Many people today who are planning the funeral of a loved one are making greener choices when it comes to funeral and burial traditions. In addition, those who are currently pre-planning for the needs of the future are also interested in learning more about the benefits of a green burial.
Green burials differ from traditional burial methods in several ways. First, for green funerals the body is typically not embalmed. Biodegradable coffins and caskets are used in lieu of traditional caskets made of unsustainable materials. And the use of massive concrete burial vaults and liners has been eliminated.
But what if you are attending a funeral instead of planning one? There are still several things you can do to make a green funeral even greener. For starters, consider the following green memorial gifts:
Eco-friendly flowers: Flowers seem like a naturally green gift, but you might be surprised at what goes in to the production and delivery of most flowers. A number of pesticides and other chemicals may be used in the growing process. However, florists do offer greener options if you still want to send flowers—all you have to do is ask.
Plants instead of flowers: You can also opt to purchase a green plant instead of flowers. While cut flowers are cultivated and then die, plants can be kept as a living memorial for many years. Florists typically offer a nice selection of plants that can be kept in their original containers or transplanted. Green plants can also improve the air quality of a home.
Plant a Tree: Another way to commemorate the life of a loved one is to plant a memorial tree. Check with your local park to see if they have a memorial tree program. You may be able to select the type of tree to be planted and have a memorial plaque made in remembrance of the deceased.
Make a Green Memorial Contribution: Many times obituaries list one or more options for making memorial contributions in honor of someone who has passed away. Look to see if one of the options is a green organization, or make a contribution to an organization you have worked with before. You can ask them to send an acknowledgement to the family.
Meals made of sustainably grown food: In many traditions it is common for friends and relatives to make meals. Consider choosing the ingredients carefully from your own garden, a community garden, or from other locally-sourced grocers.
Cards printed on recycled paper: If you opt to send a card to the family, look for one that has been printed with green ink on recycled paper.