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How to plan a more eco-friendly funeral

Are you arranging a funeral for a loved one who was passionate about the environment? Or did they ask for an eco-friendly funeral before they passed away? There are lots of ways you can plan a more eco-friendly funeral. Here are a few things you could do.

Avoid embalming

Embalming is the process of preserving a body. It uses chemicals like formaldehyde which can get into the soil after the person’s been buried. This can affect the soil and water around it. It can even have an effect on the health of the professionals who carry out embalming. So if you want to arrange a more eco-friendly funeral then opt out of embalming. Speak to your funeral director about what’s possible. But keep in mind that embalming isn’t required by law. Instead the body of the person who passed away can be stored in temperature controlled facilities so that it’s preserved before the funeral.

Choose an eco-friendly burial

Which is more environmentally friendly? Cremation or burial? They’re actually both responsible for causing harm to the environment. Even though cremation is thought to be a more eco-friendly funeral option because it takes up less space, it’s causes a lot of air pollution. The process of cremation uses extreme heat which releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. And it takes up a lot of energy too.

So what about burial? Traditionally made coffins can leave behind chemicals in the soil. Varnishes and formaldehyde can reach the soil polluting it for years to come. And there’s also the possibility that metal parts of the coffin such as the handles are left behind too.

The answer? A natural burial. This is when a burial takes place in a natural place like a woodland or meadow. No chemicals are used. And only completely biodegradable coffins are allowed. This means that the body decomposes naturally and leaves nothing behind to harm the environment. It’s arguably the most environmentally friendly funeral option available to us in the UK right now.

Research eco-friendly coffins

If a natural burial seems like a good option for the eco-funeral you’re planning then you’ll need to look into eco-friendly coffins too. They’re a more sustainable option when compared with a traditional coffin. They’re biodegradable so won’t leave anything behind. And they can still be decorative too.

Here’s what some eco-friendly coffins are made of:

  • Willow
  • Seagrass
  • Wool
  • Cardboard
  • Soft wood

Keep in mind that there’s no legal requirement to use a coffin at all in the UK. So you could cut that out of your eco-friendly funeral completely. Some people choose to wrap the person who died in a specially made shroud made from material that’ll completely decompose. This will more closely reflect the way a body usually decomposes. So the person who died can return back to the earth in a more natural and eco-friendly way.

Find eco-friendly funeral flowers

You may not think that funeral flowers harm the environment. But many of them are shipped long distances especially if chosen out of season. And they’re often wrapped in plastic too. So they can have an impact on the environment even if just a few tributes are chosen for the funeral service. Instead you could ask your florist to avoid plastic altogether and ask them to choose from locally sourced flowers. That way you know that they’ll biodegrade and have less of an impact on the environment. Ask your funeral director for advice too. They may be able to introduce you to a florist who specialises in locally sourced flowers.

Or if you want to take this a step further you could ask family and friends who are attending to pick flowers from their own gardens. That way you know there’s no harm caused to the environment and it’s a thoughtful gesture from guests too.

Buy from local suppliers

If you can work with local suppliers for the coffin, flowers and keep the venue local too you’ll reduce your carbon footprint. You can take this one step further and ask everyone attending to car share too. This’ll help keep carbon dioxide emissions to a minimum.

Other eco-friendly funeral options

  • Make your own order of service from recycled materials instead of getting them newly printed.
  • If you’re having catering ask the supplier to save any leftover food so that you can share with local food shelters.
  • Ask guests who attend the funeral to plant a memorial tree instead of sending cards and flowers.
  • Ever heard of a mushroom coffin? If your budget allows it these coffins made from natural materials actually help put nutrients back into the soil. And it helps the decomposition process.

Planning an eco-funeral for a loved one

When you’re planning an eco-friendly funeral for someone you may not get it all right. That’s okay. By adding in just a few of the options above you’ll reduce the carbon footprint of the funeral. And you’ll be honouring the person who died in a way that reflects their values.

Don’t forget that your funeral director can support you with arranging an eco-friendly funeral. To find one near you that specialises in environmentally friendly funerals use our funeral director finder.