Many people, not wanting to burden their families with difficult decisions during an already difficult time, opt to pre-plan their funerals. Because green burials are a relatively new trend in the United States, you may not know what green options are available. With these pointers, you can plan a funeral that is natural, free of toxic chemicals, and minimizes your environmental impact.
Most traditional funeral practices are far from eco-friendly. First, land has to be cleared for traditional cemeteries to keep up with the growing demand for grave spaces. Trees are harvested for caskets. Metals are forged for fancy handles and casket hinges. Carcinogenic chemicals make up embalming fluids, which end up in the nation’s water supply. With all of this of this to consider, it’s easy to see why many people want their last act to be green.
So, when you sit down with a pre-planning rep, what will you talk about?
Selecting Green Funeral Products
When you make arrangements in advance, you have time to consider all of your options. Pre-planning requires you to make several decisions about the products that will be used at the time of burial. Biodegradable caskets and urns are made completely of natural woods and fibers. In some cases, people choose to forgo the casket all together, choosing to be covered only in a cloth burial shroud before being laid in the earth. Eco-friendly guest registers are another way to go green for the service. Instead of flowers, consider asking your family to request donations to a favorite green non-profit organization.
Selecting a Green Cemetery
Finding a truly green cemetery in your area may be difficult. However, many cemeteries are opening up green sections on their grounds. Ask around before you purchase a space. It’s a good idea to find out if the cemetery has been certified by an organization such as the Green Burial Council.
Selecting a Green Funeral Home
There are several questions you should ask your funeral director regarding green funeral services. First of all, find out whether they use “greener” embalming fluids, or whether they keep a body chilled to preserve it until burial. Processionals of long lines of vehicles can burn lots of fuel. Talk to your funeral director about whether graveside services are necessary and ask for a brochure that lists all green options to help you select the best funeral services provider.
In addition to reducing your environmental impact, there are also financial reasons to opt for an eco-burial. Many natural burials cost under $2,000 while traditional funerals can cost $6,000 - $10,000 or more.
For more information on Green or "Eco-Friendly" funerals