Be sure to do research and vet your options before deciding on the option that is right for you.

2. Avoid embalming: Embalming is not required by law and is frowned upon in green funerals. Some funeral homes offer embalming services that do not use formaldehyde or other hazardous chemicals, opting instead for environmentally-friendly alternatives. If you’re considering being buried in a green cemetery, but still want to have an embalming performed, check to see if the cemetery will allow a body to be preserved using “green” practices.

3. Buy biodegradable or rent a casket: A variety of biodegradable burial container options exist. Biodegradable caskets and urns can be made out of pine, willow, bamboo, recycled paper, and cardboard, among other materials. There’s also the option of renting a casket. If you chose to do this, the casket you pick will be lined with another container (generally made out of dense cardboard). The body will be displayed in the rental casket on the liner during the memorial service, after which the body will be removed and either buried in the liner or cremated.

4. Ashes to ashes (or reefs, or trees): For the environmentally conscious, being cremated can offer up a host of interesting possibilities. Ashes can be combined with concrete and molded into artificial reef habitats for fish and other marine life. They can also be mixed in with soil and used to nourish a memorial garden or tree.

Environmentally-friendly funerals have the potential to save the environment and your wallet at the same time. Even so, a green funeral won’t be the ideal choice for everyone.

If you’re not sure whether you should go the environmentally-conscious route, thoroughly examine and compare the costs and offerings of different types of funeral options before deciding how you want to preserve your legacy.

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Funeral Planning Pointers originally appeared on AgingCare.com.

 

79 comments

Jo S.
Jo S.8 months ago

Good options, thank you.

Jo Recovering
Jo S.10 months ago

Thank you Anne-Marie.

Lea Silhol
Lea Silholabout a year ago

I like this, but alas we are not offered any of this in France.

ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA SOMLAI2 years ago

noted

Qian Zheng Yi
Jabi Yeonnmin3 years ago

Thank you - very helpful.

Howard C.
.3 years ago

Having recently been to the cremation of a friend I was shocked at not only how expensive it was but also how wasteful the whole process must be. For my part I would prefer that my body does not cause any further damage to this planet but the idea of being buried has never appealed to me, the site of someone finding my remains in a couple of hundred years time and putting me in some type of museum kind of bothers me. So I guess that I'll go for cremation - of choice I'd prefer to be vaporised, as I'm hoping to be around for a year or two yet maybe that will be a choice then!

LMj Sunshine

Interesting, thank you.

Joe R.
Joe R.3 years ago

Thanks.

Dorothy A.
Dorothy A.3 years ago

To, Kelly R. The show Dirty Jobs showed the making of faux reefs that attract fish and other marine wildlife, although I don't remember them using human ash.

I'd always thought cremation, and now I know to specify no embalming. Then I once read you could be turned into a gem stone. I like the idea of a memory pin or ring. But the idea of being part of a reef or nurturing a tree is attractive too. All are better than being stuck in the ground, to me anyway. I think discussing this with your family is a good idea. Of course, if everyone likes the gemstone idea it'd give new meaning to the term "family jewels".

Dorothy A.
Dorothy A.3 years ago

To, Kelly R. The show Dirty Jobs showed the making of faux reefs that attract fish and other marine wildlife, although I don't remember them using human ash.

I'd always thought cremation, and now I know to specify no embalming. Then I once read you could be turned into a gem stone. I like the idea of a memory pin or ring. But the idea of being part of a reef or nurturing a tree is attractive too. All are better than being stuck in the ground, to me anyway. I think discussing this with your family is a good idea. Of course, if everyone likes the gemstone idea it'd give new meaning to the term "family jewels".